You Have to Tip Military Movers?


It’s a endlessly debated topic: just how are you supposed to treat your military movers? Is providing lunch enough? Should you buy them drinks? Are you supposed to tip them? And, if so, how much?

In my house we’ve always ordered pizza and provided waters or gatorade for our movers. While we pride ourselves on being excellent tippers when eating out, tipping our movers, all of whom we have loved, had never even crossed our minds.

Does that make us bad people? Surely we are not the only ones who have never tipped a mover.

Since we know that SpouseBuzz readers are just confused about this topic as I am, I decided to go straight to the source and interview a few actual movers about how they like to be treated. Do movers even like eating pizza? If you don’t tip do they drive back to the warehouse and take a bat to your stuff? Or is tipping just a nice yet uncommon gesture?

“I think tipping is expected,” said Charles White, a long time military mover who now heads the government and military relations desk at the International Association of Movers. “People come into your home and they work hard and they are spending that day with you … I think that some type of tipping is very common place and is wonderful.”

White said tipping each crew member between $5 and $20 – depending on the quantity of stuff and how satisfied you are with the job – would be normal. And don’t assume the same people who pack the truck will be unloading it. Instead, tip after the pack-out as well as after they move you in. The likelihood of encountering two different crews is high.

John Bisney, a spokesman for the American Moving and Storage Association, agreed that tipping is commonplace, but said that doing so is really up to you, the patron.

“If you do decide to tip them it’s really up to you,” he said. “I don’t think it has to be a lot – and it may depend on your sense of number on if you think they did a good job. But if they had to navigate a lot of narrow steps, or you have a lot of heavy stuff -- if they really had to go out of the way for your move – tipping is nice.”

One of the common responses we hear at SpouseBuzz when we talk about tipping is that we should not have to do so based on our housing, since we cannot control the narrowness of our stairs. After all, we didn’t pick the house – the government did.

Another argument against tipping is that we aren’t footing the moving bill. The one doing the tipping, some say, should be the government who is paying for the move. Even though we all know better, moves are not supposed to cost us anything – and tipping is not reimbursable.

Do you tip your movers? Take our poll below.


White said that, really, the most important thing is that we treat our movers as we would like to be treated.

“I would think the most important thing for them is, number one, (being) treated with respect,” he said. “They’re coming in and they’re handling your precious goods that are going out of sight. And if you treat them with respect then they are going to respect you and your goods.”

Some people do consider providing food and drinks as a substitute for tipping, while others do both, Bisney said. If you’re going to provide lunch, consider giving the movers a few meal options. Using pizza as the default mover-food may seem like a good idea, but if every person they’ve moved for the last month has fed them pizza, they will probably welcome something different.

“Really it’s sort of treating them as though you would any sort of guest to your home that’s going to be there for more than an hour,” Bisney said.

That includes going the extra mile by offering them coffee (if your coffee maker isn’t being packed) and designating a bathroom for their use, he said. Even the little things – like being ready for them when they arrive – make a difference.

“One of the most important things for moving crews is just to feel like they have a good connection with the consumer,” White said. “When they show up go out and introduce yourself, make you feel welcome.”

What are your tips for working with military movers? Do you tip?

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