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Moving Away From Family: Will the Guilt Kill You?

    girl holding hair looking at water

    Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by Kirsten Raccuia

    I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again… moving away from family is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. It doesn’t get easier each time you move, or each time you say goodbye. It sucks every.damn.time.

    If someone tells you it gets easier with each goodbye, don’t believe them. 

    I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time. But I kept putting it off. I knew it would be an emotional one, and I’m much better at hiding my head in the sand than blabbing on about my emotions. Maybe my blog should be called Head in the Sand, not Sand in My Curls.

    I’d sit down to write it, but I’d find something else to do instead, like brush my teeth and clean the toilets – anything but pouring my heart out. Writing this post meant confronting my feelings out loud, in black and white, and honestly, I just didn’t want to do it. I don’t like sad movies or books that make me cry. I spend a lot of my life trying to avoid crying. So why put myself through the sadness, why bring up all the emotions, why sit at my keyboard crying? 

    The resounding answer that kept creeping back in is that I can’t be the only one who feels this way. And maybe I could help another person who feels like moving far away from family is sometimes a mistake.

    So here goes, (*tears rolling, sniffffffle).

    The Far-Backstory

    blue background with script goodbye

    I moved away from my family for college. After I graduated, I took off on a few archeological digs in France and Greece. I thought I’d only be away for a few months. But after the digs, I traveled a bit and ended up in London for almost a year. Then 4 months in Brazil. Followed up by two years in South Africa. 

    Living abroad was never a difficult choice for me. The excitement of moving to a new place would override any sense of remorse. I had a new life and a new adventure ahead of me, even when it was hard on my family members. I was never afraid of moving away from family because that is not how I perceived it. 

    It always felt like what I should be doing. That’s not to say I didn’t miss my loved ones, I did. Horribly. But I thought I was where I was supposed to be at that moment, just like I feel now.

    But after returning from Cape Town, I settled back into Chicago. I did the things I was supposed to do in my mid-late twenties. I found a good job and started a career path. Life was comfortable and meeting Mark just solidified that for me.

    But from day one in our relationship, we talked about our desire to live overseas. It had nothing to do with moving away from family. But obviously, they are not mutually exclusive. We knew it would happen one day – in the future.

    For a decade, we talked about starting a new life abroad in Costa Rica, which would have been easier. A lot easier. But that’s a different story.

    The Why of Our Story

    man walking with suitcase into sunset

    Moving away from family and friends was very different this time. In fact, it was much harder. It was a complete emotional roller coaster. 

    I come from a small and tight-knit family, so making the decision to move again was especially hard at 39 years old. 

    We were happy in Chicago and very engrained. There was nothing wrong with our lives. We were successful in business, had many great friends, a beautiful skyline view condo, and loving family. But we wanted adventure. We wanted more out of life. 

    We were working so hard, and we both loved our careers, but life felt stale, and we knew there had to be a better way to live. 

    The mind-numbing routine of wake, work, sleep, repeat was sucking the life out of us. 

    And it was time to stop thinking about it and start doing it. We were both ready, and I felt like it was now or never. Mark felt ready to move a few years before me but waited patiently until it felt right for me.

    So, after a decade of planning, we were finally pulling the trigger. 

    In the summer of 2012, we put our plan to move into motion. On Thanksgiving of 2012, my stepfather died, forcing my mom to move out of the home she lived in for 25 years.  

    So there we were, in the throes of planning, and she was suddenly all alone. She was going through a significant life change and had to move into a new place, all by herself. 

    But things were already in motion, and my mom, who is stellar, strong, and incredible, encouraged us to go. A completely selfless act, because I am pretty sure she didn’t want me to leave (hi mom). 

    Thankfully, my mom moved within a few blocks of my gramma and brother, so I felt some solace knowing they had each other. No matter how far away I was.  

    As you can imagine, I was extremely torn. Should I follow my dream? Should I stop the move and stay in Chicago for my mom? I felt guilty about moving away from mom even before we left America. 

    The Guilt

    shadow of woman at sunset

    Still, after seven years, I have severe moving away from family guilt. It’s the kind that keeps me up at night. And it’s no one’s fault but my own. No one makes me feel bad about living here, well my gramma did, but we’ll get to her in a minute. It’s all on me. 

    Most of my days, I feel like I’ve made the best decision, but sometimes the guilt overwhelms me. 

    How could I move away from family? And why didn’t I just stick with Costa Rica? At least then, we’d be (almost) in the same time zone. We’d be six hours flying time away, instead of 26. But life doesn’t work that way. And here we are on the other side of the globe, literally. 

    We are the ones who decided to leave. I wish we were moving away from family for work, that would have been easier. 

    I don’t feel guilty or selfish for making the decision to move because it was our dream. My guilt stems from not being there for my family when they need me the most. Or when I need them the most. And just from being so damn far away. 

    A lot has happened to my family in the last couple of years. My brother moved to Arizona. At 100-years-old, my gramma had her leg amputated, and moved into a nursing home, which meant my mom was alone again in the city. Sure, she had a few friends, but no family nearby. So, my family’s proximity, the one aspect which gave me solace, was now defunct. Major mom guilt, again.

    The Grief

    black and white hand on window-moving away from family

    I know that moving far away means missing a lot of essential things in my loved one’s lives. I fully accepted that when we moved. However, that doesn’t make it any easier when things happen, and we aren’t able to be there.

    It’s hard to miss the good stuff: weddings, births, birthdays. It’s much worse to miss the bad stuff. 

    On April 23rd, my gramma died. We don’t really know if it was Covid because she never got tested. But none of that matters. We were supposed to be home on April 1st, which meant we would have been there for her passing. And to help my mom and uncle with the aftermath and her affairs. We would have been there. 

    Growing up, my gramma was one of two women in my life, and she had a significant impact on me. 

    She was a brilliant and strong-willed woman, right up until the day she died. Gma traveled to Israel, Spain, and Japan in the 1950s when they had to stop every few hours to refuel the plane. She took a train by herself to Memphis after having two kids, because she needed the adventure. 

    She was brave, hard-headed, and not afraid to tell us exactly what she thought – the good, the bad, and often, the ugly. I never said she was an angel. 

    That old goat was as feisty as they come, and the only one who would have the nerve to say, “Can’t you wait until I die to move to Malaysia?” She said that when we told her we were moving in 2013, and often when we went back for a visit. She was persistent and consistent in her grief-giving, especially to Mark, who she openly would blame for me moving, even at her 100th birthday party. 

    Look, I get that she was almost 103 years old and death was inevitable. But it was still a shock since, thankfully, she hadn’t been sick. However, she was in a nursing home and in quarantine. No one had seen her for weeks, and that haunts me.

    I know that if I were there, nothing would have changed for anyone but me. Even so, I am the self-proclaimed fixer, cheerleader, and sunshine for my family. I always have been. 

    So in my mind, if I were able to be with gramma, she wouldn’t have been alone. I would have been outside her window, holding signs up, and giving her my sunshine. But I wasn’t, and I couldn’t be there for my family. 

    So yeah, there is some guilt mashed up with grief – a delicious misery cocktail. 

