Move Planning

A Handy Guide to Tipping Movers

After weeks or months of planning, packing, and decluttering, moving day has finally arrived. You’ve got all your boxes organized and you have a team of helpful professional movers to help with your relocation. If they’ve made your life easier, you might be wondering if it’s okay to tip the movers and how much you should provide. After all, they moved everything for you from your furniture to your fragile items. So what’s the tipping etiquette and how do you make sure the moving crew knows you are satisfied?

Should You Tip?

So long as the movers did their job, you should provide a tip. It’s a great way to show your satisfaction with the job and appreciation for the efforts of the crew. How much you tip depends on you. In general though, you should tip around $4-$5 per person per hour. So if there are two crew members who work a total of 5 hours, you should tip each person around $20-$25 or around 10% of the total split between each person.

Of course, you can tip more if you felt they provided excellent service. Conversely, if the movers were rude or damaged a lot of your items, you can lower or forgo the tip entirely. You should plan to provide some kind of tip so make sure to work that into your moving budget. Set aside more than you think for the tip. If you don’t end up using it all, you can put the rest towards fun home stuff.

Calculating Your Tip

Quality movers provide ongoing training to their employees as well as custom services to their customers to stand apart from their competitors. That should hopefully translate to a good minimum level of service. Still, there are a few factors you should consider when deciding tip amount:

  • Professionalism – did the crew arrive on time? If they did not, did they contact you beforehand to let you know? Were they friendly to you and your neighbors?
  • Weather conditions – are your movers dealing with super hot temperatures? Or are they dealing with heavy snow, ice, rain, etc? You might want to tip more if they’re working in challenging conditions
  • Number of hours – An average move for a 3-bedroom house could take between 7-10 hours. Did your move take much longer than expected or did they finish early/on-time?
  • Oversized items – if you’re moving a lot of heavy and large items such as pianos, antique cabinets, pool tables, boxes of books, etc.
  • Tricky navigation – does your house or apartment have narrow hallways? Or perhaps the movers have to navigate up and down several flights of stairs?
  • Damage – always check your items before and after a move for any damages to the items. You should also check your old and new home to make sure nothing got scuffed.
  • Extra services – some moving companies offer free services with your basic moving service so long as you ask. This could include dismounting your TV, uninstalling your air conditioner, disassembling and reassembling basic furniture, and some packing of items like TVs, glass countertops, etc.

From there, you can increase or decrease your tip amount based on their job performance, amount of time they took, professionalism, and so on. Make sure you’re fair in your assessment. If they took longer than they expected but it was because you weren’t organized, then that shouldn’t be seen as an issue with the moving team.

Tipping Etiquette

While tipping your movers isn’t complicated, you’ll still need to do a bit of preparation beforehand. In general, most movers prefer their tip in cash so make sure to withdraw some money the day before your move. Keep this amount in a separate envelope labeled moving tip and put it in an easily accessible location like your purse, backpack, or wallet. Some movers do accept credit card tips so if you forget to take out cash, you can include the tip on the total. Just make sure to confirm with the moving company first and let them know that you want the tip divided equally.

For local moves you should tip after the crew has unloaded everything from their truck and you have made sure nothing is damaged or missing. Divide the tip evenly between all the crew members. Do NOT give it to the foreman to distribute as the total might just end up in their pocket. By giving each crew member their tip, you can ensure everyone is getting their share. If the movers try to haggle with you over the tip, call the moving company immediately to mediate the situation.

Cross-country moves are a bit trickier as you might be dealing with different people that are driving your belongings to your new home. If this is the case, it might make sense to tip your movers a set amount for each team beforehand instead of tipping just the final crew. If you’re unsure who is handling your items, ask the moving company and see how you can distribute your tips accordingly.

And while tipping is customary, it is okay to withhold a tip if the service was not up to par. Remember, a tip is meant to be a reward for a job well done and is NOT guaranteed. If the movers are unprofessional and generally did a poor job, you don’t need to tip. You should explain why you are not tipping and you should also call the moving company to explain the situation and mediate if necessary.

