How to cope when your friend becomes an expat

Lauren (right of picture) is our Digital Comms Manager here at Angloinfo HQ, joining us from Birmingham (yes she does have the accent). She’s responsible for writing our weekly newsletters and eDMs – and ensuring that everything goes according to plan. Here she describes how she’s taken the recent news that her closest friend is moving away and becoming an expat.

“At first, I was worried to let my friend know how much I was going to miss her and how much of a surprise her decision was…”

A month ago my best friend of 14 years told me she’s moving away to the other side of the world. Indefinitely.

While I can wholeheartedly say that I’m so happy and excited, proud that she’s making this move all on her on her own and doing something completely different, it’s safe to say that at first, those weren’t the only emotions I was feeling.

Nobody wants to be the unsupportive selfish friend, and after the initial –  ‘how dare she not take my wishes into account’ – crazy thought process wore off, I’m happy to say that the feelings of sadness, betrayal (okay, maybe a tad melodramatic) and jealousy have all but dissipated.

However, I’m sure there are many of you who have experienced or are experiencing the same thing as me, so if your friend is moving away, or you’re the friend who’s becoming an expat (how could you?!) then here’s some advice to come to terms with your new relationship…

Get over yourself

Your friend has made the tough decision to start a life in another country. They’re probably feeling anxious and stressed enough, without having a stroppy, moping mate to deal with too. One way to get out of your funk is to remember to think about things from their perspective. Think about ways you can help them, whether that’s physically or emotionally.

Maybe offer to help them pack, file their admin, or just be there for them when they’re having a last minute meltdown. Remember, they’re the one making the big life-changing decision, they need your support.

But listen to your feelings too!

Even though your focus should be on helping your friend, you’re allowed to have your own feelings and make them known. At first, I was worried to let my friend know how much I was going to miss her and how much of a surprise her decision was, but after telling her so, it made me feel a whole lot better about the situation and helped us move onto more interesting topics of discussion – like Christmas in Melbourne!

Talk to someone else

If you’re still finding it tough and need a bit more support – that’s okay too. Talk to someone you feel close to, who perhaps isn’t directly involved, and isn’t a close friend of the person moving away. It’s completely normal to feel down in this sort of situation, but if you’re finding it difficult to cope, consider talking to a therapist to work through a few things.

Leaving do or no leaving do?

Many people might want to mark their leaving with the traditional leaving ‘do’. I can see the appeal, but it’s not really my friend’s kind of thing. That’s why we organised a small get together of just the two of us and two other of our closest friends instead, so we actually have quality time to spend together, and you know, talk, before she heads off. If you’re into big parties then that’s great, but if you just want to see your friend before they move, then dedicate some time to having fun in just a small group.

Keeping in touch

Even with the best intentions, keeping up to date with my friend’s life when she’s on the other side of the world will get tough at times, I know it will. But what with Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and Skype, I don’t think staying in touch will be a problem. As these miracles of technology are where we chat on a day-to-day basis anyway, she’ll never be afraid of missing a new picture of my cat or a Harry Potter meme. Lucky her.


I knew I wanted to give my friend a gift before she headed off, so my small group of mates and I decided to get her a Kindle to take with her on her travels – book reading aside, she can access the internet, play games and download apps where she can talk to her friends and family back home. It’s not a selfish present I swear.

I’ve heard of others making collages and photo books for their friends, and if they are travelling with more than just a rucksack, then it could be a brilliant way to show you care.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I do know that your friend moving abroad is a turbulent experience, so if you’re feeling, sad, angry or confused at their sudden desire to live their life away from you, then you’re not the only one.

What’s your experience? How have you coped with a friend becoming an expat, or how have you dealt with leaving your loved ones behind? Let me know in the comments box below.