Do You Tip The Movers?

Every time we move (and this is number seven), my husband and I struggle with the moving dilemma:  should we tip the movers?  I’ve heard all sorts of opinions on this subject, from absolutely not to absolutely a lot.  I’m curious what my readers think.

We do provide them with lunch, and keep a cooler full of drinks available, but it is the actual cash that makes me wonder.  Please comment – I can’t wait to hear!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • I think the cooler is a nice gesture and sufficient by itself. Enjoy your new place :)

  • Kim

    We tip with snacks and colas, plus we buy lunch. I feel like it’s expected, frankly, and we can afford snacks more easily than cash.

    Once, we showed the movers where the snacks and drinks were set up so I was surprised when one guy asked where they were. Turns out a packer who arrived a little late had packed them away. He had no idea which box they were in so lunch had to suffice for that move.

  • Larry

    We provide snacks and lunch because it is cheaper and it can keep the crew at our house and hopefully on schedule. We also found that many movers expect to fed lunch and provided with water and other drinks during the day. I wouldn’t call it a shakedown, but we are in a position where want the job done quickly and this may be our only means of helping it along.

  • Our son was a “mover” during his college years and that “TIP” was huge. He busted his backside & prided himself for doing a good job and a tip validated that for him.

  • Joe

    We, too, provided our movers with lunch and/or bottled water. Not all expect it as, on our last move, the second packing crew brought their own 24-pack of water. It is a good gesture to provide them with a small token of your appreciation thru food and drink. I would say to never give them cash as they are paid by the box and pound.

    • Bill

      otr DRIVERS are paid by the carton and weight. the laborers are not. local movers are only paid by ther hour. get your facts right before giving false info.

      • kelv

        Get ur facts right.you wud rather tip a pizza guy than the man breaking their backs to move you.smh people are so ungrateful.whateva u pay the people actually lifting are gettin paid minimum wage that money pays the company,sales guy,etc n by the time it gets to guys doing the work.they getting $10/hr

  • Larry

    it depends upon the service you get. Average service gets snacks, drinks, possibly a meal. Outstanding service would be eligible for a tip depending upon your evaluation of the service and your pocketbook, but definitely not based upon any percentage of the bill — maybe around $10 or $20 per person as a guide. Poor service (like we got in our last move where fragiles were thrown in below heavy and our piano was demolished to the tune of over $2500 in repairs) is deserving of nothing. Water should suffice for them.

  • Alan

    This is a tough question, we have always provided lunch and drinks…but half of our movers have

    taken their tip via the “shopping” they have

    done at our expense. (Or I should say, at the

    governments expense.)

  • Regina

    Always!! We start off the first morning with Hot drinks, fresh fruit, and something sweet. We let them know that we will be providing lunch and where the cooler is with water and drinks. We show that we care so that hopefully they will care. It has always worked for us.

  • Ed

    Not only am I Retired Military having many DITY moves under my belt, but I also grew up as a mover and became a Moving Contractor for a major company after retirement. Therefore, I know very well how stressful a move can be. Most packers/movers have come to expect a cash tip for good service, especially when they know it cost you basically nothing for the actual move. The moving business is HARD, TOUGH work, and the pay is usually not commensurate with the labor required.

    Providing snacks and lunch to your packers and movers are a gesture of good will. They will tend to pack your things with more care (dependent upon experience) and take better care of your things. Tell the crew upon arrival you plan to tip them, BUT only based on the job performance you observe. As the day progresses at ORIGIN, pay attention to how fragile items are packed and the care being taken by the movers (furniture being wrapped INSIDE the home). Go out to the truck and see how items are being loaded (not just thrown in the truck). Tip that crew based on their service at origin! At destination, spot UNPACK your fragile items while the movers are there!!! Tip your movers based on the service they provided to you at that time. You have to remember that there may be several different crews involved with your move, and the one’s you do not tip may not be responsible for a broken item!!.NEVER tip the person in charge without being in the presence of other crewmembers! On more than one occasion, I know of that person keeping the entire tip for himself. A moving crew can do an outstanding job of moving your things into your new home but had NOTHING to do with your dishes being broken! An “Un-Tipped” unloading crew will feel they are being punished for a packer or the driver (who usually loads the truck) mistakes, and MAY remember you the next time you move!