    The Gratitude

    girl sitting on pier-moving away from family

    Guilt and grief are certainly not my overwhelming feelings. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    I have no intention of repatriating to the US. But at times, especially at times like these, I wish we were closer to America. Not gonna lie, I don’t want to be living in the US (especially not in Chicago right now) just closer. 

    Through all of those roller coasters of emotions, the one common underlying thread is that I am really a very happy expat.

    I’m very grateful that Malaysia has kicked Covid’s ass, and Penang has been virus-free for over a month. I’m thankful for the sun that greets me nearly every morning and the ocean breezes that come with it. I am fortunate to have such great new friends here who have become my extended family. 

    Apps like Facetime, Zoom, and WhatsApp help me to stay connected, which is essential. Mom and I text every day, which makes us feel like we aren’t so far apart.

    I’m grateful that Penang has turned out to be a fantastic adopted home for us. 

    I’m also thankful that I wasn’t too scared of moving away from family to follow my dreams. And that I didn’t listen to the naysayers. 

    I have plenty to be grateful for, but no matter how right it feels, sometimes it doesn’t feel right at all. Sometimes it feels pretty wrong.

    Usually, those times are fleeting. I’m not packing my bags for a move.

    Tips for Moving Away from Family

    Honestly, I don’t know how to make moving away from family easier. In the end, you just need to accept it the best you can and ride the waves of guilt when they come. 

    Just because it was our decision to move doesn’t make it easier or less guilt-ridden.

    Will I regret moving away from family? I suspect that at times I will. But those times will be fewer than the times I’m grateful for following my dreams.  

    Final Words About Moving Away From Family

    shadow of man at sunset below the moon

    So how do I handle moving away from family? Some days are better than others. Sometimes I find myself crying for no reason at all, and blaming it on being tired. But truthfully, I think it’s because this feels like a time when we should be with family. But we can’t. 

    Maybe I’m feeling all this because, oh ya know, there is a pandemic and people are dying. Or because the very real racism struggle has boiled over into riots and looting. Or because my city is on fire, my old neighborhood is destroyed, the small businesses that I used to frequent have been looted. And my friends and family are in danger. Or because my gramma died. Or because all of that is happening at once. 

    It’s a lot. I’m pretty raw.

    But here’s the thing, I know in my heart of hearts, moving was good for me. It’s been challenging, adventurous, and all the things I was hoping it would be. It’s pushed me, stretched me, and pushed me some more. It still pushes me, which is why I’m writing this after almost seven years of being here. 

    Thankfully, when the guilt appears; it’s not constant, it comes in waves. 

    And on the other side of those guilt waves is the pure joy that I have from my life in Penang.

    Update: Since writing this post, I’ve gotten so many emails from conflicted people. They are all trying to figure out if moving away will break them. And I get it. After taking a step back from this post, I decided to write a follow-up about coping with the decision to move. Check out How to Move Away from Family and NOT Let the Guilt Kill You.

    I also wrote a Going Away Gift Guide for Gifts that Don’t Suck. You’re already crying, why not give your favorite peeps something that will send them off with a laugh?


    94 thoughts on “Moving Away From Family: Will the Guilt Kill You?”

    1. I left my home country 5 years ago with wife and teenage kids, also for no apparent reason. It was great at the beginning, but now there isn’t a single hour in which I don’t regret it and feel guilty. My mom is old and sick, My kids have also left to different places, and now I’m 51, depressed, my marriage is strained I long to return but it’s hard at this age. Now I tell everyone: don’t go! Family ties are worth a lot.

    2. Hi,
      I’m in a very weird stage of life.
      24 years old. 2 children (4 and 2 yrs old)
      When I was 13 my parents moved us from a beautiful small town in upstate NY to a busy city near Myrtle Beach SC. At the time I wasn’t too bothered. I was young and excited for something new and shiny.
      Now that I’m an adult I am really missing my home town.
      The community is so close knit. They actually experience a winter lol.
      My brother, niece, and my best friend and her children all live up there.
      I just have major guilt leaving my parents. My brother did it and they were so sad.
      For years I was so emotionally dependent on them. I went to their house often because I am just so lonely here. My parents have ended up being some of the few people I see regularly.
      I just truly don’t feel like I am living!
      I am so stuck in the same cycle.
      The only thing holding me back from moving is my husband is not quite ready yet because he also has parents here and he was born and raised here.
      I appreciate this post so much. Because I know it will be hard once I leave. But your words really validated my feelings.

      1. Hi Eva, Thank you for the kind words. It’s not an easy situation to be in. And when the time is right, you and your family will make the best decision for you at the moment. It might hurt, but it’s important to do things for the right reasons. I wish you all the luck, strength, and bravery in the world.

    3. I’m dying to try living in a new country. I’m stuck here because my 79-year-old Mother has no-one else, and my partner won’t come.

      I’m seriously considering going anyway, I’m so sick of putting my dreams on hold for other people. My mother, would like me to wait until she’s dead, but what if that’s not for another 10 years? I’ll be nearly too old myself by then. I can’t wait to do this any longer.

      I’m sick of getting guilt-tripped about this but I know if I go, and something happens, I’ll feel terrible… but also.. I need to go. What do I do?

      1. Hi Despire,
        I’m sorry you are in this situation. It’s not an easy one and I too have been there with my gramma. If you don’t go, you’ll regret it. If you do go, there are things you’ll regret too. It’s a double-edged sword and there is no right answer. At the end of the day, you just have to decide what is best for you. I wish you all the luck,

      2. Another morning of waking up and feeling the heart aches and googling ‘guilty for leaving family’ has led me here. I’m thankful to your blog Kirsten, and all the readers’ comments.

        You’ve been able to capture the seesaw of thoughts and feelings that comes with this sort of decision. It’s been two years that I’ve moved away from family. The emotions have followed a similar pattern to grieving – the instances of guilt and sadness become more infrequent, but the level of feeling remains somewhat intact.

        My story is complicated and I just had a hard time condensing it. I moved away from family that needed help, during the pandemic, to follow better career options and a long distance partner. The takeaway after two years of reflecting on the situation is that there is no right or wrong thing to do, even though people’s judgements (and maybe my own) have insinuated that there is.

        During my teenage years, my dad moved to another country to create a new life and marry the love of his life. I never faulted him for it and instead looked up to him for his bravery and following his heart. I finally had a healthy relationship model to look at and aspire to. For some reason I’m not able to fully support my own actions in the same way. I’ve learnt that this is because I deal with shame. I’ve noticed that most people unconsciously pick up on the shame and have used it as a guide for how to treat me – which is ‘lesser than’. The opinions of these people unfortunately became very loud when I tried to do something for myself, which only exacerbated the shame. I’m lucky to now have people in my life who don’t do that, and instead offer unconditional support. It helps me to focus on the gratitude I have for these people when I have moments of doubt.

        Since leaving, I’ve been working on creating a more solid sense of self. In turn, I’ve found that my relationships have gotten healthier. Maybe that’s why I had to go.

