How much do you tip movers?
Why is it that grown adults who are capable of, say, expertly packing a box of fragile items or carefully bubble wrapping their vintage Pez collection in anticipation of a move, suddenly freeze up when it comes to a simple question of etiquette?
Hands start sweating, throats tighten, neurons misfire as we try to wrap their brains around that vexing riddle: What is the standard for tipping movers?
The anxiety around the question makes sense. Professional movers put in a full day or half day of hard work for you. They may have had to lug heavy furniture down flights of stairs and into a moving truck. They may be asked to lift literal boxes of rocks.
So it’s probably not the best idea to just hand them a sports drink and call it even.
You definitely should offer a gratuity to the moving crew, you may just not be sure what the exact tip amount should be. You obviously don’t want to seem cheap, but you don’t want to overdo it either.
The good news is there is a standard tipping etiquette, and it’s probably the same whether you’re in NYC or Omaha, Nebraska.
“It’s important to remember that movers are members of the service industry,” says one moving company owner. “Think of them the same way you would the pizza delivery guy or the Uber Eats guy. You may see them for a few seconds while they drop off your pizza, but you still give them something.”
A good rule of thumb is to hand over between 10 and 15 percent of the total bill in cash tips to your moving team. Just build that figure into your moving cost when you’re budgeting.
If the move to your new home cost $1,000, for example, set aside a lump sum at the end of the move of between $100 and $150 that will be split amongst the crew members.
Is there ever a time when you should tip more than that? Well, maybe.
You should carefully evaluate the difficulty of the move, the quality of service you received and the job performance of the team. Just like with any other service, from hair cuts to pedicures, it makes sense to tip a bit more for especially good service.
“Let’s say you had a hard hard job and these guys worked their asses off, or it was snowing outside and they went above and beyond not to get a single bit of snow in the house, you might hit them with a little bit more,” says the moving company owner. “Last year in the Northeast, for example, was brutal in terms of humidity. Those were tough days if you’re out doing heavy lifting, so you might give them a bit more.”
The max amount you might consider is 20 percent of the total moving cost.
One other tip: During the pandemic, the moving industry was designated as essential, and workers were still providing moving services at at time when some in other industries were staying home and binging Netflix while pretending to work. No surprise, during difficult times most customers increased their tip a little.