  • cece richards

    In about thirty years of moving, I have always tipped my movers – as well as providing at least something to drink (coffee/tea in colder locations or colas/water in warm areas) … I also made sure to get rid of “junk” (why move it just because the gov’t is paying? Good practice for after retirement/separation when you may have to apy for the move yourself – as I have!!!) I also pre-packed a lot of stuff, leaving boxes open for inspection by the packers so they were sure what was in those boxes and that packed items would not break (or that items were not prohibited). I only once had those boxes marked “PBO” (packed by owner).

    All I can say is that over all those moves – stateside and several overseas – and years – I only had VERY minor damage in a couple moves – and one box of linens went missing. While one of my neighbors who did not do ANYTHING in preparation for the move, did not offer the movers food/water, treated them rather badly and did NOT tip them ended up with lots of missing items, broken items and the return from Italy found the shipping container with her grand piano NAILED to the top of the piano.

    Treating the movers pays off short and long term. My very last move, paid for myself … was for goods that I had placed in storage for several years. When the movers arrived to unload the van in DC area – it was the SAME CREW who had packed me up in Hampton Roads, five years earlier!!!!! How happy was I that I had treated them well the first time!!! Nothing was broken, torn, dirty or missing. And movers were happy to see me!

    Packing and moving is HARD, HOT, SWEATY WORK!!!! In often rainy/snowy/steaming conditions. Would YOU want to do it every day??? UNless the service was terrible (in which case, call the TMO or the company ASAP before the movers finish their packing) TIP the folks!!! They EARN IT!!!!!!!!!

    • tina

      whats a good tip for a pack out and move ???? 3 guys

  • While I always have food and drinks for the movers, I have never tipped them in cash. To the previus gentleman who posted…the movers have chosen to be movers. They are not beig forced into this work, so I don’t think tipping them cash is required —they don’t EARN it. They earn a salary. A tip is for going above and beyond what they are supposed to do anyway. Tip, no tip, drinks, food, whatever, should not determine whether your belongings make it in one piece, unharmed!! This is the job they are already being paid to do.

    • CollegeStudent

      Are you being serious? So in other words, you are saying that you would not (and do not) tip your waiter at your local restaurant on the basis that they chose to be a waiter and there for do not EARN it? I work summers as a mover and let me tell you that it is some of the hardest work that anyone could do. We are handling your lively hood and you think that we do not EARN a possible tip at the end of the day? I worked an average of 60 hours a week and we do not get paid squat for the amount of back breaking work we do. If you tip the waiter that brings out a plate of food and asks you a few questions and do not tip the movers moving your house, you have a serious problem.

    • Rose

      Wow! The salary the earn is not commensurate with the amount of labor that goes into it. The moving company takes the bulk of what is paid and the workers are making minimum wage in many cases. Yes, they may have chosen that job, but you have no idea what their circumstances are and what has put them there. How about a little compassion for others? If you can afford to tip, do so especially if they have done a good job. A tip is pretty standard in all service industries, so why make an exception for movers?

  • Julie

    I have worked in the moving industry for 15 years from receptionist to owner to contractor. I personally go out and pack with my employees and the majority of the moves are military. That means that the government pays for everything. Knowing that I can tell you that most people neglect to tip, offer lunch, water, or even thank us. It is a difficult task and often the customers are unorganized and houses are filthy. When tips are received it is highly appreciated. My employees do a quality job regardless and I remind them when the complaints start that tips and refreshments are a bonus and your service does not depend on them. My husband has gone out of his way many many times for services that were not part of the move…needless to say the tips and thanks are usually missing.

  • Julie

    P.S. Never tip or offer alcohol. It is illegal to carry in commercial vehicles and as an employer I would fire an employee on the spot if I found them drinking on my clock.

