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Moving away from family & friends to live abroad? Afraid to tell them? Read This!

Here’s how to deal with unsupportive friends, fearful parents, and concerned loved ones in a respectful and tactful way when your moving away from family and friends and are afraid of the fallout.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
Afraid to tell friends and family you're moving abroad?
Afraid to tell friends and family you're moving abroad?

Whether for love, school, work, or retirement, the prospect of moving abroad can be thrilling. But telling friends and family you’re moving to another country, not so much, especially if you’re afraid of the fallout. Here’s how to deal with unsupportive friends, fearful parents, and other concerned loved ones in a respectful and tactful way when you’re moving away.

“I have learned along my journey that letting go doesn’t mean loving less.”-Alex Elle.

How to ease the minds of friends, family and loved ones left behind

Are you excited about moving abroad or even across the country?

Don’t crack open the champagne bottle just yet.

Depending on who you talk to, everyone will have a different reaction. 

Don’t be surprised if your friends, relatives, parents and even co-workers are the first in line to tell you that you’re making the biggest mistake of your life. 

Don’t take it personally

4 people holding emojis over their fact with different emotions

If your friends and family don’t support your decision to move abroad, don’t take it personally.

It’s a natural reaction for those left behind to voice their concerns. After all, you’re leaving the safety of your life behind to do something that may seem risky or out of character.

While the prospect of living abroad might be full of hope and potential for you, It’s also important to realize that moving away from family and friends to live in another country will impact their lives too. The loved ones you leave behind may struggle from you being far away.

Please don’t get defensive! Get ready for their questions and maybe a little pushback.

You might never be able to convince them or make them understand your reasons for wanting to move so far away, but you can help them prepare for the transition, come to terms with the idea, and let them know what to expect.

Here are some tips on how to deal with fearful parents, unsupportive friends, and other concerned loved ones in a respectful and tactful way. 

1) Make Them Feel Heard: Listen And Show Empathy

mother and daughter consoling a woman who is crying

Whether you’re telling your parents, best friend, or someone close to you that your moving away, it’s important to consider how they might feel.

If someone gives you grief about your decision, try to put yourself in their shoes.

What’s the main reason they’re being unsupportive? Is it from a place of love?

Show some empathy and let them know you understand their concerns.

Your conversations will be more successful when you take the time to understand where the resistance is coming from.

2) Ease them into your decision

sad woman with pouty face

You’re excited about the possibilities of your new adventure and can’t wait to share the news, but for goodness sakes, don’t just blurt out, “surprise, I’m moving abroad.”

Remember, your moving away and they had no choice in the matter. 

Before you say anything, take some time to plan your approach.

You’ll be better prepared when the time comes for you to talk about this exciting news that may be difficult for them.

Obviously, you can’t take away someone’s pain or shock – but you can soften the blow a little.

Create a safe space for your loved onse to experience the conversation, whether at a café over drinks or at home in your living room.

Sit them down and break it to them lightly, especially your parents. They may disapprove, but at least they’ll be aware of what’s happening and can prepare.

3) Don’t Argue

crazy angry woman screaming with hair standing straight up

Arguments are draining and take the focus away from your main objective and goals.

Instead, listen and make them feel heard, smile, and thank them for their thoughtful input. Please don’t shut them out, give them the silent treatment, or speak condescendingly either.

  • Try explaining why you’re moving and why it’s important to you.
  • Ask for their support during your transition and let them know they can visit (if they want.)
  • When in doubt, apply tip #1 and show a little empathy.

4) Agree to disagree:

Mother pointing thumb down: daughter pointing thumbs up

If you come up against unsupportive friends and family, never react, raise your voice or show anger. If you don’t respond or react to negativity and naysaying, then they have no power over you.

The best you can do is agree to disagree.

See next point about disengaging.

5) Disengage:

man and woman holding hands out indicating to stop

There’s no convincing some people.

Instead of being constructive, your friends and family may criticize and make backhanded comments that make you feel bad. If this happens, excuse yourself, step away from the conversation and disengage. It will be a tough enough transition as it is, and you don’t need the added stress.

If you can’t avoid them, politely let them know that you’re not interested in talking about the move right now. 