Other Considerations

The people you hire are moving professionals, but that doesn’t mean they’re superhuman! If anything, they appreciate it when customers show a bit of kindness towards them during the move. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, but things like providing cold bottled water during the summer or hot beverages in the winter can go a long way. You could even have some snacks on hand to give the movers a boost of energy. Don’t offer any alcoholic beverages as most companies do not allow workers to drink on the job.

Even if you don’t have the money to provide these extras, one of the best things you can do is leave a positive review and recommend the company to friends and family. It’s a quick and free way to show your appreciation.


I’m relocating because of my job and I need to document all moving expenses. How do I get documentation of the tip I provided?

Your best bet is to see if you can pay the tip via credit card as you will then be able to track your tip via your credit card transaction. If the company doesn’t accept credit card for tips, ask the company to include the tip on the final bill and have them send it to you.

How can I calculate my tip before I get my final bill?

Use the quote the company provided and multiply by 10-20%. You can also ask the moving company how many people and how long it will take to move your home and then multiply that by $5.

I’m using a professional packing service through the moving company. Do I need to tip the packers separately?

You should ask the moving company if the packers are a separate team from the movers. If they are, you should tip them separately. If they are not, you can always increase your tip amount.

Local Moving Long-Distance Moving

What’s the Difference Between Local and Long Distance Moves?

One of the first questions you’ll get when you call professional movers is whether you are making a local or long-distance move. While it’s obvious there are differences between the moves, it might be hard to understand the intricacies from a customer standpoint. Knowing what kind of move you’re going to need will help you save time, effort, and money in the long run. So what are the differences?

Local vs. Long Distance Move

It might be obvious that a move down the street would be considered a local move, but what if you’re moving 5+ hours away in the same state? Generally, a local move is defined as moving either within the same city or within a 50-70 mile radius of your current home.

On the flip-side, a long distance move is one that is more than 70 miles away and generally requires crossing state lines. Long distance moves require careful planning to ensure that the delivery arrives at the right place at the right time. Long distance moves might be calculated in days versus hours depending on how far you’re going. More importantly, crossing state lines means the movers will need additional insurance and licenses to cover different locations and policies.

So what happens if you’re moving 50-70 miles away but it’s in a different state? Well that depends on the movers and your location. For example, many NYC moving companies consider bordering cities in New Jersey and Connecticut to be a local move. Don’t assume that’s the case with all movers, though. You should always give your new address and ask questions!

Price Calculation Local vs. Long Distance

Understanding quotes and estimates from local movers should be straightforward so long as you are working with a reputable company. When talking to the company, give as much information as possible. The more detailed you are, the more accurate the quote will be. The most obvious information is how big your house is, your current address, and your new address. However, don’t forget to note:

  • If the movers will need to go up/down stairs at either of your houses
  • What extra services you’ll need (packing, storage, unpacking, packing materials)
  • Whether you’re moving any bulky items like pianos, pool tables, etc.

Based on the information you give them, they will calculate how many hours it will take them to move, how many movers you’ll need, and any extra services you add on. You can usually get away with  having an extra box or two on moving day as that won’t increase the total amount of hours it takes for your move. Just don’t expect to not get charged extra if you end up with 10 extra boxes!

Long distance moves are calculated differently. There are several factors they take into account to determine the total cost including:

  • How much you’re moving
  • The distance between the origin and destination
  • The total weight of items

Moving companies are required by law to charge by the pound. They must also follow the interstate tariff set by the United States Department of Transportation and might provide discounts. Long distance movers will set their charges in one of two ways:

  • Binding estimate – the movers will estimate the weight before providing the price
  • Weight – you get a price per pound and the moving company will weigh everything after

When you’re deciding which movers to use, try to find one that provides a binding estimate. As the name suggests, whatever price the movers give you will become a fixed cost. If you agree to the estimate, you will pay that price, nothing higher and nothing lower. Make sure to obtain quotes from several different places before you agree to the estimate as some moving companies might overcharge you. Also, you won’t be able to sneak an extra box or piece of furniture even if you have a binding estimate. After all, the estimate was only for the items you told them about. If you add anything new, you and the movers will have to renegotiate so it behooves you to be as upfront as possible.

