Move Day Etiquette—11 Things your Movers Want you to Know

Dealing with customers isn’t easy.

We can be demanding, fickle, and downright rude under the right circumstances.

Now, take those challenges and apply them to a situation in which workers are carrying heavy items like armoires, refrigerators, and king mattresses.

Throw in inclement weather, relatively low pay, and difficult working conditions, and you’ve got a realistic glimpse into the daily lives of movers.

Though it’s their job to keep you happy, by keeping them happy in turn, you’ll significantly increase the likelihood of your move going off without a hitch. (The best thing for a stress-free move is hiring a reputable mover).

Want to know how?

Great, because it’s easier than you think.

1. Know your mover’s policy on helping

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Since you’re paying the moving company, it should be OK to help them, right?

Right—kind of.

Company policies vary greatly when it comes to helping, but they protect you, the crew, and your property from needless injury and damage.

If you’re moving locally and paying by the hour, anything you can do to speed things along will save money.

But remember, if you’re moving out of state this isn’t necessarily the case, because the charges for interstate movers are based on weight and miles, not time.

It’s also important to note that just because you think you’re helping doesn’t mean you really are.

In fact, you may be preventing the movers from doing their jobs efficiently, and it may actually increase the cost of your move.

It’s always a good idea to address the help issue during the pre-move screening process, but almost without exception, customers aren’t allowed on the mover’s truck—so don’t go there.

2. Keep kids and pets out of the way

Sure, your kids and pets may be adorable, but that doesn’t mean movers want them underfoot all day.

Rambunctious kids and careless pets running roughshod through a disheveled home full of working men and women not only slows down the moving process, but it makes it dangerous too.

Tripping over a cat or toddler while lugging a triple dresser down a flight of stairs could spell serious trouble.

If possible, send children and animals to a friend or relative’s home for the day.

If that’s not an option, consider having one parent take them out for ‘family fun day’ while the other stays behind with the movers.

Barring that, set a bedroom aside where they can relax safely and comfortably out of the way until the movers are finished.

3. Follow-through on your commitments

Though moving heavy items like sofas and washing machines tend to take center stage, there are tons of little details you’ll need to address beforehand.

Here we’re talking about things like disconnecting appliances, disassembling beds and home gyms, and removing mirrors from dressers.

And let’s not forget emptying your lawnmower’s gas tank and having your BBQ grill’s propane tank professionally purged and certified.

Most movers will gladly take care of the beds and mirrors, but for liability reasons, they may not disconnect appliances or mess with elaborate exercise equipment and flammable substances like gasoline and propane.

They may be able to schedule some of these services for you, but they’ll cost a pretty penny, and you can probably do them yourself.

If you weren’t able to do some of the things you said you would, let the moving company know so they can schedule additional services or increase your crew size.

4. Have everything packed

When it comes to doing their own packing, many customers bite off more than they can possibly chew.

And though they may be pros at hiding it, professional movers usually roll their eyes and sigh in exasperation when they walk into a home that’s days away from being move-ready.

If you’re paying for professional packing service, this won’t be an issue, but if you’re doing it yourself, finishing up before move day should be a big priority.

These days busy schedules are the norm, so it’s a great idea to follow a packing schedule that begins well before move day.

Set aside 30 minutes or an hour a day, and start with the things that rarely get used. Better yet, follow our moving timeline to stay on top of your move.

Basements and attics are logical choices because they often contain holiday items, seasonal clothes, and toys that no longer interest the kids.

If you’re paying by the hour, having your movers stand around waiting for you to finish last-minute packing can make an already tense and expensive situation even worse.

5. Make sure the movers have easy access (inside and out)

Especially if you live in an apartment complex or high-rise building, making sure the movers have the easiest possible access is imperative.

If they’ll need to use elevators and loading docks, you may need to reserve them in advance.

If this is overlooked, they could be taken by other movers on move day, which may lead to maddening extra costs that could have been avoided.

Inside your home or apartment, there should be clear, walkable paths leading to and from each room.

Movers don’t usually empty one room at a time but pick and choose pieces from multiple rooms as they’re needed to build tiers and fill empty spaces in the truck.

Giving them unobstructed access will keep things moving efficiently, and prevent accidents and unnecessary damage from trips and falls.

6. Designate a no-go zone

If your home or apartment has multiple rooms or a big closet, it’s wise to designate one of them as an area that’s off-limits to the moving crew.

There are always items the movers shouldn’t handle, and this will help ensure they’re not accidentally loaded while you’re not paying attention.

As you’re doing the pre-move walk through with the movers, point out the area that they shouldn’t enter, and tape a big sign on the door so they don’t forget.

As previously mentioned, this is a great place to stash kids and pets, as well as personal belongings, important documents, and valuables you’ll be taking with you.

7. Empty drawers (if your mover asks you to)

All moving companies have different policies when it comes to moving furniture with loaded drawers.

It may depend on how far you’re moving, but you’ll want to ask before move day.

It may be OK to leave light and unbreakable items like clothes, bedding, and shoes in some drawers, especially if you’re just moving around the corner.

You’ll definitely need to remove anything heavy and breakable though, and small, easily lost items like pens, coins, and staplers.

Remember, movers often need to tilt and twist dressers and desks when lifting and moving them, so having empty drawers will make it easier on them.

8. Don’t go AWOL

Though they’re usually happiest and most efficient when customers stay out of their way, movers will need your input throughout the day, so there should be one responsible adult on-site at all times.

Watching movers work can make time grind to a halt, and though you may rather be sitting in an air-conditioned coffee shop with a mocha latte, you’ll need to forego that guilty pleasure until they’re done.

If you trust your movers and do need to run out briefly, tell them you’re leaving, when you’ll be back, and give them your phone number in case they need to contact you.

9. Don’t spring any big surprises on your movers

It’s move day.

The crew shows up ready to go.

A few moments of polite chatter ensue.

Then there’s an awkward conversation.

It goes something like this…

Customer: “Oh, by the way, we just bought 3 ATVs, a 12-person Jacuzzi, and a fully-furnished summer home 80 miles away. They’ll all need to be moved too, will it be a problem?”

Moving foremen: “Yes, it will be.”

These constitute ‘big surprises,’ and movers tend to react to them with shock and derision—unless they’ve been notified beforehand, in which case they’re usually no big deal.

10. Tipping

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for tipping movers.

Tips run the gamut from zilch to hundreds of dollars, and there’s often no correlation between good service and the cost of the move.

Though they’re always appreciated, tips aren’t necessarily expected.

If you’re short on cash but still want to show your appreciation, there are things you can do to keep your movers happy.

In lieu of a tip (or as a supplement to a modest one), consider buying them water, soda, or Gatorade.

To avoid having to leave on move day, buy drinks and a bag of ice the day before.

Set a cooler aside, and prepare everything before the crew arrives.

Cold drinks go a long way, and if your crew is doing a particularly good job, sending out for pizza or sandwiches may be in order.

Movers who’ve been fed, refreshed, and appreciated throughout the day are much less likely to feel stiffed if they don’t get a tip.

11. Have payment ready

If you’re paying with cash, don’t pull the old ‘I lost my wallet routine.

From a mover’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than fighting about money after a long day.

Though most customers pay with credit cards, cash is still an option, especially on local moves.

Make sure you have enough money on-hand if your actual move costs exceed the estimate.

For credit card payments you’ll likely need to give your card information to the company when you book your move.

They probably won’t charge your card until after the move, but if there’s a problem on move day and it looks like they won’t get paid, they may hold onto your items until they do.

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