August 17, 2021 Posted in How-to
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

How to Tip Movers When Relocating

If you’ve ever tried relocating on your own, then you’re already familiar with how challenging it can be. Using professional moving services and learning how to tip movers for properly delivering them is much easier, plus it spares you the trouble of going through such a demanding endeavor all alone once again. Just imagine if there were no storage services – God forbid – or no car shipping for your vehicle. What a disaster would that be.

A girl taking money from her wallet for cross-country moving Knowing how to show gratuity for the services provided is a vital part of the move

However, before you start calculating how much you need to set aside for tips, knowing some general rules on the culture of tipping movers will help you show just the right amount of appreciation for the job well done. So, let’s dive right in!

Do You Have to Tip Movers?

Although there’s no such thing as mandatory gratuity, relocation is considered a part of the service industry. People use tips to show how much they’re satisfied with the service provided. Similar to a hairdresser, a waiter – or anyone who makes your life easier in one way or another – thanking them with cash is a good practice to express how grateful you are.

Then again, it is pretty clear that relocating is not as common as getting a drink or a haircut, so it is fair to remember how much is at stake when you put your treasured belongings into the hands of unknown people. The safety of your family heirloom depends entirely on the dedication and efficiency of the relocation team you hired to move you to a new state. It is impossible to have a stress-free move if the job is done poorly, whether it’s the packing service we’re talking about or any of the long-distance moving services needed.

Just estimate the value of your household, and you’ll quickly figure out how vital it is to have professionals by your side. Working that hard for only one goal – to have your items intact once you move to a new home requires a proper reward.

Long-distance movers on duty Although gratuity is not mandatory, it's customary in the service industry

What to Consider Before Deciding to Reward Them?

Common sense is a good starting point – the more demanding the task is, the bigger the gratuity. For example, if you’re relocating in winter and it is quite cold outside, and there’s a lot of bulky furniture to move to and from the truck, of course, you’ll give a higher reward.

On the other hand, these are not the only important things to consider. It is the overall quality of the service provided that you should look at thoroughly. Top-rated movers know how to save time, space, and moving budget thanks to all the moving hacks they’ve learned over the years. It is easy to recognize them:

Whatever your reasons to move are, give your best to find a crew like this one, and you certainly won’t regret being generous to them.

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How Much Do You Need to Set Aside for Tipping?

Even though calculating what to tip movers is tricky, it is still possible to do it. If you’re on a mission to figure out the cheapest way to move out of state, do not try to apply the strict 20% rule here because you might as well have to rob a bank for the average long-distance move. Still, a formula that most people use, which says up to $4-5 per mover for each hour of work, should do the trick.

Also, keep in mind that there’s still an ongoing global pandemic and that these people still have to go to work every day and jeopardize their health and the health of their families. But, being considered essential workers during these times, they don’t have an option but to continue helping all of us go on with our lives.

So, ultimately, there’s no gratuity big enough to thank them for enabling you to reach your new home without a hitch under such intimidating circumstances.

How Much Do You Tip Local Movers?

When your future home is just a few blocks away, the complexity of the move automatically decreases. It is one team doing it all together: disassembling and assembling, loading and unloading. Also, the company’s hourly rate is much lower, making it all more manageable. For a small move like this one, where a team does not spend more than 4 hours, tipping $20 for each team member is quite enough.

What to Do When It Comes to Long-Distance Moving Teams?

As you can probably guess, long-distance moving is a bit more complicated when it comes to tipping, simply because the move itself is more demanding. When moving from one state to another, there are usually two teams involved in the process. The first one to organize the move, pack your entire home, and load it safely in the moving truck, whereas the other is in charge of unloading your belongings once they get to your destination.

How much do you tip the packing crew and how much the unloading one depends on your overall satisfaction. If they were both attentive with your household and handled even the most delicate things professionally, then it is fair to reciprocate equally. However, if one crew did a poor job while the other delivered competitive performance, well, you’re not obliged to reward both of them.

To hear more about how much you should give in general, check out the video below.

When Is the Best Time to Give Tips?

