Tipping Movers & Packers - Long Distance

sdsnyder9June 20, 2007


We are moving to another state next week and are hoping someone can give us some advice regarding tipping.

There will be a crew of 5 packers, and it will take them 2 days to pack up the house.

There will be a crew of 5 to load the truck and a different crew of 5 to unload in the new state.

And the driver, of course. (He will have the load from start to finish)

I have read so many things on the internet and they range from no tips to 15% of the cost of the move. (The move will cost $13,000 - a 15% tip would put us in the poor house!)

We asked the rep at the moving company, and he couldn't really give an answer.

If anyone has any experience with tipping on long distance moves, we would greatly appreciate it!

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DD/DH had professional movers from San Diego to Austin a month ago. When they arrived we had the coffee maker on a table in the garage and a dozen donuts~there were only 3 men. We also put bottled water/canned soda in a cooler with ice.

I don't think a tip is 'expected', and is not the norm. ;o)


    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 8:11PM
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Wow, I don't know where you are patty-cakes, but I wish we were there! We have moved 8 times in 7 years and I think with the exception of 1 or 2 of those moves, we used movers. We ALWAYS tipped them. It was never a concrete percentage, just whatever we were comfortable with financially and how good a job we felt they did. The last move we tipped several hundred to the 3 guys who did the move. They worked their tails off and the moving company itself screwed them by not sending a big enough truck or enough men(not their fault that the company screwed up!). What should have been a 6 hour job was a 12 hour job.

Outside of my own experiences, an exBF worked as a mover one summer and while they never asked for tips, it was expected that they would receive tips. The driver always got a bigger percentage of the tip.

I would tip them. Even if it was just $25 each, I would do it. They work really hard and most of the time aren't paid all that well.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 8:19PM
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Unfortunately, the guys doing the major part of the work - the packing, loading, unloading and unpacking - make maybe $10 per hour. The moving company is who makes the money.

Just like service in a restaurant, if you get good service from the guys doing the work, they don't lollygag around, then a tip is more than necessary. I believe it is more than the norm to tip the movers.

I also provide snacks and beverages, and at the end of the day, they each get some cash handed to them personally.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 2:18AM
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Thank you for your input! I can't believe I forgot to put this in my question, but apparently moving stress is starting to affect me.....How much should we be tipping? We will definitely tip - those guys work hard - but how much for the guys, and how much for the driver? Also, do you tip the packers (a different crew of people) or just buy them lunch and supply drinks?
Thank you!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 7:25AM
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Do you have a budget?

I've never had anyone pack my stuff. We had the same set of people for both of my moves, what I did was supply the drinks / donuts in the morning. We then did pizza after arriving at the location.

I wouldn't think to tip the driver more, if they are all working, they all deserve the same tip IMO.

It all depends on what I can afford too. When I moved locally, I didn't tip them as much, maybe $50 between 2 people for a few hours of light work; I was also a single parent. When my parents came down here, they were tipped more, splitting a few hundred between a few people.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 8:14AM
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Gee, maybe I was too generous. I moved 1 1/2 miles (same town). It took 2 truckloads. I packed myself.

I made coffee. Bought them lunch & tipped each $50. There were 3 men doing the moving.
Was that too much? I felt badly because the move was in the winter... Their faces lit up when I tipped them at the end of the night-lol

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 8:54AM
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We also have always tipped. The amount has varied with the distance of the move, amount of stuff to be packed/moved, & the complication factor. For instance, once we moved out of one house & simultaneously moved into two new ones. The packers had to separate out what went where & color code it...very confusing. The movers had to be careful of what they were loading to assure everything arrived at the proper destination. We tipped all of those workers more than ones who moved us 2 miles across town.


dabunch, I don't think you tipped too heavy at all.

PS Don't ever move into two homes at the same time if you can avoid it! It was a nightmare & took me a year to get everything suffled around correctly. Not because the packers goofed...I goofed when instructing them what went where. I ended up with all of the TP in NY & none in CT, for example!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 9:10AM
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I moved locally last summer, and it was a crew of three.

It was sweltering in ways I cringe to think about, and the poor guys were dripping form the start. (remember that heat wave last July/August?!)

I am a single parent, so I couldn't go over board, but I gave the two guys $50 and the driver/manager $60.

I also had ton's of water for them and fruit.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 12:40PM
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I used moving companies twice. Years ago it was a cross country move. I didn't tip anyone. The loaders were not so nice and were late and I was young and didn't think about tipping. The guy who eventually delivered my stuff was 4 days late and came alone and my husband (boyfriend at the time) had to help unload everything.

Moved again last week - a local move - 4 guys. They were great. Provided them with lunch and tipped each of them $50 at the end of the long, hot day. (I was planning on $20 per person, but they worked really hard and I felt bad b/c my stuff is very heavy!) I highly recommend professional movers to anyone. Made the stress a little less!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 6:42PM
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Tipping depends on how good of a job they do. In melrosegirl's case, the first mover didn't deserve one cent.