    4. I am in tears reading this. I worked my whole life to get a PhD in engineering from a good school very close to home. Then, thanks to COVID, I was able to stay at home and work remotely for a postdoc at an Ivy-league school.
      I love my family very much and am single.
      The problem is my postdoc is coming to an end. I have been applying to universities in the area, including my alma mater, but if you know anything about academic job searches, it is hard to hard to get a job at a good school (it’s hard to get a job anywhere!). I just got a job offer from a school 5 hours from home. I need to make a decision within two weeks for this school. If I say yes, I will have to move. It is a driveable distance, but I will have to leave my family behind. If I say no, I can potentially wait for an offer from my alma mater (which means I wouldn’t need to leave), but I’m not sure what the chance of that is. Also, if I say no, there’s a chance I will not get the job at the alma mater or any other job in the area – and then I would need to move even further. Also, the other Universities in the area (besides my alma mater) are ranked worse than the one that has given me the job offer.

      I am so torn- this is one of the hardest decisions of my life. It’s not just the move, its the fact that I may not have to move if I get the job at my alma mater, but to even find out if I will, I have to turn down this job.

      I don’t know what to do. I haven’t been able to sleep and I am sick over this.

      1. Hi CT, I’m sorry for the delay in responding, I took some time off to be present with my family since it’s the first time I’ve seen them in 2.5 years, thanks to Covid. It’s not an easy decision you have there. And I realize you might have already made it but in case you haven’t, my advice would be to accept the job. The worst thing that happens is that you aren’t happy and then you move back home. But the best thing that happens is it’s the perfect job of a lifetime and it challenges you to grow by moving away. Plus as you said you are only 5 hours away so you’ll be able to visit frequently. I know its not easy, and believe me, I don’t take moving away from family lightly. But i do believe in regretting the decisions we don’t make and the opportunities we don’t take. This job is a great opportunity for you at a great university. I wish you all the best.


    5. Hey! I just found this at the perfect time, I’m currently going through a very similar situation. I’ll try to make this as shortened as possible but I’m not a writer so here we go. I live in a town and there’s nothing wrong with the town and my mother and brother live here and that’s really the only family I have. I had 2 children and they are in elementary school now but the next set of schools are terrible so we needed to move elsewhere. We looked at surrounding areas to buy or build our forever home and nothing seems right. We started searching the east coast for other options and one just felt right from once we got there and checked everything out. The schools are great there is little to no crime and it’s only 15 min from the beach what else can you ask for. The problem comes in with my family because this place is 3 hours away from them, my brother will be able to visit but my mom not so much maybe a few times a year if that. This has definitely led to them making me feel guilty for moving away from them, I think it’s hard for my mom because she’s alone and also I left in my 20’s for 4 years but returned and now I’m leaving again. The other issue that has started is my mother in law lives 2 hours away and they are trying to make it seem like I’m choosing her family over mine. It’s so hard to feel happy sometimes about something you want to do when you have your family giving you this guilt and it starts to make me question things even though I know it’s the right decision and ultimately be happier there but that doesn’t make it any easier.

      1. Hi Michael, It’s a really difficult situation to be in. And the guilt is really unfair. It’s hard enough moving away without the guilt but the added guilt is just brutal. You know you have to move and do whats right for your children so you are in quite the pickle. Hopefully, you can make regular trips to see your mom every few weeks or so. Being away, no matter how far, isn’t easy but don’t let their guilt sway you into staying since you know it’s not the right thing for your family. It’s going to be hard, but if you can make a concerted effort to call and see them often, it will make it easier for everyone. I wish you all the luck and thank you for opening up here.

    6. I am a mom of three girls, i was a single parent so it was always us four. My oldest is a teacher still lives nearby and my youngest is EMS. My middle girl has a degree in clinical physiology . Although i love all three equally my middle child was also my best friend, less busy than the others. She met a guy online about 3 years ago. Met him once for a week in ny 2 years ago. Over time she started talking about getting a Masters in the UK where he lives. At first i thought it was just an idea, but recently became a reality. I tried to spend as much time possible for two weeks until she left, i cried a little but i would always tell myself “its not today so enjoy our time” i cried at the airport and hugged her twice and off she went. I got home layed in her bed for three days just sobbing. I looked at my other two daughters one getting ready for work the other picking out an outfit to wear to go out with her boyfriend and i wondered what could be missing in my brain that i couldn’t do that, just get up and keep going. My sadness got worse over the days and no one could console me. I’d look at her things she left behind and it just hurt so much more. I had relief when i slept but as soon as i woke up the crying would start, it got so bad I went to the ER. I was never far away from my girls . The UK I could never imagine. Thoughts bouncing back and forth in my head what if she never comes back, maybe she will get homesick, maybe her relationship won’t work. I would look at the clock and just do nothing but calculate the time difference and be hurt when she sent us pictures of cows and buildings. I couldn’t be happy for her I just wanted my baby. Its a big change in life with one of the three far away with a guy I don’t even know. It is a horrible feeling, the ache is unbearable. Everyone told me get over it, you will be fine in a few days but no one understands a mothers love. I’ve never been overbearing, I let them do the things they enjoyed in life, my youngest moved away for 7 years but she was a hour car ride away. Big difference. I miss my daughter terribly and talking to a therapist helps somewhat but doesn’t fully take away the ache. We did everything together since my other two weren’t interested in the same things. The not knowing part is hard and the not being able to hug her is harder. Being a mother is one of the toughest things to be. I just miss my baby, even though she is 28 she will always be my little girl. I hope with time it won’t hurt as much and her not showing she’s homesick, and the pics won’t sting ( i don’t want to see a floor lamp) i just want her back and the reality is I don’t know if she will decide to move back to the states. I’m guilty for not always wanting to be happy for her or resentful for the guy i don’t even know. Its been a rough time already hopefully it gets easier.

      1. Oh Jessica, It’s so difficult to be far from the ones you love. I TOTALLY get it and know what you are going through. You can’t just “get over it” but you will get used to it. It doesn’t make the separation less painful but you will get used to it. It’s always hard and the pain goes in waves but hang in there. I do hope you can find a way to be happy for your daughter if she is happy. As a parent, I am sure you only want the best and all the happiness in the world for your children and at the end of the day you may not like her choices but you certainly don’t really want her to be unhappy. As my mom says, “You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Thank you for being honest and raw and reaching out. Hang in there.

    7. Hi Kirsten,
      Thank you so much for writing this article. I am not a writes so hope this isn’t too rambly. I am in Australia, having moved back here after 7 years of living back in the US. I am American but a dual citizen with an Aussie husband, having lived in Oz in my 30s. You have really helped to capture the feeling of relocation, homesickness and the troubles us expats face. Crazy as my mom also said “why don’t you wait til I die to move back to Australia.” And she is only 74. That was a tough phrase and I am grappling with the guilt!
      Starting again at 48 is harder that I thought. I have always loved travelling and adventure but now I feel so sad being far from my close group of friends and my family. We didn’t mean to move in a pandemic but then sold everything and the ball was already rolling. Like you, it took us 2 years to organise everything to move. Then my dad suddenly passed away 2 weeks after we sold our house. That rocked my world. There was no turning back at that stage, but I had to leave Mom on her own. I feel heaps of guilt too. We wanted our daughter to be starting year 7 here and we thought it would be so much easier to settle in. It has been so tough. My hubby and I have both said that if we know all the hurdles that we would come across, we most likely would have stayed in Colorado.
      So guilt and regret are part of my life. It comes in waves. Sometimes I am coping somewhat well and other times just feeling terribly, sad – the homesickness actually hurts – tummy butterflies – not the good ones.. My husband is better at readjusting and this is returning home for him – so he is coping better. I feel a bit like a broken record telling him again that I am still super homesick – after a year of being here. I will keep reading your posts. They are so inspiring. Thank you! Kat

      1. Hi Kat,
        I’m not sure how I missed this comment. So sorry. In some ways, we’ve left similar situations. And no matter what situation it is, it’s so very difficult. And that’s in the best of times. Clearly, we are in the worst of times right now, which only exacerbates things. It’s been a year of mayhem and abnormality so give yourself some grace. You are entitled to be super homesick. If life was “normal” it would be easier to adjust, start fresh, make new connections etc, but you can’t at the moment. So hang in there and give it time. The guilt may not go away totally but it will get easier with time. The waves will become less frequent. And hindsight is always 20/20 but if you really cant take it, you can always go back to the US.