6) Assure them that you’ll keep in touch regularly

It’s important to remember that your well-being is important to your close friends and family. Assure them that no matter how busy you are, you’ll keep in touch with them through Skype, WhatsApp, phone calls and other means of communication.

A fun way to keep them updated is to post photos on Instagram, Facebook or other social media platforms.

7) Tell them your plans for moving abroad

Hearing from someone you care about that they plan on moving away from family and friends can be difficult. Understandably, your friends, parents and other family members may be concerned for you.

Try to reassure them that you’ve done your research (or will do research) and will keep them updated about your relocation plans.

For example, tell them about your new home, if you’ve chosen one yet. If you’re moving abroad to study, tell them about the new school and the new city you’ll be moving to. 

8) Protect And Safeguard Your Plans

Think of your goals and dreams to move abroad as an ice sculpture.

What would happen if you created a beautiful ice sculpture and left it out in the sun? It would melt. 

If you tell everyone about your plans at once, it can be like exposing your ice sculpture to the direct sunlight.

Be selective and tactful about who you tell and when you tell them. 

Alternatively, you could also keep certain aspects of your move abroad vague if you think it will cause an argument or worry your friends and family, but don’t lie. 

9) Change The Subject

This probably won’t work with parents or concerned close friends, but it’s worth trying with co-workers. 

10) Don’t expect them to pay

Happy man holding money in left hand and passport in right hand

If you live with your parents or someone supporting you financially, they might feel like they have a say in what you do with your life.

Expecting them to partially or wholly subsidize flights or your new life abroad will only reassure them that you need their help. 

You have two choices:

  • Become financially independent:  Explain to them that you plan to save enough money for your big adventure on your own without their help and ask for their understanding. Yes, it might be scary, but if you want to take the leap and move abroad and someone is unwilling to support your ideas, it’s time you show you can take care of yourself.
  • Keep accepting their help: If you absolutely need them to help you financially, for instance, if you want to study abroad, respectfully continue trying to make your case. 

11) Ask Them To Help You

Bullhorn with the words help coming out of it

What would happen if you asked someone to help you accomplish your dream of living abroad?  It doesn’t have to be monetary, although that would be nice, wouldn’t it? They might even be interested in helping you plan for your big move abroad. 

If they’re interested in helping you, let them know how much it means to you, especially the fact that they respect your decision.

 Helping you plan your big voyage may even give them the satisfaction that they are part of your success.

12) Ease their minds with your Backup plan

Elderly woman showing how worried she is

Getting caught in difficult situations can be very frightening.

To reduce any concerns your parents or friends have about your new life abroad, share your backup plan.

Don’t have a backup plan yet?

It’s important to have one in the event something unexpected happens.

Here are some examples:

13) Surround Yourself With Supportive People

You know that feeling of renewed energy after a nap or a good night’s rest- like you can do anything? 

Surrounding yourself with positive people or people with the same goals as you is like that.

  • Negative people can suck your dreams dry.
  • Positive people fuel your ideas.

If you can’t find anyone nearby, there are many groups and forums online where people like you exist. Connect with them and start talking to them.

14) Taking the kids abroad and dealing with guilt trips

Super dad and daughter dressed like superman

If you want to move overseas with children and you’re unsure how to deal with the negative comments, read this article I wrote about Moving Abroad with children: Dealing with guilt trips and negative comments.

In it, I share six responses to six things naysayers and energy vampires have said to me to try and shame me or make me feel guilty about moving abroad with my kids.

15) Let It Fuel You!

If you’re like me, when someone tells me I shouldn’t do something because it’s a bad idea, it’s like adding gasoline to my determination. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than proving to someone that I can do something, especially after telling me I can’t.

Let their negativity be your fuel rather than a deterrent.

Tell Them Goodbye in Person

woman standing in front of big bon voyage sign

Life is full of hellos and goodbyes.

Telling your friends and family that you’re moving abroad can be difficult, but with a bit of empathy and preparation, you can help them understand and cope with the loss of your physical presence.

To show how much you care about those close to you, say goodbye in person to as many of them as possible. 

Go to the beach together, invite them over for coffee, or go out for a drink. Why not host a farewell party or throw yourself a going-away party before moving away?

Making these moments special together before you start your new journey abroad will show them how much you care about them.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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