Q: We live in an upscale building and always tip the building staff at the end of the year. Our tips total around $2,000, more than what we budget for gifts for our family. I’ve read many articles that discuss how confusing New York City tipping etiquette can be, but I’ve never seen an article that simply states advisable amounts. Could you please just tell me what’s a reasonable tip for a doorman, super, concierge and security staff?
A: In New York, Black Friday doubles as opening day for the holiday tipping season. For apartment dwellers, that means doling out envelopes of cash to the people who open the doors, clean the halls and repair your leaky sinks. Management will almost certainly give you a list of names so no one gets forgotten, but it won’t tell you how much.
So: How much? Sorry, but there is no simple answer. No one is hiding a secret spreadsheet with the truth. The amount you give depends on the type of building you live in, how long you’ve lived there and how much you use the services.
Someone living in a luxury Park Avenue co-op should expect to pay significantly more than someone in an Astoria rental. Even within one building, expectations vary depending upon how heavily you rely on the staff. If the afternoon doorman doubles as your personal valet, frequently carrying shopping bags to and from your double-parked car, you should tip him more than someone who expects nothing more than a cordial nod.
“There are no hard and fast rules,” said Steven D. Sladkus, a Manhattan real estate lawyer.
The real estate site Triplemint has an online Tip-o-Meter where you can enter variables and have it calculate a suggested amount “based on data collected from surveying over 100 NYC doormen in major neighborhoods in Manhattan.” For example, it estimates that a typical tipper who owns a two-bedroom apartment in a large building and uses staff a typical amount should pay roughly $78 to $118 per staff member. Supers generally get the largest share, followed by doormen and then porters. But if you have a special relationship with a certain staff member, you may want to pay more.
In deciding how much to give, think of holiday tipping as a bonus, not a gift. You are paying a collective sum for all the times when you might have handed the porter a couple bucks for carrying your bags up to your apartment but didn’t. Now is the time to settle the bill.
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