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Dear PoPville – Tipping Movers and Paying Cat Sitters

by Prince Of Petworth July 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm 39 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user AggieMAB

“Dear PoPville,

1) I’m having a trailer-full of furniture moved from Tennessee to DC. It’s costing about $2,000. Do people generally tip their movers, and if so, how much?

2) How much do people pay for housesitters, who are friends/coworkers as opposed to people who actually do this for a living? I have two cats. Say it’s a four-day weekend. $100? More? Less?”

  • WDC

    Movers – is it a guy and his truck? No tip for the owner, something for his hired helper. If it’s a company with hired muscle, I’d tip them each a minimum of $20, and maybe tack on an extra $5 for each hour of active sweating past the first three hours.

    Housesitters – yeah, $100 for the long weekend sounds about right. Maybe $100 plus a nice bottle of wine or NICE souvenir from your trip.

    • anon


      • OP

        It’s two guys with a truck who work for the moving company.

        • WDC

          I’ve heard the general rule that the self-employed don’t get tips (the owner of the salon, for example) but employees of larger entities do (the hairstylist who rents a chair in the salon).
          In your case, sounds like they are employees, so I would tip them.

          • notolp


  • L

    1) You could tip the individual guys who are helping you on each day, an extra $20-40 each depending on level of difficulty and how many there are. They probably make a day rate from the larger moving company so tips are appreciated.

    2) It depends on the situation (how good friends are they, do they want to get out of their own house and stay elsewhere for the weekend, how difficult are your cats). Catsitters are typically 20-30/day for one 30 minute visit, more if it’s a live-in overnight type of thing. $100 sounds okay since it’s a friend, but a bit on the low side. I tend to err on the generous side so as not to annoy friends who are doing me a favor… If they refuse payment, you could get them a gift cert to their favorite restaurant or something like that.

    • Jen

      $20-30 per day for a half hour?! Who do you use? Try FurPals- it’s $17 per day and we have used them for years. Awesome people.

  • ML

    We decided to pay our cat sitters (who are just coming by to feed, check the litter and water the plants) in baked goods. I’d say depending on the number of cats, how well you know the people and what you ask them to do. Since they are house sitting as well, I’d second the $100 plus a bottle of wine.

  • SF

    Does anybody else think it’s strange to pay friends or coworkers to cat sit? I mean, buy them something nice and thoughtful, but for cash to change hands among friends doesn’t seem right. I would never accept cash from a friend who asked for me to cat sit.

    • Overseas

      Yeah, I think it’s a little weird. We had a friend cat sit but brought her back some really nice gifts from abroad. We also plan to make her a good home cooked meal.

      • sneaks

        As someone who has house and petsat (sitted?) for friends, the offer of payment is greatly appreciated. That being said, I usually refuse it, but it’s nice to know that someone recognizes the work/stress that goes along with watching someone else’s pet!

    • Cait B

      I’d agree that it would be weird and/or awkward to pay a friend or coworker. Isn’t that what friends are for?

      • Anonymous

        yes, yes it is.

    • Anonymous

      yes. a gift is appropriate. i wouldn’t pay them.
      when i cat sit for beighbors i don’t even expect that and wouldn’t mind if they didn’t.

      • Anonymous

        or neighbors.

  • Anony

    I don’t have cats, but have dogs. When friends stay I don’t pay them, but give them a nice bottle of wine. I also don’t expect (or receive) anything from my friends when I dog-sit their dogs. I think payment would be awkward, unless it is agreed upon previously. In my book the best payment for dog-sitting (not far off from cat-sitting) is a favor in return. BUT, I do pay my neighbor because she is in more of a situation where she needs the cash (though she has never requested it). I think it really depends on the situation of how difficult the job is, how close you are to the sitter, if you have some favor you could do in return, and perhaps differing economic situations.

  • Anonymous

    I moved in Dec – one large truck from downtown to upper NW. I paid to have the house packed, moved and unloaded – my total was close to 8K. I gave each of the 8 movers $50 in addition to food – breakfast (donuts from KK and coffee from Starbucks) lunch (pizza, soda, gatorade). Oh and a handshake with a genuine “thank you, I couldn’t have done this without you”

  • Enos

    I really hate the tipping culture we have. I’d prefer that all the costs to be included in price. I always struggle with tips. Some things that are tipped today weren’t tipped 30 years ago. The norms change and are still somewhat regional; there’s no easy way of tracking them.

    I grew up never knowing that anybody tipped the mail carrier. Then I found out half my street does it and I’m the sod that doesn’t.

    • e-beth

      Tipping the mail carrier???? I never heard of that. Maybe I am also out of touch…Dang and I thought I did alright at tipping…

      • greent

        For my peeps, it was always a holiday/end of the year tip for the mail carrier. When I was a kid, we gave home baked goods, as my family had little cash.

