Tipping Your Apartment Building Staff

The interior of Glenwood's luxury apartment building in Manhattan with a marble lobby and doorman services.
Photo Credit: Glenwood Luxury Apartments

The holidays are a time for giving, and that includes providing a small token of appreciation for the staff of the Glenwood apartment building you call home. From holding doors open for you every morning, helping you to carry groceries, or loading your car for a weekend out of the city, your building staff is just as much a part of your home as your apartment itself! We’re going to cover an important holiday related item: a guide to holiday tipping for your building staff. We’ve corralled a list of most asked questions to help you figure out how much to put into their holiday envelopes.

Who Should I Tip?

Sometimes large apartment buildings will send out a list right at the beginning of December to all residents, listing each building employee. The building’s super, doormen, concierge, and porters may all be included. Depending on the size of your building, this can range from just a handful of people to an entire football team (well, not literally, but you get the point).

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Figuring Out Your Tip

Now, we’ll preface this by saying tipping is a very personal thing, and much like NYC restaurants will often suggest you tip 20% for good service (as states the New York Times), it’s not a hard and fast rule. There are many factors that play into this, such as:

  1. How long have you lived in the building? If you just moved in a few months ago, your tips will probably look a lot different than a resident who has been living in the building for a decade.
  2. How often do you call on the building staff for favors? Are you the type of person who is in and out of the building with barely a ‘good morning’s to the staff, or do you frequently ask for a bit of extra assistance from them (letting you into your apartment when you forget your keys, helping to carry heavy packages, hailing cabs for you every morning)? If you fall into the latter group, your overall tip will probably be a bit more generous than those in the former group.
  3. What is your relationship with the building staff? Just like eating out in a restaurant, if you receive excellent service from your waiter, you’ll want to err on the upper side of tipping. However, if you’re disappointed in the quality of service, it’s still polite to tip something, but you’re not obligated to tip the suggested amount. Transfer this theory over to your building staff. Is there a particular staff member who is always extra helpful to you throughout the year, or someone who you barely have any interaction with? You can divvy the tips up between the two so that it reflects your relationship.
  4. Do you rent or own? Typically, renters can tip less overall than those who own apartments, simply because owners are seen as being in the building for the long haul, and renters can move every year or so.
  5. What dollar amount do you feel comfortable with? If you’re just starting out in your career or share an apartment with roommates, you won’t be expected to tip as much as a two-income family who has lived in the building for years.
A man holding an iPhone with the Venmo app downloaded to send money.
Photo Credit: Venmo

What’s an Appropriate Amount?

 Okay, now for the big question: how much should you tip? Again, there’ss no hard and fast rules here, but after personally living in doormen buildings in Manhattan for over a decade, talking about this with friends, consulting with building staff about best practices, and researching online what other people are doing, here’s a general guide:
  • Building Manager: $75-$175 on average (up to $500)
  • Doormen and Concierge: $25-$150 on average (up to $1,000)
  • Maintenance Staff: $20-$30 on average (up to $75)

So, let’s say that your building has a staff of 20 people. On the very light side of tipping, you’d want to factor in around $500 split between the crew, while the more generous side would be around $2,000. This is about a quarter to a half of your monthly rent/maintenance, give or take. It may seem like a lot on paper, but it’s just another expenses that can be chalked up to NYC living. (If you’ve ever lived in a non-doorman building and tried to get a package delivered, you’ll understand why having staff in the building is such a perk – worth a bit of extra money!)

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Cash or Check?

Tipping in cash is always appreciated, if you’re able to do this. Putting the money in a plain white envelope or an envelope with a simple holiday card and handing them directly to each building member is the best way to do it, rather than handing everyone’s envelopes to the super. If your staff has Venmo, it’s a quick and simple way to transfer directly and safely between bank accounts – no extra envelopes required!

When is the Best Time to Tip?

While tips are appreciated all season long (November through January), when the staff receive holidays tips early on in the season it allows them to factor the money in for personal family gifts and experiences, so the earlier in December, the better!

The interior of a Glenwood apartment building in New York City with wooden features and doorman services.
Photo Credit: Glenwood Luxury Apartments

Do I Need to Tip… Will Homemade Cookies Suffice?

Quick answer to this is no – you don’t need to tip just because you live in a luxury West Side apartment building with doorman services. However, you will definitely be in the minority. As far as baking cookies and giving them out in lieu of cash, while it’s a nice gesture, nobody will be able to pay bills or buy Christmas gifts with your baked goods. Cash is the best route to go here, even if it’s on the light side. Remember, this is all about appreciation!

Do you have any thoughts on holiday tipping for building staff? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!