        Good luck to you and you can always reach out to me here or via a private email if you need a shoulder.
        Take care,

    8. Kirsten, thank you so much for writing this. Crying as I write this. I feel like it was meant for me.

      My dutch girlfriend and I are trying to figure out what to do in the future and where we should live. We haven’t really lived together for a long period yet and going to try first in the Netherlands to see how it goes first. but she has the perfect house, job while I travelled and spent all my money so living with my parents again, and my main source of income at the moment comes from freelancing as an artist which I could do anywhere. And honestly I much prefer the Netherlands to Australia, which is not a place I want to be after covid has revealed some uncomfortable truths.

      My mum is the main thing keeping me here. She and my dad both moved away from their families overseas, and it’s just them, my sister and I here. My mum is struggling being away from her family and has told me how lonely she is sometimes because she misses her family and doesn’t really see friends much any more. When I speak about my girlfriend and moving away potentially, she gets defensive and talks about money and logistics, but in reality she’s just terrified I will leave. The guilt of potentially leaving her here is gut-wrenching. I have even entertained the idea of breaking up with my girlfriend just to make it easier, but of course that won’t be.

      There of course is the possibility that we could live here, or even New Zealand of which I am also a citizen. NZ is kind of like the Holland of the south. But us being together and continuing to do so, means that perhaps one day I will need to make the decision.

      Honestly just imagining my mum and dad here alone (although my sister is here but they fight a lot), just destroys me every day and I can’t function when I think about it. I know if I move away the amount of times I will see them for the rest of my life is significantly reduced and I’m struggling with death and trying to appreciate the time I have with my family more, so it seems counter-intuitive.

      Anyway, thank you again. I felt more positive after reading this. Although I’m still terrified.

      1. Hello Aaron,
        So sorry for the delay. I took a little time off and I’m just getting back to things. You are in a tough position. It’s never easy to leave but the hardest part is always before you get on that plane. It’s far worse emotionally when you are planning to leave than when you actually take the first step and start a new life elsewhere. You can’t live your life for others or lead by guilt. Yes, it will be hard, and possibly heartbreaking at times. But will you regret NOT doing it in the long run? Probably.

        Nothing is written in stone. You can go to the Netherlands and see how you feel for a year, then make a decision. But if you don’t follow your dreams you will be unhappy and you might even blame your mom for it. Don’t look at like a move for the rest of your life. You may hate living there. Just look at it as a test for a year so see how you manage. If it doesn’t work, you can go home. If you are happy as a clam, then your mom will see that. Afterall, parents just want their kids to be happy.

        I hope that helps a bit. Good luck,

    9. Kristen, you are amazing! I’m planning my move to Malaysia as well and the guilt. I come from a very conservative family, where leaving family consider ungrateful.
      It’s a surprise i found your post.. you gave me the answers.
      I feel you so much, i broke down while reading…

      Leaving has never been easy, no matter how many times.

      So glad i found you here!

      1. Hi Jane! I’m so glad you are here! It’s so difficult to move away especially without the support of your family. The months up until you leave are the hardest. But once you actually get on that plane it feels like a weight has been lifted. Not because it’s easy but because it’s forward motion to the next stage.

        Where and when will you be moving?
        I wish you all the luck and keep in touch!

    10. Dear Kirsten,

      I have just recently found your wonderful blog and your article “Moving away from your family” just resonated with me so much! Thank you for your wonderful and true words…I have been feeling the same kind of guilt for quite some time – whilst I have not made up my mind about moving abroad to be with the love of my life (he was my first boyfriend when I was 15, we met again three years ago) I can alread feel the GUILT towards family and friends (and that is the reason this decision is SO difficult).

      My parents migrated to Germany when they were in their 30s, leaving family and friends behind themselves – looking for a better life.

      Now I find myself at those crossroads myself. I have met the love of my life again after nearly 30 years of not being in touch – only to find him living on the other side of the planet (US) – while I live in Europe. He has younger children in the US and does not want to leave them there, which is fully understandable of course. I have my family, my loved ones, my friends and a good job here and my parents are elderly and sick…just thinking about leaving everything behind is really tough for me!

      My mom is ALL about the guilt trip (“the family breaks apart”), she makes us feel guilty about not visiting every weekend etc. sometimes I feel like I am living someone else’s life truly!

      But just like you said in your wonderful article – it is MY LIFE and I have to decide what to do with the time that is given to ME – my parents lived their life as they wanted to and I feel like now I deserve to do the same – no matter what anyone thinks or says.

      I could imagine going to the US to be with my boyfriend at least for a while – maybe for a few years and then come back to Europe, he wants to return to Europe someday, as well……BUT my father is very sick so that makes decisions just so very hard. I have a sister and a brother who I know would be there for my parents if they needed anything…still I feel guilt towards them as well. Oh boy…

      I just wanted to share my story and thank you again for your kind and true words – they helped me so much and knowing that I am not alone with these kind of difficult decisions.
      Love, K

      1. Hi Kristina,
        I’m so happy you found me! Thank you for sharing your story. So many people read the comments and feel like there is a community of people going through this, and they aren’t alone.

        You are going through so much! I feel for you!

        It’s brutal to be at war with your head and your heart. And having to make the decision is painful.

        Have you asked your mom how her family handled it when she decided to move? Maybe that will give you a connection to talk about it all, without the guilt. Or maybe you’ll find out exactly why she is giving you all the guilt.

        I wish you all the luck and feel free to reach out here or privately to me anytime.

    11. Reading this having just flown home to the UK after 7 months with my parents and younger brother/nieces/nephew in NZ. Which was wonderful. Am in the opposite situation in that they all chose to move away and I have been visiting them several times/ year for the last decade… yet feel absolutely crippled by the guilt of not staying there (even though was never my choice in the first place). My parents are incredibly supportive, and we’re a close family utilising Skype and WhatsApp groups constantly, I have fantastic relationships with all 3 of my ‘Niblings’. Still, seeing my mum in tears at the airport after a prolonged visit came to an end… it’s so hard. But you’re right, we cannot live our lives for other people…

    12. Hi Kirsten,

      Beautiful writing, to which I relate to on so many levels. I really needed this right now.

      I am currently thinking to move back to the US, but the thought of leaving my mom raising my little brother on her own in the UK haunts me. I haven’t seen my little brother in over 2 years as he’s just coming to the UK, and leaving him months after his arrival would make him very sad too.