But if you get guys who work really hard, take extra care of your belongings and are courteous, then a $50 tip each is not unreasonable. Of course, that also depends on if it is a long distance or local move. If the guys pack/load/unload/unpack your belongings and they are efficient, I personally would tip more. Also, lunch, beverages and a box of KrispyKremes goes a long way to their motivation.

For long distance moves when there are two different crews, then they get about $30 each depending on the job they do. If the weather is hot or cold, then a higher tip is in order, especially if they work really hard.

When I moved my stuff out of storage in Calgary, I had movers. Everything was packed, there were no stairs, they just had to remove everything from the unit and use a dolly to the truck. I bought Tim's doughnuts and coffee and tipped each of them $20.

When the lollygag around, don't take care of your belongings and are not courteous, they do not get a tip from me, but I will still feed them, have beverages on hand and doughnuts.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 1:16AM
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I'm copying Dabunch. We moved across town, packed myself and tipped 3 guys $50 each. They were just about jumping out of their skin with that tip. I thought it was fair, apparently thats a big tip for them. You couldnt pay me enough to do that job, they worked 8 hours straight, carrying heavy furniture and boxes the entire time. For those who said they didnt tip, well, I couldnt imagine not tipping people like that. You tip the guy who parks your car, the doorman, the girl who hands you a cup of coffee, the sky cap who puts a tag on your luggage. To not give a tip to people who work so hard all day just doesnt seem right to me.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 7:40AM
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Yeah I agree with some of the prior posts, that tipping is totally at your discretion. The few times I've moved I've never tipped; however, I've never had a good crew arrive to do the job they were paid to do (most of the time one or two people were working, while the rest goofed-off). To me, tipping more like having to bribe someone to do their job above the initial wage they agreed to. Coffee and doughnuts should be fine (depends if the crew shows up late), but beyond that, I'd be very hard pressed to offer more.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 7:41AM
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We've spent the past two days with the packers and movers. The packers did an ok job. Only one spoke English, two Spanish and one Russian. Interesting watching them try to communicate with one another. We had done a lot of pre-packing, like close to half our stuff, yet it took 4 of them 9 hours to pack the rest. We don't have that much stuff. We fed them lunch and dinner and tipped each of them $25, the lead guy $40. Figuring in their meals that was fair. The next morning when the loading guys got there we discovered they'd done a half a$$ed job on a lot of stuff. That's pretty frustrating. This crew however, rocked. They worked their butts off, never whined about the heavy furniture they had to lug from the basement or from the upstairs. We fed them lunch, only after we insisted they let us and they were done by 6pm. We tipped each of them $50 and they too were thrilled. The driver told us that it's pretty regional as to how they are treated. Shared how a few weeks ago he was moving a pastor and the congregation came to the house and had a huge picnic on the living room floor, but didn't even as much as offer them water throughout the day.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 10:31PM
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One time, years ago, when the military paid to have us moved half way across the US, we had the worst crew. It must have been a low-bidder and the military thing. The driver spent the entire morning stating outright about how he expects/earns/deserves big tips. He was a jerk. The crew that did the loading were idiots too- brand new white brocade sofa ended up in a snowbank, one pulled the molding off a custom built entertainment center- then said entertainment center was used to completely shatter a ceiling installed light fixture. Despite all those problems, the driver continued on about expecting big tips of no less than $1000. He got none.

A tip should not be an expected thing. Not at a restaurant, not by movers, not by the paperboy, not by anyone. It's a little extra for a job well done. If the job was well done, then an appropriate feeling tip should be viewed as just the icing on the cake by them. What you tip can also be influenced by if you will see the same movers on the other end. When we did that move (our last non-DIY it was a such a terrible experience), our stuff ended up in storage for a month and was delivered by an entirely different crew. A slightly larger tip might be in order if the driver/assistant do a great job and personally see it delivered to you on the other end. It can also be influenced by if you have anything of exceptional value that they pack and care for appropriately from door to door.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 5:24PM
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I've moved locally often (probably 10 times in 15 yrs) and always budget at least $200-275 to be divided between the 3-4 person team (usually a 10 hour job). For the large move that you are describing,sds1234, I would budget a tip of at a minimum of $7/hour per man. (And of course - drinks/food.)

