Telling Your Family And Friends About Your Decision To Expatriate

Once you’ve made your decision to expatriate, you might be so excited that you want to make sure the whole world knows about it. But in my experience you need to be careful how you make your announcement. It’s not just what you say, but also when and how you say it. Timing is everything, and so is tact.

Tell Your Family First

No less than two months before you leave, tell your family and closest friends first. If you can, tell them in person. Give them the truth, tactfully. With sincerity, say that you will miss them and appreciate their support.

They may express disappointment and anger at your decision. They will need time to get used to the idea so it’s not such a shock when you do actually leave. It’s a huge change and one that most people are afraid of even though that seems counter-intuitive. But, once they do come around, you may be surprised how supportive they can be. As some of my own family members did, some might even ask to visit you in your new country!

Telling Your Boss

This may be common sense, but it still bears repeating: if you have facebook with your work friends on it, do not announce your decision on facebook (or any social media site) until you inform your boss first. Your boss needs to hear it from you first.

Give him the standard two weeks notice. I wrote a blog post about sending in my resignation notice:

Be Prepared To Explain Everything

It’s important to remember that you will get lots of questions about what led to your decision, your finances, taxes, health insurance, and integrating into a new culture. Be prepared to answer these questions, or at least show that you already have these areas covered.

I got grilled by some friends and family members on paying taxes while living abroad. I wasn’t about to get into the finer points of tax law, so I just told them I had an accountant on retainer, and this account happened to specialize in expat taxation. Once they learned that, they backed off on the questioning.

If you are not prepared to answer those questions with confidence and authority, you are not ready to become an expat yet. Do your homework and get all essential areas covered before you break the news to anyone else.


3 comments On Telling Your Family And Friends About Your Decision To Expatriate

  • I remember sitting my aging mother down to tell her I was leaving for a job I just secured in Singapore. I knew she wasn’t going to take it well and was dreading the conversation. But at the same time I had no choice but to have the conversation.

    Was pretty difficult and there was lots of anger and tears. But had to be done.

    • Wow, that had to be rough. Thanks for sharing. My experience was funnier actually — when I told my mom the news, I had forgotten it was April 1, so she thought it was an April Fool’s joke and didn’t believe me. I had to tell her again on another day…

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