      There’s my stepdad, but their short marriage is not going too great atm, which makes me feel even worse as she doesn’t really have friends apart from me, and works all the time. She also depends on me to do most of the administrative bits and bobs of life (send emails, call phone companies or the bank, order stuff etc) and has mentioned she would not like me to move away right now or in the very near future, but wouldn’t stop me either way.

      Overall I just feel extremely guilty which is how I found myself still writing this at 2AM overthinking about it, and I just don’t know what to do… Like you, I am the fixer of everything in my little family, when I had previously left the US and my older brother to join my mom, the sadness on his face as pulled over to his workplace to say bye, absolutely shattered my heart. And now it feels like I’m doing it all over again with my mom. It is just heartbreaking! xx

      1. Hi Aaliyah,
        I feel for you. You are in a tough spot. It’s so hard to be the fixer but when the fixer leaves, everyone else seems to keep on living. I was only the fixer because I made it that way. I learned that my family did just fine without me. They moved forward, found ways to do all the things they relied on me for, and actually got stronger for it. It is heartbreaking but you have to make yourself happy because living for other people’s happiness backfires in the long run. I just wrote part 2 to this blog about coping with guilt, maybe it will help put a different perspective on things…
        I wish you the best of luck. Reach out any time.

    13. I sit here as a mom and new grandma as my daughter is looking to move away. Your words popp3d up as I can’t sleep for thoughts of missing her, even though she hasn’t even left, haunt me and keep me awake. Circumstances are different, but all I feel ia for your Mom and the pain, loss, and grief she must feel.

      Sorry for your Grandma, she sounds like a wonderful person who lived a full life. You too, you are living your dream. Guess one selfless act of a mother can allow a selfish act of a daughter and the feeling ofabandonment. Sorry, that may be harsh, but from the other side, it is hard to be selfless but as q mom, you do it. As a grandma, you hurt even more. Not being there for your Mom and family is selfish to me, but that is coming from a mom who selfishly doesn’t want to miss seeing her daughter and being there for the little moments with the grandchildren. That is what life has been for me. Hard no matter what and for the entire family. The grief is hard. My condolences to your family and you made me cry! Nice writing!

      1. Hi Lori,
        I am sorry that you are struggling to cope with your daughter’s move. I can tell you are hurting and I can appreciate your point of view.

        Let me offer you another perspective…
        Your daughter’s life is just that. Her dreams are her dreams, not yours. It may be selfish to you, but she needs to follow her path, not the one you deem is the right path.

        When we use words like selfish and selfless we get caught in trap of being a judge and none of us are qualified to judge one another. It’s a massive decision to leave, and never taken lightly by anyone. It’s heartbreaking all around.

        I don’t think a parent is being selfless by calling their child selfish for moving away. Sometimes it’s selfish of parents to stop their kids from living tier dreams. Do you raise your children in hopes that they never leave your side to make your life better? Or do you raise your kids to follow their dreams?

        I may not be physically next to my mom but I can ASSURE you that I am there for her in every way. More than most. Including those that are in the same town.

        Feel for you. I know you are hurting. And I am certain your daughter is too. It all comes from a place of big love for each other.

        I wish you luck going forward. It’s an emotional roller coaster, so hold on tight.

    14. Hi,

      So I was searching for moving away from family and this popped up. I’m sorry you have had such a hard time!

      I have a partner who lives in America and we’ve been together for 5 years and made several trips back and forth but the distance doesn’t get any easier or saying goodbye.

      So we have both been discussing about me moving to America and well I grew up on a tiny island in the middle of the UK and it’s all I’ve known and I’m very close with my family always have been the family sunshine as you described.

      I’m just so scared of what I’ll miss like my little brother growing up and other life events.

      1. Hi Shannon,
        It’s not an easy decision to move away from family. And you will miss things and special events. You have to weigh the options. It sounds silly but make a pros and cons of moving list. Think about what your life will look like in another 5 years if you move, and if you don’t move. Maybe that will help guide you.

        But remember, if you decide to move, it doesn’t have to be forever. You can move and see how you feel after a year or so. You can always move back. Your island will still be there 😁.

        I hope that helps,

    15. I’m sorry about your grandma.

      I googled something about moving away from family and your site came up.

      We are temporarily living in Hawaii, and our home is in Maryland. My husband and I would move here in a heartbeat with our kids but I know it will break my poor mom’s heart to be that far from her grandbabies. Not sure what to do… the guilt would be awful on my side.

      1. Hi Allison,

        Thank you.

        It’s such a tough situation. Doing something that makes you and your family happy vs not doing something to make your mom happy. At the end of the day, you’ll have to make a choice like I did. ANd it’s hard. And heartbreaking. But I’m just as with my family now as I was before. I text with my mom daily and facetime once a week.

        One thing I’ve learned is to stop doing (or not doing) things out of guilt. Making decisions based on guilt is a bad plan in the long run for me. I know what you are going through. It’s brutal making that decision – either way.

        Have you ever discussed it with your mom?

    16. Hello and thank you for writing this. I have not picked up and moved yet but my husband and I are very close. We just cannot stay in NYC any longer. At 32 yrs old it has turned us into 72 yr olds. My main regret will be not raising my 2 yr old daughter close to her aunts that love her very much. They get angry and snap at me even at the smallest mention of us moving anywhere remotely far from them. I just have to do whats best and Manhattan is not it.

      1. Hi Rocio,
        It’s hard when family doesn’t support your move. But I’m sure it’s just because they want you and your family to remain close. You moving away is also scary for your loved ones who stay put. Hang in there, but you are right to put yourself, your hubs, and your daughters needs first.

    17. Hey Kirsten,

      I really need to read this !! Last year I moved to NY for a little over a year ago to live with my dad and I really enjoyed my time there ! But I moved back to Atl because my mom started a business and asked for my help as well as my sister becoming pregnant and since we’re so close I just felt like I needed to be around. But now it’s 4 months since I’ve moved back and I’m ready to move back to NY !! I’m super nervous about telling my mom and family that I will be leaving again especially when they made me feel so bad about leaving the first time . I don’t want to make my mom feel like her needing my assistance isn’t important to me but I am 21 and I want to follow MY Dreams and i just don’t see myself doing that with her 🙁

      1. Hi Kiyah,
        Thanks for reaching out. You are in a tough spot. It’s hard, especially when your parents are in either location that you are choosing from. I am sure there is guilt leaving one to be with the other. But you need to be honest with her and yourself. Maybe you can stick around a little longer help your mom get the biz off the ground then go back. Doesn’t every mom want their kids to be happy and follow their dreams? You only have one life to live.
        Good luck!

    18. Hi Kirsten,

      This hit me so hard. I moved the other way around – from Asia to America. And I’ve been wracked with guilt and anxiety about not being around as my parents grow older (they’re elders already). Your suggestion to ride the guilt is comforting, as is reading about others who are in the same boat as me. We’re here, and being away kicks our ass sometimes but we’re still doing it. And it doesn’t mean we love our family any less.

      1. Hi S,
        I love your statement, “being away kicks our ass sometimes but we’re still doing it. And it doesn’t mean we love our family any less.” You summed it all up in 2 sentences (clearly I am much more long-winded than you 😉)!!
        It’s hard, it hurts, but that is the life we have chosen.
        You are not alone! Glad you found me!