  • KIS

    Are you crazy, next we are going to be tipping gardeners and mechanics. If they (the movers) don’t like the job, then get a new one. It cost enough to hire a moving company. A proper moving company will train their movers properly and that cost will come out of the cost on the invoice. Just keep them hydrated and be kind to them.

    • colin

      my moving company doesn’t train anyone like I was told I would be during the interview. They just through me into the mix of things expecting me to figure it out on my own. I had no training or temp period. They did this to save money…and I’m sure it’s not the only moving company that skips on the training.

      I’m doing back breaking work…customer’s get angry if I make a mistake (which happens regardless of experience), and I was not trained. Think of how stressful it is for me to want to do a good job but can’t because I wasn’t trained…and to top off my day after busting my ass trying my best, is going home with an empty wallet not being praised at all for moving thousands of pounds of your belongings.

      And a lot of the time we try to save you a couple hundred on the expenses because we aren’t the ones who suffer in the company by charging less.

      A $10 or $20 means the world to me when a customer hands it to me. It literally makes my day.

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  • mel

    hahaha ok so i laughed so hard, i used to be a mover in my college years and i have to tell you, if you as a client do not tip you have to expect to find some of your belongings crashed, scratched or missing. Larry boy, how do you tip 10-20$/person having a piano to move? you guys …I don’t know where you live, on Mars? you live all your stuff in their hands and with a lunch or 10-20$ do you think you’ll have great service? hahhaha …ooohh i had some crazy clients back in my days, so much drama…Kelly i think you’re that single lady with a cat or 2 right? i think they earn it, moving your hairy and filthy belongings? how about the waitress who’s spitting in your food knowing you from the last time when you didn’t live her a tip.

    • brian
      • guest

        Bingo!

  • Kate

    What kind of lunch do you provide? Do you take orders of just put something out there?

    • KateKashman

      Kate, it depends on what is going to work for me. Sometimes I take orders, sometimes I just offer what’s available. It also depends on what sort of lunch we’re offering, whether my husband is available to help, whether I’m dealing with kids, etc.

    • Krista

      We used to order pizza, but once we asked our movers about it and they said they get fed pizza A LOT. So we’ve switched to getting a big deli platter of sandwiches. They always seem to appreciate it and we make sure to have a fridge full of bottled water.

      Some other tips I’ve heard are to avoid supplying pop/soda because it dehydrates you and also any brightly colored gatorade type drink, because frankly accidents do happen.

  • peter

    you guys crack me up ive been moving for 25 years and to a qualified mover who takes care of your things from one end of the country to the other ,delivers your belongings on time ,unpacks your cartons sets up your beds tables etcc yes a tip is expected and well deserved although if your service is lacking then i would say no tip i typically dont do military moves because the goverment pays so little in comparision to everybody else that your moves are more a non money making event for us that we have to do cause it is a contract that the vanlines have that have to be serviced so we can do the moves that really pay so keep that inmind when deciding to tip or better yet keep that in mind when you want to put in a bogus claim that will ultimatly come off the drivers pay in the form of a chargeback

  • john dunn

    nope!

  • colin
  • KDP

    I’m really glad that I learned about this norm because I had no idea that it was expected. My husband’s job moves us around the world every couple of years and we both didn’t know. I feel really bad for all the movers that we didn’t tip and had apparently been expecting it.

    However, to all of the movers out there- to intentionally be less careful with our stuff because you’re not going to get a tip is inconsiderate to say the least. You are entrusted with moving people’s lives, their memories. It is devastating when something that may have no value to you but is priceless to the person is lost or broken. When you are upset with someone for not doing something that you expected them to do (such as tip), keep in mind that they may have no clue about your unspoken expectations.

  • chad

    I tend to provide food, and drinks. However, I do tip as well, but I can’t afford to tip each mover $20! We have 3 crews come, one for household goods, non-temp storage, and unaccompanied baggage. Say they have a crew of 4 for packing, 4 for moving on each of the 3 moves. I would be looking at $3-400 in tips alone! I could see if a single company serviced the entire move, however, the way our move is set up, its just not feasible.