Being all messy and hectic during relocation, most people are not really sure what the right time for tipping is. Do you tip movers when they load or unload? Or do you stop them while they’re boxing items up? Are you supposed to wait until the work is done, or should you hand them a bill at the beginning and the rest at the end?

If you go on with the questions, you’ll lose both money and sanity. But, no worries, the actual answer is not so hard to reach as it may appear. There’s an unspoken rule to show your gratitude only after the service has been provided, so you can have the opportunity to estimate the quality. The same goes for movers.

Who Should You Give Money To?

A relocation company usually has teams consisting of workers and a foreman, a lead mover, and a person in charge of the entire crew, the one you can talk to if any problem arises during the process. For many, to prevent any potentially uncomfortable situations, the simplest way to get it over with is to hand all the cash to one person and move on to the next task.

However, it is important to keep in mind that there’s a much smarter way to do it. Not only because relocation specialists love to be given tips directly, but primarily because there is no way to know if the leader will be honest with the rest of the crew. And even though you had good intentions, the whole crew may suffer just because you didn’t make enough effort to reward them individually. Not to mention that not everybody will go the extra mile for you, so it’s a nice gesture to recognize the effort put in and prepare a fair reward, right?

If you’re still on the fence about how to do it, there’s always the safe option of directly giving money to a company, with a clear explanation of how to share it.

A handshake deal between a mover and customer after moving cross-country It's best to wait for the job to be finished to give the tips to all the team members

Different Payment Methods

Some companies will offer you the tipping option as part of your bill, but some of them – usually smaller ones – won’t. Nonetheless, there are a few additional payment methods to consider, in case you didn’t prepare enough cash on time:

  • A credit card – Having a credit card with you might be convenient for many reasons. The main one is that using it is the best way to enable you some of the moving expense deduction since documenting your gratuity to the IRS is a piece of cake with it.
  • A check – A check aligns with the company’s payment policy, but make sure to check if it is possible to give tips with a check. If it is, it should be distributed among team members.
Pile of credit cards on the table Cash is not the only possible payment method

Additional Ways to Show Gratitude

Even the most professional of all professionals on the market do not have limitless strength and energy. Just imagine one task after another, from packing all your furniture, organizing and boxing up your books, to walking you through how they protect your items in storage units to the minor details while packing your electronics.

If you want your household items safe and sound, you have to be a good host, too, which often motivates the crew even more than any amount of money. It’s not hard to get it. When you’re working hard the whole day – or sometimes even longer – hospitality is all you need:

  • Be friendly and remember their names. Trust our word. You’ll need them, a lot, actually, since you’ll be communicating a thousand tiny details all the while the relocation process lasts,
  • Prepare enough soap, sanitizers, and hand towels for all of them,
  • Have some coffee, snacks, and refreshments ready, no matter what time of the day it is,
  • If the move is challenging, feel free to provide an affordable lunch or dinner, as well,
  • Remember, they are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages while on duty, so do not offer them any.

Yes, we know. You’d rather spend your time thinking about creative storage ideas for your future home or how to unpack after the move. But, being considerate and polite will undoubtedly cheer everybody up and give you some space to plan other aspects of the move.

A girl and a boy sitting on the floor eating pizza after long-distance moving There are many ways to show your appreciation besides tipping

If You’re Dealing With an Unprofessional Moving Company, It’s OK to Skip It Altogether

Sure, tipping is determined by many factors, and there are situations when it is justified not to do it. If the crew makes some common relocating mistakes such as showing up late, packing fragile items carelessly, or even damaging some of your belongings, then it is OK not to spend a dime on them.

If such suspicious things happen, you might also check on the company you hired because it might be one of many relocation scams. There may be some more warning signs, like not having enough staff to handle the move or just being disrespectful and rough with your belongings.

A girl in distress over cross-country moving If you're dealing with unprofessional people, deciding not to show gratuity is OK

Knowing How to Tip Movers Will Make the Relocation Experience More Pleasant for Everyone

Demonstrating your gratitude for the work done, recognizing the care given and professionalism provided is unarguably a winning result for both parties. And suddenly, everything makes sense – the hard work done and the big bucks you paid for it.


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