    19. Hi Kirsten,

      Thank you for writing this! I found it so relatable. The guilt, especially now during the pandemic, is horrible. I am an expat living in London for 3 years now, and it kills me that I can’t go home right now and haven’t seen my parents in almost a year. I plan to return but the catch is… I’ve met someone (my fiance) who will come home WITH me. Which adds to my pain because I know he will miss his family once he moves. But he is adamant he wants to move with me to America.

      The choices we make! Despite it all, I don’t regret moving and I love it here. Being an expat is hard but we have to do what we feel is right for ourselves and our futures.

      Best wishes to you,


      1. Hi Sonia,

        I’m glad to know this resonated with you but sad that you are in the same boat as me. Haven’t seen our families since June of 2019 and it so difficult.

        But how wonderful that your fiance wants to move to America with you! Of course, it will be hard for him, but nothing is written in stone. You guys get to choose where you want to live and how you want this game of life to work out so, bravo for taking the steps you need to do what feels right.

        I wish you all the luck!
        Be safe,

    20. Hi Kirsten!

      I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your article. This year has definitely been a tough one and I feel like has brought the self-reflection back more than others. This holiday I did make the trip to see my family as my grandparents are getting older (I am taking what precautions I have with the virus).

      Visiting my hometown and childhood home has always been such a struggle for me. Such a bag of emotions. I love my parents, but there is almost always a bit of sadness in the air. My mother is never quite happy with my decisions and feels like my new partner is just going to continue to pull me further away from her. What I’ve tried explaining is that I WANT to live a life where I am moving to new locations; it’s not him–it’s me. I want to live life to its fullest and experience all that I can. I have someone in my life who shares the same desires.

      I am trying to put myself in her shoes and realize that it makes her sad because she loves me and just wants to see me more, but I also know that it would be the death my soul to live near the area I grew up. I just can’t. I have no regrets about exploring, moving, traveling, and soaking up all there is in life.

      Anyhow, thanks again for your words and for sharing.


      1. Hi Kirsten,

        Sorry for the long delay. I’ve taken some time off during this holiday season.

        I agree, the self-reflection this year has been over the top. Moving away is never easy. And pretty much every time I visit, it is totally heartbreaking. My grandma blamed Mark for taking me away regardless of me telling her otherwise. I think it’s easier for them to rationalize us moving that way. Your mom will always want you near, but you have to live a fulfilling life now so keep following your dreams. You only have one life to live, there are no do-overs, so make it amazing!

        Stay well,

    21. Hi Kristen

      Very nice blog. I can relate as I am in the same boat right now.
      I am the only child and my parents are heart patients. It has been 4 years since I have started working and I have still not been able to move back home as there are almost 0 job opportunities in my hometown.

      Covid lockdown gave an opportunity to people like me to spend some time with the fam but now I have been called up to re join the office next week. Even though WFH is going very good for the employer but they called some of the people back to office.

      It is very hard to make up my mind as leaving parents behind is very painful “everytime”.

      1. Hi Himanshu,

        Thank you for being here. I am sorry you are in such a difficult situation. I hope you can convince your employer to let you work from home if that is what you’d like to do. I am glad you were able to spend the last few months with them. I wish you the best of luck in these difficult times. Hang in there!

        1. Hi thank you for sharing. My situation is a bit different but the same sad feeling. My husband and I have 5 children whom we’ve raised in a house we lived in for 20. When I think of the house, I think of my family unit. Well all our children have grown, the youngest is 18 and moving away to college next month s as nd the rest are living on their own except one who srpersted from his baby mom but lives in the house with his new girlfriend and my granddaughter. . The time has come to consider selling the house and downsize to a motor home. A property in the countryside, easier said, Long story short, we’ve got a motor home, land, snd now reading to close on the house and unexpectedly when I think of our house, I started crying because I’m seeing my family unit ripped apart and it’s in part our children thinks we abandoned them and I can’t help but to feel the same? Guilt? I don’t know but I see myself arguing with husband slot because he doesn’t seem yo feel the same and in part that this is more of his dream than mine so resentment started to form.. I definitely don’t need that. So in my case is it time to let go and what we are doing is ok and not selfish?

          1. Hello Savon,

            Sorry for the delay. I was taking some time off.

            I think it is normal to feel sad about closing any chapter of our lives. But I don’t understand how you are ripping the family unit apart. They have all gone. You guys are alone in the home so downsizing to your motorhome makes sense. Especially if you want to travel. Your kids are adults and maybe they don’t understand your choices but they are your choices. You are allowed to live your life without feeling guilty or selfish. And you are not being selfish for choosing the right path for yourself.

            Take care and stay strong.

    22. Hey, Kirsten!
      I really felt your blog. I might be moving outside Mexico next year. I been leaving in Montreal for the last 3 years and came back due the pandemic for the last 7 months.

      I live with my mum and my grandma too. My grandma has been like my 2nd mum since I was very little and now I take care of her. But everytime I leave it feels more and more difficult, especially after this weird times.

      Of course I know there is people who have been through the same situations, but I do feel better reading about your experience. Makes me feel I’m not alone.

      Thank you.

      1. Hi Carlitos,

        Thank you for being here! I’m so glad you found me. You are def not alone. No matter how many years away, and how many times I’ve moved, leaving is THE WORST. I am super close with my family too so that makes it so much harder. But at the end of the day, it is your life to live and shouldn’t be driven by guilt. If you move away again, I know it is a hard road to choose, but hopefully, the benefits outweigh the sadness.

        Either way, I’m here for you. Reach out any time!

    23. With a heavy heart I google “how to handle the guilt of living far from family” and this blog post popped up. I’m glad it did and you are right, you are not alone. My very short story is similar to yours in many ways, unhappy with our careers in the UK, the commuting into London everyday, the unsociable hours of our TV jobs we decided to try living overseas for a year and moved to British Columbia in 2018 when we were both 38. BUT! As soon as it had been arranged and set for launch, my Mum fell at home and ended up in hospital – out trip was delayed for six months. In that six months, my 83 year old dad had a heart attack and my Mum was diagnosed with dementia and moved into a nursing home. But we had sacked in our UK jobs and had new ones lined up, so off we went. Which sounds so callous, doesn’t it. I made sure both my parents were well looked after and I was travelling back several times each year to help keep them safe and well. Then… PANDEMIC! That I can’t hop on a plane to see my folks is a big source of anguish. That even if I went back, I wouldn’t be able to visit her in the home and that I might put my Dad at risk if I visited him… I don’t know what the solutions are. This is not the world it was in many ways and the UK just isn’t my home anymore. Thanks for sharing your story!

      1. Oh Elly, I feel for you! I’m so glad you found me!

        There is no good time to go. If we had waited for the right time, we would never have moved. It feels awful when the timing isn’t perfect for other people but at the same time, it was right for you (and us). A lot of my expat friends said, “You made the best decision for you and at some point, you have to choose yourself over everyone else.” It’s a hard truth but a smart one none the less.

        Covid has created a whole different set of rules and emotions around expat life. America doesn’t feel like my home, but I still want to visit, which is impossible right now. And losing my gramma when I was supposed to be there, but couldn’t be, makes it harder. Hang in there and reach out at any time. I’m here for you!


