How Much to Tip Movers – Everything You Need to Know

Posted Moving Essentials / June 19, 2020
Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

Whether you’re in a restaurant, bar, or in front of your new home surrounded by promptly delivered boxes, tipping is always a nice way to show some appreciation for a job well done. Yet, it is hard to find that delicate balance and figure out how much to tip movers when there’s no rule set in stone, a magic number, or a calculator you could use for this. So how do you avoid being called cheapskate, without giving away too much? Let’s try to solve this dilemma together.

Tipping Can Be a Real Struggle When You Don’t Know Exactly How Much to Tip Movers

The moment of truth is approaching. Everyone knows what’s coming; workers are waiting in anticipation, trying not to look too interested or eager, playing it cool. On the other side, you’re feeling uncomfortable, your palms are sweaty, you don’t know what to say, and the worst part is, you’re still not sure how much you should reward them. This isn’t something you put on your moving expenses checklist, isn’t it? Don’t worry. You’re not the only one.


What Do You Tip Movers For?

It’s not a secret that people who work for relocating companies have a hard and physically exhausting job. Just imagine lifting furniture, boxes, and various bulky items every day. They know all moving hacks, from how to pack books for moving to how to move a gun safe. If you’ve found a good crew that doesn’t do moving scams, make sure to show appreciation, especially in situations such as these:

  • Every mover is carefully handling your antique and fragile items
  • They are fast and efficient
  • They are carrying large items upstairs or downstairs
  • They are disassembling and reassembling furniture
  • Every mover is very polite, professional, and friendly towards you

How Much Do You Tip Movers in 2020?

Although we are only halfway through 2020, it is evident that this year is going to be tough on everyone, especially from a financial perspective. Many of you would perhaps rather cancel your long-distance moving and wait for some happier times to do it. Some have lost their jobs, and giving away even a few extra bucks could a high cost for them. How much should you give to someone who risks his health every day to provide the best possible service to you? There are no moving tips to help you with that. Despite the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, some still had to go to work and put their neck on the line, and professional movers are among them.

A lot of people feel the need to give a bit more in these situations to those that couldn’t stay at home and have to work hard under such difficult circumstances. Based on the experience, we can tell that tips go from 5% to 20%. But this is not a restaurant industry, and there are no standards for this. Giving away an additional 20% can sometimes be a small fortune when it comes to cross country moves, and that would certainly not be the cheapest way to move out of state for you.

How Much Is a Good Tip for Movers? Know Your Mover’s Profile

Like figuring out how much to spend on tips is not hard enough, what happens when you have several people, and they are not working equally hard? Is it okay to give a bit extra to one of them if he deserves it more than others? This dilemma adds a new dimension to this equation and opens up a few additional questions.

Feel Free to Tip According to the Amount of Work They Did

When you have several workers around the house, and you notice they are not all pulling the same weight, is it fair to tip them according to their effort? Absolutely. But is it going to be uncomfortable if you do it in front of everyone else? You can bet it’s going to be, but it’s still better than giving the lump sum to the foreman. You never know if the guy is going to keep more for himself, or how are they going to share it. So make sure to give each of them individually the amount you feel is right.

What Is the Right Tipping Rate for Local Moves?

When it comes to local moving, you can tip workers per hour. If it takes half-day or less, you can give $5 per hour to each mover for local moves. It should add up to around $20 per person. In case it takes a full working day of 8 hours, giving $40 to each worker is a decent amount. For more hours, up to 12, consider giving around $60.

What Is the Right Tipping Rate for Long-Distance Moves?

With long-distance relocations, the situation is a bit more complicated, especially if you’re using storage service or auto shipping. The chances are high that one team will load your belongings, and the other team will unload them at the final destination. So do you have to pay double? If you’re not sure, call your company to check how many teams will be working on your move.

Forget about paying based on percentage because long-distance relocations are expensive, and when you do the math, you’ll realize that it is not cost-effective. You can use the same formula or round up the sum on $40 for a full day of work. And if you can afford it, add a bit more.

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Do You Tip Movers When They Load or Unload?

Another common dilemma is related to timing. When is the right moment to express your gratitude for the movers’ service? In the beginning, to give them a boost, or at the end when every mover expects it? Some general rule is that you should award them when everything is sealed and done, but not everyone agrees.

When Is the Right Time for Tipping?

Some believe that it’s essential to mention at the very beginning that there will be some tips when it’s all done. Saying that nicely should give workers additional motivation to be efficient and careful with your belongings. Some even prefer giving a small amount, $10 to each packer, to show them you are serious about it. Or if you have lots of antique and fragile items. In a lot of cases, this method works well because it gives workers an additional incentive to work harder and be extra careful.

However, if you’re not sure how to go about it and this is your first time, you don’t need additional moving stress. You can stick to the good old unwritten rule and express your thankfulness once the hard part is over. When everything is delivered, unloaded, every box is in the room where it should be, and furniture is reassembled. Sign the final paperwork, and then when everyone is relaxed after completing another task, you give them something extra.

Situations Where You Don’t Have to Give Tips

Tipping a crew is not mandatory, but if everything went well, many people feel the need to do it. However, there are some situations when it’s totally okay if you decide not to do it. Let’s take a look at a few of those:

  • The crew showed up late
  • The workers damaged your walls or furniture
  • The team did not arrange boxes in your new home according to the labels
  • They were not efficient and made too many breaks
  • They were not polite
  • The crew did not handle your fragile items carefully

Additional Ways to Show How Much You Appreciate the Crew’s Effort

Sometimes, it’s not all about money. Professional packers work hard to make sure that everything from your list is well-packed and shipped. If you tried packing on your own at least once, you know the struggle. Since the list of items movers won’t move doesn’t include furniture and other bulky items, this job can be very physically exhausting. Moving insurance is excellent for your peace of mind, but if something antique or with sentimental value gets damaged, no money in the world could replace it. So if everything is going well and packers are being careful, there are some additional ways to express your gratitude and appreciation.

Tipping-Related Things to Do for Your Moving Crew

Prepare some food

Whether you order sandwiches, pizza, or offer some homemade cookies, everyone will appreciate it. If you’re buying food, you can ask them if they would like something specific, because we guess they get a lot of pizza on a monthly level. Also, you’re maybe their second or third move on that day, so it is always better to ask. Just do not say something like: “this is your tip.”

Prepare some refreshing drinks

Whether you’re relocating during the summer or winter months, it is always nice to offer some refreshment drinks. Lemonade, water, soda, or coffee are all highly appreciated. Although some of you would assume that beer could also be the right choice, keep in mind that some companies have strict policies, and prohibit their employees from drinking during the working hours.

Ensure there is a usable bathroom

Make sure everyone knows where the bathroom is and prepare enough disposable paper towels and liquid soap. Don’t forget to include that on your moving to-do list, so you don’t have to rush to the store last minute.

Leave a good review

Writing a genuine and useful review matters, but especially if you mention names of guys who were helping and packing your household. It will mean a lot for them, and who knows, they might get a raise thanks to your small gesture.

Do You Have to Tip a Mover?

To be honest, no one says you have to do it. It is not a general rule or recommendation. After all, companies pay them for the work they do. You could say that it’s a job like any other, but it’s still hard and physically demanding labor, and many of your friends wouldn’t help move your stuff even if you paid them. That’s why giving something extra to the people that do the hard work for you is always a nice thing to do.

Finding a good company that provides stellar service is not easy, but once you find the one that offers the best service at a reasonable cost, you’ll never consider relocating without a professional company again. Giving something extra is the best way to show you acknowledge their service. But in the end, it is all up to you.

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