‘Tis the season for New Yorkers to unfurl their wallets in the spirit of giving—be it to donate or buy gifts for their loved ones—and while they may be sure-footed in that spending, many stumble when it comes to how much to tip the building staff. While The Holidays are still a ways off, most building attendants prefer to receive any niceties from residents in early December (like, now), so let’s get down to it.
A handy annual guide based on a memo sent out by Two Trees Management back in 2005 offers advice on how to dole out the dollars—original here, and years worth of Curbed tipping advice over here—but a memo that’s now over a decade old may be a less realistic guide for giving in New York City today. Good thing Brick Underground has rolled out its comprehensive annual tipping guide that addresses the nuances of holiday tipping in this day and age.
The long and short of it: no, tipping isn’t a necessity, but after this doozy of a year it’s a meaningful way to show one’s appreciation for those that make the day-to-day a little bit easier. How much appreciation should be shown to staff depends on the size of the building, the quality of service, how long a staff member has been with the building, and whether the tipper owns or rents, among other personal factors like financial ability.
Here’s a basic guideline per Brick Underground:
- Super, resident manager: $75-$175 on average (broad range: $50-$500)
- Doorman and/or concierge: $25-$150 on average (broad range: $10-$1,000)
- Porters, handyman, and maintenance staff: $20-$30 on average (broad range: $10-$75)
- Garage attendant: $25-$75 on average (broad range $15-$100)
In 2015, a poll of more than 1,400 New Yorkers found that majority of owners in doorman buildings set aside between about $250 and $500 for building staff, with majority of owners in non-doorman buildings allotting less than $250 for staffers. At that, one percent of owners in doorman building and 12 percent of owners in non-doorman building tipped nothing.
Renters in doorman buildings held their purse strings a little bit tighter with a small majority tipping less than $250. The same goes for renters in non-doorman buildings, who tipped less than $250 to building staff collectively. A big takeaway: about a quarter of renters in non-doorman buildings skip the holiday gratuities all-together.
Brick Underground has been surveying New Yorkers about their tipping practices for five years now, and some interesting trends have emerged from their data: New Yorkers have gotten more generous over the years (though the Great Recession may have a little something to do with that). Fewer New Yorkers said they wouldn’t be tipping last year than any prior year surveyed, and the number of New Yorkers who planned on giving more than $2,500 to their building staff was at an all-time high.
When it comes to actually giving, cash is preferred if gifts are being doled out directly, but if a super or other building staff member is collecting gifts, a check may be the way to go. Considering a gift-gift over a monetary gift? Brick Underground notes that “until colleges start accepting cookies for tuition payments or ConEd for utility bills, gifts are no substitute for money.” (Plus, some doormen have already confessed to providing less thorough service to residents who stiff them during the giving season.)
When it comes down to it, tipping is a building resident’s choice, but remember—everyone could use a little kindness this year.