        But yeah, I still tip the mail carriers. I leave an envelope in the box with a card & cash for them.

        • Steve

          tipping the mail carrier? I think thats illegal

          • Anonymous

            under 20 is legal. so are cookies.

          • greent

            I’m willing to risk it.

          • Steve

            I am actually curious about this because I may have the best mail carrier in the history of mail carriers. My understanding is that tangible gifts valued at under $20 are legal but that cash of any amount is illegal.

            As far as willing to risk it, it is not you that is risking it, it is the mail carrier who is risking it

          • greent

            Never had an issue in all the years I’ve done it, in all the places I’ve lived in.

            Captcha: Dan S

      • Anonymous

        i do. but i work from home and ship a lot of packages.
        if i didn’t, i wouldn’t tip them.

    • Anonymous

      what do you feel expected to tip for now, that you didn’t in the past?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve usually tipped movers $20 each for moves within DC — if they were coming from Tennessee, I’d probably tip $50 each.

  • Brookland

    For movers we normally tip between $20-$40 for a full day of work, plus provide food and drink all day (and normally a beer or two at the end of the day).
    When I had a cat, I would get the friend a restaurant gift certificate or something of the like since I felt weird giving friends cash.

  • ZZinDC

    I did a lot of house-sitting while I was in grad school and believe me, although it was nice to spend some time in someone’s much-nicer-than-mine house, that was hardly payment enough. Cash was always included in the deal. Certainly the amount depends on the situation but remember that there is effort involved – dogs to walk a couple of times a day, various animals to feed on time and (in one case) with diets that varied by day. One woman had several massive feeders for wild birds which had to be filled several times a week – so I would always prefer money to gifts or things. (And btw, food in the house was always available as part of the deal…not the wine cellar or anything special, but the basics in the fridge and pantry, so payment in additional foodstuffs would not have been anything I’d be interested in.) But the bottom line is: all of this should definitely be worked out in advance; just because they are friends or colleagues doesn’t mean you can’t say, “This is what I am offering – do you accept?” And if they decline, you move on, or negotiate.

  • X

    Absolutely tip movers – longer haul movers about $50 each. Providing coffee and some breakfast pastries in the morning (if they are coming in the morning) or lunch in the afternoon – and plenty of icy cold water to drink throughout the time they are working, is really appreciated. I have spent most of my life moving (military child, then company moves as an adult) – tipping on both sides of the move may seem like a lot, but it generally means nothing will be “lost” in the move. (Unavoidable accidents will still happen, but they are more likely to own up to them.)

  • greent

    When I had a dogsitter stay at my place, I paid the fee to the agency, then left 100$ for tip/groceries while they were at my place – but all the food I had at the house was included for consumption. And then I left a 6 pack or bottle of whiskey, depending on how her week was going.

    When I cat/dog/baby-sit for my friends, I acccept gifts – but no payment. Friends are friends for a reason.

  • Ans

    I had a cross-country move to DC, with packing services, although I don’t have a ton of stuff. (1-BR apartment.) It was one of these deals where three guys pack it and load it on to a truck, then it gets transferred to a bigger truck, and then three different guys unload it.

    I gave the three packer/loaders $40 each, and they genuinely seemed /very/ pleased at the tip. I tipped the unloaders $20 each, and they certainly said thanks but weren’t effusive about it.

  • TKPK

    In terms of cat/house sitting, I agree that it really depends on the situation, but in my experience I’ve found that sweetening the pot with some money (say $10-20/day) makes it a little more of a business transaction, and decreases the likelihood of someone flaking out. For example, when I’ve simply asked friends to do me a solid and check on the cats over a long weekend, they’ve covered the bare minimum (making sure they aren’t dead and putting some more food in the bowl). Conversely, when I’ve paid friends, I’ve noticed that they make more of an effort to check the litter box, give them fresh water, and stay awhile to play with the them.

  • projectpj7

    As a former mover, I’m a bit biased, but think about it this way: If you’d tip a server to bring a plate of food to your table, it follows that you’d add some extra for someone who lugged a heavy dresser up your stairs. Just my two cents (hopefully you’d tip more than that) — but moving is hard work.

  • BBB

    If your stuff gets there at all. Go to the Better Business Bureau website to check out the company you hired. I’ve had a bad experience with hired movers, and heard even worse stories.

  • OP

    I got them off the BBB website.

  • Aim High

    I’m military and have moved a few times. I tip them as they’re begining to load my stuff. About 20 bucks each for helpers and 50 bucks for the driver. I try to catch them individually and as I hand it to them I tell them, “let me buy you lunch”.

  • anon

    We pay our cat sitter $15 per visit and they have to come twice per day because one of my cats needs medicine 2x per day. Included in that is some playtime, litter scooping (once per day) and bringing in the mail. I usually also give them a tip or a gift card or wine as well.


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