  • mover

    NOTHING SAYS THANK YOU LIKE A $20 BILL!!

    it is easy to tell if someone’s going to tip..its easier to drop a box filled with glass that’s at a 60cents per pound insurance rate

    • Nan

      I want to say, that I do read the reviews of movers on Yelp, and if there are a lot of complaints about a moving company dropping and breaking things, I will not hire that company. I also write reviews on Yelp. So there is more at stake, than you getting your tip. Your company could go out of business and you with it!

  • Marla

    I have our first move here in a week. My husband isn’t here, I’ve got two kids and we barely have enough money to get us to the new post and my life is stressful enough as-is, so when I come on here and read about how people are going to break my stuff if I don’t hand out 20’s to each mover makes me feel sick. I don’t know what I’m going to do now but this was the last thing I wanted to see today when I was looking up what to expect.

    • colin

      Also, remember…we are working for near minimum wage…money is just as tight for us as it is for you…only we’re breaking our backs moving your prized possessions.

      • Echo356
    • Mike

      Marla, please to do not stress over the tipping issue. I’ve been moving for 12 years in the military and have never tipped, although I always provide them lunch and drinks (i usually order pizza or pick up sub-sandwiches and gateraid). If you can’t afford to tip, don’t do it.

      • Christina
        • colin

          it’s usually pretty easy to tell if a customer will tip based on how nice they are (obviously the nicer people tip better). Sometimes I think someone will tip, but they don’t. Either way, I always work my hardest with the off chance of getting a tip.

          Getting snowballs sounds like a very nice treat for the movers. It’s something that tastes good, and will cool them off. Good call on that.

      • Christina
      • Echo37
  • Lucy

    I didn’t know a tip was expected… I will tip from now on though since the last movers lost my hardware for all my stuff. It was probably on purpose since I didn’t really tip or provide any beverages. I figured they’d bring their own… Lessons learned.

  • Travis
  • John

    I am an active duty military who’s a child of moving contractor’s who are successful and very professional. I have helped them out each summer and part time before I joined since I was 14. I believe tipping is the right thing to do because some people have some nasty things that you yourself don’t want to touch but expect a mover to get under your bed or carry your pee stained mattresses. I know moving isn’t the ideal career and my parents didn’t choose to stay in this field but have made it successful for themselves. Again, tipping isn’t required but greatly appreciated on a 90 degree day humping couches and heavy boxes all day. But for military people who do not pay for their moving costs, a tip from you isn’t out of the question. Again, consider tipping the next time you have your mover picking up the dirty diapers from under baby cribs or having to wash their hands after handling your dog hair covered couches or pack your dirty dishes.

    From a military member with a mover’s perspective.

  • Elle

    We provide snacks, cold drinks, and lunch for our packers and movers because they are working very hard to pack and move our stuff. We also give cash tips to each person. I’m amazed at how quickly many of them can pack up and load our entire house when it would take me forever to do the same thing they do in just a couple of days. The movers are providing a service. When you go to the salon you tip your stylist, so why wouldn’t you tip the person that is handling all your worldly possessions?

  • SATX Mover

    As a full time mover, and college student, I like to say that it is always appreciated, but never expected. I work for an extremely high rated, and successful, local company in south Texas, often doing very long hours on very hot and humid days. The owner of the company works alongside me on each job.
    After reading some of this I feel a little spoiled honestly. We generally receive tips on about 85% of moving jobs averaging about $50 per person per day (i.e. 2 small jobs in one day totalling at $50 tip for the day, or 1 larger job) This number isn’t exact, and it does go up or down depending on the length of the job, but the effort, skill and care is always there. As we are working we don’t know whether the shipper (customer) will tip or not, so our effort has nothing to do with that. However, it is nice for our hard work to be appreciated, and I can tell you that there is a huge difference between good movers and bad movers. We have unloaded some interstate moves and storage moves that were just awful.

    PS- Providing food, drinks and caffeine will make your movers very appreciative and could lower your move cost. Breakfast snacks are something that I don’t see often as a mover, but when I do it makes me extremely happy. An energized mover is a quick mover.