5 Common Things People Will Say When You Tell Them You Are Emigrating – And How To Respond

common things people will say when you migrate

I realised early on in our migration process that there were several ways people will react when you tell them you are emigrating. Some surprised me and I started thinking about why. I guess I had preconceived ideas about who would support us, who would think we are crazy, who would be happy for us and who would be sad, upset or indifferent. And when people reacted differently to what I expected, I was caught off guard.


So for everyone who is about to start telling people you are emigrating, here are some of the most common reactions you will get and how you should respond.

  1. “You’re So Brave!”

This one is pretty common I must say. People must think you are some sort of superhero – like packing up and moving away is akin to being Batman. It’s not about bravery at all but people don’t realise that. People just sometimes have no idea why you would want to pack up and start afresh in a completely new country and think it’s just some fanciful idea you are trying out! You could always just brush it off and explain why you are going (better opportunities, safer environment, laid back lifestyle, whatever your driving factors are), as chances are these people are genuinely interested in what you are up to.


  1. “You Know The Grass Isn’t Always Greener…”

Aah, my favourite kind of person…the one who wished with all their might that they were the ones heading off into the sunset and starting their lives anew…but alas, it’s you doing it and not them, and so the only way they can cope is to try and rain on your parade. All I can say is, don’t let them! Smile and nod, acknowledge you have a hard road ahead but you are prepared for anything the world might throw at you. Then change the subject.


  1. “I would have emigrated but…”

These people fall into two camps, first are those who genuinely wanted to emigrate or missed their shot at emigrating. And second are those who like to talk the talk but would never even entertain the idea of walking the walk. You will know exactly which one they fall under and so for the ones who are actually sad they missed out but happy for you, you can always offer them a place to stay if they ever want to visit (or volunteer to show them round if they aren’t the kind of friend you would have to stay!). For the ones who like to talk the talk, again, best thing to do is smile and nod, or chuck in a cheeky ‘Oh really? What stopped you then?’ if you are feeling brave!


  1. “What??? Really???”

So you’ve managed to shock them as they had no idea you had this card up your sleeve! Or they aren’t very close to you so wouldn’t have any idea what you were up to in the first place. Either way, if they hadn’t got an inkling, they probably aren’t the most important people in your life. Or perhaps these are the people you were the most worried about telling. If you care about them and how they feel, explain your decision and why you are doing it and brace yourselves. If you aren’t bothered about what they think, revert to the standard smile and nod.


  1. “Wow! Go For It!”

My favourite kind of person – one who doesn’t judge, doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t think about themselves or their own feelings first. This is someone who truly loves you and wants you to do the best thing for you and your family and just be happy, wherever you are in the world and no matter if it’s a million miles away from them. Of course it’s also highly likely that these people are going to be the ones who are cry the most when you actually get on that plane and the ones who will miss you the most when you have gone. But they will also be the ones who can be bothered to keep in touch with you, who will remember your birthday without seeing it on Facebook notifications, who will pick up the phone to call you just to say hi no matter the cost and who will probably make a plan to visit you as soon as is humanly possible! Hug these people, and never let them go.


What kind of reactions have you gotten when telling people you are emigrating? I would love to hear your experiences.


Also take a look at my post that looks at 5 signs you are ready to migrate and see how many you can relate to.

About Author

Helping you move to, settle in, and explore your new home in Australia. Avid reader, beach lover, and horse addict. As someone who has emigrated, not once, not twice, but three times, I know exactly what you’re going through. The ups and downs of emigration are faster than a rollercoaster and I’ve been there – three times!


  • Gareth
    23rd November 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Very good tips ! There are also those people who seem to know everything bad about the country you are moving to even though they have never been, was asked recently why i wanted to move to a country (Australia) where everything tries to kill you – I responded “as opposed to in South Africa ?” ha ha

    • Reeva Cutting
      23rd November 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks! We have seen several snakes here in the last couple of years and they are much less scary than South Africa!

  • Nthabi van Casca
    27th April 2016 at 1:42 am

    Lmao!being swart from the small village who got an offer from Wits.Mannnnnn!I got hits when I mentioned I am going to study in University of Maryland down the States.My groet bro straightly gave it to me”I worked and earned a lot before you,how is that even possible.Stop kidding”.My pa went like”you got drivers licence,STD 10,bank account so ‘Haal uit’ my house,you will make it out there.Mom,just asked me if she needed to get a loan via her lil income from her sister job(nurse).lol my sis just said two of usis too many anyway,I must get going.My so called friends were the once who went,The sun will set where is suppose to set.That was a biggest joke.I remember boarding with a small backpack and my notorized transcript as I was in wits just a year.My Math professor was st the A.port wit me and family.He pat my shoulder and said”You go Tiger,The book got you.You will make it”I feel encouraged and made it big.I was 20,lonely and in strange USA but I always wanted to make it.Schooling officially became citizenship although the road was tough.I walked it and strong.I am a South African who knows we can make it everywhere in any challenges.We are just like that both Black and White.Although our mouth(lol)can sometimes get us in big trouble that we fight to get outta off easily.Proudly Zuid.

  • abd
    26th April 2018 at 10:55 am

    Thanks , very good tips


Leave a Reply