Tips for a Local Move

Even if you’re moving down the street, you’ll want to stay organized when it comes to your local move. There might be no way to get rid of stress completely, but the following tips can make the transition much easier:

  • Find a daycare for your kids AND pets – depending on how old your kids are they might be helpful, but young children can easily become a distraction and might even find themselves in dangerous situations. The same is true for pets. If possible, entrust your kids and pets to friends or family members.
  • Choose your moving day wisely – there are a lot of things to consider when choosing when you will actually move. If you live in an apartment, you might not have that luxury since you have to be out by a certain date. However, think about the time you want the movers to show up as well as the day of the week. Weekends are usually busier, but more people might be available to help out. Weekends might be quieter, but you’ll need to take time off of work. Weigh the pros and cons beforehand so you’re not leaving the decision to the last minute.
  • Ask for help – there’s no shame in asking for help. Moving is a long and tedious process so the more help you can get the better. Your best bet is to call in professional movers to help load and unload your truck, but for everything else you should rely on friends and family. Bribe them with some treats if necessary to help spread the work.
  • Prepare your new home – depending on how much time you have, how far away your new home is, and whether or not someone is still occupying your new home, you might be able to prepare your new home before moving day. Take advantage of that time if you can! Do some light cleaning, look for trouble areas and patch them up, paint the walls, etc. Heck, you can even set up your small play area for your kids and pets so they have somewhere to hang out the first day/night.

Tips for a Long Distance Move

Long distance moves require a lot more planning and consideration especially if you’re moving cross-country. You will need to figure out when you will be available to receive the movers at your new place and whether you’re going to storage in transit. That means planning out your route, planned stops, and leaving plenty of room for traffic problems. Some other tips to make your long distance move go a bit smoother include:

  • Updating important documents – changing your address means you’ll also need to update your information in a lot of different places. If you’re moving to a new state, you’ll need to get a new driver’s license and registration. Don’t forget that you’ll need to update your address at your bank and online ordering sites!
  • Label your boxes with your name – during a long distance move your boxes will most likely be on a moving truck that is shared with other families. In order to prevent any mix ups, label every box with your name and phone number just in case it gets dropped off at the wrong house.
  • Triple-check your inventory – You will need to provide a detailed inventory to the movers before they load up the truck. Don’t lose this list! When the movers arrive at your new place, triple-check to make sure everything has arrived before the movers leave. That way, you can figure out if anything is missing.
  • Take extra care when packing – While you should always pack your items with care, you should be especially diligent when moving long distances. There’s more opportunities for your belongings to get damaged the longer they are on the road. Wrap your fragile items with bubble wrap, paper, and old t-shirts to prevent vibrations. Tape the sides of all your boxes for added sturdiness.

Make Your Local or Long Distance Move

Now that you know the two different types of moves, you’ll need to find a reputable moving company to help you! Great Movers can help you with every move and will walk you through every step of the way. We’ll do our best to create a customized moving plan to suit your budget and needs. Simply contact us and we’ll provide a free quote.


How much do local moves cost?

The cost of local moves depends on how much you’re moving. With that said, the national average for a one bedroom is $1,400.

How much do long distance moves cost?

As you might expect, long distance moves will be more expensive than local moves and varies based on a variety of factors. However, the average cost of a long distance move is $4,000.

Can’t I just rent a truck for my move?

If you’re really tight on budget then you can certainly save a lot of money by renting a van or truck. With that said, you’ll need to load and unload everything yourself and deal with traffic, parking, etc. If you’re living in an apartment building you might have to hire movers as many buildings require proof of insurance to cover any damage that happens to the building during the move. Make sure you ask your super and/or building manager if that’s the case before you rent a van!