      2. Your situation is almost a mirror image of my life right now. We are moving to Malaysia at the end of the year. My gran died 3 months ago and my mom is battling to cope with her death. My mom had a pacemaker operation 1 month ago and it’s the last thing we needed at such a sad time already. It feels like blow after blow. Now I’m leaving in 3 months with my sons who my mom is very CB lise with. I’m riddled with guilt, it seeks as if we’re all disappearing from her life and I’m worried how she’ll cope with all of us gone. She’s happy for us, that we gave a new adventure on the horizon but the price she’ll have to pay is high. I’m so incredibly sad, but it’s not an opportunity I can pass up on. It’s a once in a life time opportunity.

        1. Hi Romina,
          I am excited to hear that you are moving here but I know the agony you are going through. The duality of being excited and so sad at the same time is so hard to deal with. It almost broke me. Thankfully, she is happy for you. The next few months are going to be hard, but once you get here, you will be busy sorting out your life and your mom will be too. She will get even stronger and adjust to this new life as well.

          Make sure you set up a system to talk to your mom as frequently as you can. I FORCED my mon (kicking and screaming) to get a smartphone so we could talk and text as often as we wanted. I text her every night before I go to bed, just to say hi and send love. I think knowing that we had the ability to communicate easily made it better for us.

          If you need anything in the next few months, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can even chat if you want. Just send me an email at [email protected] as we will set something up.

          If not, please reach out when you get here so we can meet for a coffee, or whatever! I’m here to help!


      3. Stephanie Kay Shockley

        I wouldn’t feel guilt. If money wasn’t an issue I’d already be far away from my family. They’re all mean and hateful to me. And none of them really care about me. I’d like to leave and go somewhere, where I never have to see any of them again.

        1. If they really hate you, they would want you to move away from them. Maybe you should ask them for money to book a flight away from them.

    24. Hi there,
      We are considering a move from South Dakota to Texas. Not the 26 hours by plane you have, but my family was DEVESTATED when we moved 4 hours away (by car!). How did you bring up your move to your family?

      1. Hi Laurie,
        I really don’t think it matters if you move a city away or a world away. Away is away. And it is hard. I had been talking about moving away for a decade before we did it. So they weren’t THAT surprised when we actually told them. They were, however, surprised that it was going to be Malaysia, instead of Costa Rica. We just ripped off that band-aid and told them flat out, but we didn’t tell my gramma right away which wasn’t fair. I would do it differently now, but hindsight is 20/20.

        Since you are already away, another move won’t be as devastating. But it is never easy.

        1. Thank you for sharing how you feel…

          I’m Brazilian and have been living in Italy for over 7 years now. Everytime I go back to my parents place I ask myself why did I leave them in the first place. I’ve created a life for my own in Milan, with love, career and everything else I could ask for. I know they are happy and proud of me, but leaving them is so hard…

          1. Hi Mariana,
            Leaving is so hard. Every.Damn.Time! But you can’t ignore your happy life in Italy. And you certainly shouldn’t move back to Brazil unless you are ready to make that move for the right reasons. Part of my heart hurts since I can’t be near my family, but a very large part of my heart is happy with the life I have chosen.
            I’m with you, Mariana.

      2. Hi Kirsten,

        Thanks so much for sharing. I really needed to read this today and don’t feel as alone in how I am feeling.

        A year ago I moved to Australia from the UK, and over the past 6 months have had so much guilt for leaving family. Having just bought a home here with my Australian partner the reality of living so far away is officially sinking in. I know I wasn’t happy with my life in the UK,, and I am so happy here but I often think is it worth the hole I feel in my heart from being away from my family? They are so supportive about my move here, however I know they are so sad I am gone.

        With the pandemic hitting and not being able to leave the country at all, I think it’s heightened my emotions. I never planned to go over a year without visiting or seeing them, and now I have no idea when I will see them again.

        I know it won’t get easier, and I just need to think of the amazing life I have here, and will have in the future and do my best to copy and live with it.

        Wishing you the best.

        Kayla xx

        1. Hi Kayla,
          Sorry for the slow reply, I’ve taken some time off.

          I’m so glad you found my blog. I think this year has been extra strenuous for people who can’t get back to visit family. It’s left all of our nerves so very raw. I’m feeling trapped, well, because I am. So I totally understand how you are feeling and what you are going through. You are not alone in this. However, it will get easier. No matter what happens with covid. You are still in the early stages of expat life. You’ve settled into the new reality of what it all means to be living in AU. Give yourself some time, you will have all the emotions even after living there for years. It is normal. I wrote a post about the stages of expat life that I think might be a good read for you, check it out

          Take care of you and feel free to reach out again at any time.
          Stay well,

    25. This is an amazing read! Thank you. It feels like you wrote down exactly how I feel. I get these feelings of sadness more often, maybe Covid makes us realize more how far away we are from loved ones. The crazy thing is, My family and I have been living in Ipoh for a little longer than a year and then I read you live in Penang! We live Penang:) maybe we can meet in person one day😀👍

      1. Thank you, Annalien! I do think Covid plays a part in feeling so separated from loved ones. It’s one thing to know we’ve moved across the world. It’s another to find out you are not allowed to go back for a visit.

        I would love to meet up in person one day. Keep me posted on your travels here and I’ll do the same. What are you doing in Ipoh?

    26. Thanks for this post! I moved to the Netherlands from Canada two weeks ago to live with my love. I’ll be starting a new career path with university starting in September. The guilt of leaving my family has been the biggest weight on my mind, as the pandemic has shown that there are times when we will not be able to travel and be there for the people we love physically. I’m sorry for the loss of your grandmother. My grandmother passed away in May and it was quite sudden, although she was 87 years old. I am still quite uncertain about my decision and questioning everything, but my partner and I have created the first three months as discovery and adventure, letting go of the significant question that was plaguing me at every moment-was this the right decision, do I really want this? We will see in the future months…

      1. Hi Anna,
        Thank you for reading and for your support.

        Moving away is heart-wrenching at times but you have to think about what makes you the happiest. It is smart to give it some time and see how it goes. I’ve been away for 7 years and at times it’s extremely difficult. But I know that I did the right thing for me. The pros outweigh the cons for me, but take your time and feel all the feels.

        You will get through the toughest part and see how you feel after you settle in a bit.

        Good luck to you and reach out if you need an ear.

        1. Thanks for your response Kirsten! I wondered if I should wait it out a few months and see how it is after I start school and build some connections, or the way I feel is strong enough to pack up already and go! I appreciate the advice.

          1. Hi Anna,

            I would def wait. Even three months might not be enough to tell, but you’ll have to wait and see. Give yourself time to get into a routine, and settle a bit. Be patient. Like I said, after 7 years I still have moments of heartache. If I listened to them all, I’d have left 7 years ago.