One mover told me a story about a woman who didn't offer any water to his team and when requested, refused to let his team use her bathroom!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 11:28AM
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I had movers pack and move for us locally about 6 months ago. Because of the extensive amount of packing (over 300 boxes), and large amount of furniture involved, it took 5 men a total of about 19 hours over 2 days to complete the job. The packing and move amounted to around 4000.00. I gave the head guy 500.00 to split amongst the 5 of them how he saw fit.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 12:38PM
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DH's employer paid for our move. We were specifically instructed not to tip. I can't remember the details, but it was supposedly against some federal law. We did provide an iced down cooler full of Gatorade and water each day. We also bought lunch each day.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 1:38PM
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I gave the head guy 500.00 to split amongst the 5 of them how he saw fit.

That's an awesome tip, huggles, but I hope you gave it to him in the presence of the other workers because as you worded it, he could have kept the whole thing for himself.

I never give the tip to the head guy to distribute. I always give each guy his tip personally because you just never know if the lead guy will pass it on to the others.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Hi Sparksals-At the end of the move, I handed the money to the head guy while we were all standing in the new kitchen having drinks and finalizing the bill. At least 2 of the other guys were there too, and I handed him the bills folded, and said this is for you and the rest of the guys.So they saw me hand it to him, but they didnt know how much it was.

The head guy handled everything and made everything go so smoothly. He definately worked the hardest-not only telling each guy what to do, but getting down and dirty with the worst of the jobs. He also drove the truck which was huge, and difficult to get into my driveway. I know they were all also buddies outside of work as well-and there were definately guys there that had been doing it longer and were more skillful then some of the others. There was also a couple of the guys that I noticed made a point of taking the lighter boxes most of the time.

I figured the head guy knows what he is dealing with, and since he is the one who made it all so smooth for me, I would leave it up to him.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 11:08PM
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Part of it is where you live and I think whether you are on a hill, two stories, large heavy furniture etc, plus it sound like you have a lot of stuff (2 days?, 5 guys? Holy Cow)
I just moved from Omaha. Lower cost of living, lower expectations. However they had to load a bunch of stuff from the basement meaning they had to go uphill from the truck. Hot out. They were working hard and fast.
I was supposed to be packed myself but was a little behind so they driver and they pitched in a little. I gave each of the loaders 40.00 and the driver like 60? 70? I can't even remember. Plus I gave the loaders all the food left in my refrigerator and freezer which they actually seemed to appreciate. Some frozen steaks, chicken, bacon, frozen bags of fruit etc. and then a all the condiments etc. from the fridge.
On the other end I didn't think the unloaders had it as tough just taking the boxes off the truck and putting into a storage unit so I gave them 20.00 each. Remember too that I'm single though I have quite a bit of garage stuff.
For your amount of work and 2 days unfortunately I think your tip should be higher than mine.
I agree with sparksals on giving out the tip individually. You can fold it so they can't all see who's getting what. These guys essentially worked for you handling your stuff, they shouldn't be at the mercy of some job boss who may skim some off the top.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 9:40PM
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I don't tip people for doing their job. I will provide drinks and donuts but anything else, NO.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 5:04PM
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Hi there,

We are moving long distance in a few weeks and are trying to figure out tipping protocol. We are moving about 900 miles. It will be loading and unloading the truck. We will have the same guys on both ends. We will have 3 men. We plan to provide plenty of water and drinks as we are in south and it is hot here this time of year.

1.) What is a reasonable tip?
2.) Should we give it after they load up the truck at our current home or after they unload at our new home?

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 5:54PM
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We gave each man $50.00 tip plus lunch. We only moved 8 miles away but it was during a snow storm and the guys worked for 12 hours. I wish I could have given more.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 1:05AM
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I don't tip people for doing their job. I will provide drinks and donuts but anything else, NO.

Carol, just curious, do you tip a waitress or the pizza delivery guy? Both make less than minimum wage and depend on your tips to make a decent salary.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 9:34AM
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We moved from an apartment, where we we living while our house was being built, to our new home. I arranged with the movers to move us one day before our lease was up. That would give me an opportunity to clean the apartment on the last day of the lease. They called the day they were supposed to come and said they had to do another job and would be there after lunch - not enough time to do the whole move - so they came the next morning. Worked all day and moved everything to our new home. But, since I didn't get a chance to clean, the landlord charged me $120 for cleaning (I knew this in advance). The bill for moving was over $1,000. I paid them in full but no tip. The guy remarked on no tip. I said, their tip went to clean my apartment. If they had come when they said they would, they would have gotten the tip.

They lost some things and banged up some furniture. So, I don't feel bad. I would never use them again.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 2:15AM
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3 yrs ago we moved from MA to CA. I had a meeting with the packers at the beginning of the pack and gave them each $50. I said, don't damage the place or our things and there is another $50 at the end of the job. They complied and so did I. On the delivery end I did the same thing and those guys were also very good to deal with and they worked with us on the moving...and re-moving all our goods. Moving is stressful. We had good crews on both ends and the tips saw to it. Oh, and I did tip the lead guy a bit more to see that he ran the guys correctly.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 2:13PM
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