            Hang in there,

            1. Im 19 and plan on moving away in august. ive lived in Ohio all of my life but ive always wanted to live in California. i had been telling my family i was going to move for months and when i talked to my sister in law about it today she seemed confused and sad (i dont think anyone took me seriously about leaving because im young)
              i know in my heart that i need to move for my own mental well-being (i hate small towns and crave more to life than shitty bars) i feel so guilty about moving however because for the past 15 months i have been a nanny for my nephew. and i have a 3yr old niece and another nephew on the way. my family is super close and knowing i wont be there for birthdays and stuff makes me so sad
              im worried my niece and nephews wont remember me when i leave

              1. Hi Soph,
                You def need to follow your dreams.

                Sadly, sometimes those decisions are hard to swallow for the people we love.

                Your nephews and nieces won’t forget you if you make the effort to stay in touch. Facetime/zoom is the best thing for keeping in touch with loved ones. Nothing beats actually being together in person, but that’s the next best thing. Make those calls a priority and they won’t forget you.

                Good luck to you.

    27. Wow reading this was like someone walking me through my own thoughts.

      I moved away for 5 years for college and then came home, a year later moved to the Philippines for 8 months and travels the world before coming home. I’ve been home for less than a year now and I’m ready for the next thing. Ready to not live in my parents home.

      In one week I turn 25 so I made the choice to move in with my college best friend in beautiful apartment. The catch? It’s in Arizona, and I am a born and raised Californian.

      Once my family moved from the south to Cali During the Great Depression no one ever left the family or our area. Generations all live with in a 45 min drive of each other and my imaginary family of about 40 people, get together all the time and are heavily involved in each other’s lives.

      But I moved. I left. And I’m leaving again.

      I can’t help but feel terrible. My grandma and I are best friends, she practically raised me. And leaving her makes my heart break. Especially seeing her cry about it between blights of being so supportive of me moving.

      This really helped me clear my mind of the guilt I am feeling today. Hopefully it will pull me through my move in 2 months and through some of it on the other end.


      1. 😂 the typos I apologies I sent this on my phone. That’s suppose to be my immediate family not imaginary 😂 I can’t stop laughing

      2. Hi Holly! You can have an imaginary family! I won’t judge! Hahhaha!

        But seriously, moving is hard. At times it will be heartbreaking. But hopefully, the positive aspects of the move outweigh those emotions. When it gets tough, call, video-chat whatever you can. You will be in the same time zone, in the same country and only a flight away.

        You got this!

    28. Wow, I really needed this right now. Thank you so much. We’ve lived in Washington state for 10 years, moving from the Midwest right after college. I know it’s not as far away as you are, but the pain and guilt are no less burdensome, especially now with Covid.

      We thought about moving closer before all of this happened, but now we’re just thankful to have jobs and don’t want to abandon them with so much uncertainty for the future. We also aren’t having children and absolutely love it here, so we figured we’d just travel home more often when that is safer to do. We’re now hoping to move to a nearby smaller town out here because city life is wearing on us, but I’m suddenly overcome with guilt for being so far away as our parents age. I feel less guilty about being away from siblings, but I think the realization that our parents are not able to really travel right now despite being relatively healthy for their age (and who knows where this pandemic will take us) is the primary source for my anguish.

      I’m also so sorry for the loss of your grandma. She sounds a bit like mine.

      1. Hi Mallory,

        I’m so glad you found this blog at the right time.

        It really doesn’t matter if you are 3 hours or 30 hours away from family. Away is away. And now with all this mayhem, home and family feels even further.

        In my opinion, the best thing do is not to make any huge decisions (like moving back) during this time. There is too much uncertainty and you are so happy in Washington.

        The biggest challenge I’ve had is not letting guilt rule my decisions. It’s something I struggle with a lot but have to temper it. If I let guilt win, I’m moving back to the US and into a lifestyle I don’t want. And then when do you put yourself first?

        It seems like you’ll have a good balance when traveling is easier, so at least you can get home and spend time with your parents. Balance is everything!

        Take care,

    29. This one hit home for obvious reasons and I am so grateful to you for writing it. My own parents immigrated to America and my mother’s mother never let her forget just how far away she went. Because of that, my mom has promised us that we can go as far as we want to without fear of any guilt-tripping (a promise she may regret making now!). That being said, I know I won’t escape that raw feeling every now and again. Glad to know I’m in good company.

      1. Hi Emelie, It’s never easy to move away. It must have been worse when long-distance communication wasn’t so available. You’ll have your moments, but remember, when you do get time together, it will be quality time. Even better than before you left because you’ll know how precious each moment is.

        1. Hi Kristen,

          Thank you so much for sharing this. My fiance and I want to move from the S.E of the UK to the NE. We both think ours lives can be better both work wise and just generally in having a better way of life. Thing is my family (who live nearly currently) do not support it and think we are moving for all of the wrong reasons which I dont agree with. It makes this move so much harder to make and we’ve been delaying it purely to keep them happy. The sense of guilt I have right now is just tearing me apart but I know this move is right for us.

          1. Hi Kate,
            I am sorry you are going through that. It’s a brutal situation, especially when you don’t have the support of your loved ones. At the end of the day, only you know what is truly best for you. And if you go and it doesn’t work out, you can move back. Nothing is written in stone. But if you don’t go because of someone else, you’ll always wonder what could have been and probably start to resent your family.

            I just wrote a follow-up post about coping with the guilt that might help soothe your soul a bit.
            Stay strong, Kate. And good luck.

    30. Thanks for writing this. I feel guilty even thinking about moving and my mother is in the other room as I write this. She supports our decision, as your awesome mother did, because in the end it’s our own lives, after all. And my own mother moved away from her own parents and siblings to bring us to America, back when international calls were expensive and unreliable. So even though she’s sad, she understands, and is eager to visit so she can see more of the world.

      1. Hi S,

        I really think the guilt is inevitable. However, it is so lovely to have your mom’s support. It really makes a difference.

        My mom so looks forward to coming here and exploring our world, I am sure your mom will too.


    31. Hi sweetheart, it was a wonderfully truthful article. And I know how hard it was for you to write. I know the guilt you feel, because I feel it too. So many times I wanted to tell you know please don’t leave, but that would be so selfish of me. I miss you more than words can say every day but knowing that you are living your true life makes me happy. Do I cry you bet but more and more they are happy tears. I’m glad for our texts and frequent talks because that always helps me get through the days ahead. I count the days until I will see you again. I know if I told you not to feel guilty those would be worth wasted words. Just be happy because that’s what I want for you. You have been my rock my soulmate and my everything and I have put me back together on more than one occasion. And for that I am able to stand on my own 2 feet. So cry when you need to but also remember to laugh because you have a wonderful life and no matter how far we are apart we will always be there for each other. I love you so much. Hope to see you soon!! Oh that you’ve put me back together and more than one occasion. Thank you thank you thank you

      1. Hey Kirsten

        Well written. After living away from home for 18 years, I thought I was a ‘old pro’ when it comes to coping with the range of emotions. But yes, Covid 19 threw me ‘curve ball’ when my sister died in April and like you I could not return home, I am solo and in lockdown, battling with grief and guilt was confronting and hard.

        I agree, that Malaysia has done a remarkable job to reduce the infections and take care of people.

          1. No if I go home cannot get back in. I am moving up to Ipoh to start a new project in July so I expect it will be some time before I get back home.

            1. Oh, that really sucks. I know they are letting the MM2H’s in and they only have self-quarantine, so hopefully, that will change for you soon.

              Good luck in Ipoh, it’s a big change from KL but a very cute town!