Telling Relatives About Your Move to Australia.

ANZ JuneIt’s always a tricky one, telling your relatives that you’re moving all the way to the other side of the world. When, exactly, is it a good time to mention it? How do you tell “granny” that the cute little fella she dotes on twice a week when she looks after him for you, is going to be taken away from her?

It’s something I wrote about for Australia and New Zealand magazine and which appeared in their June article. It was called…

Telling the Relos

Moving to Australia starts with an idea. Something like “Hmm. I think I’ll move to Australia.” And with that very thought, you will embark on a long and sometimes tricky journey that will hopefully end with you securing a permanent residency visa for Australia.

Along the way, there will be many obstacles to overcome. The biggest one might well be granny and grandad; not yours, but those of your kids.

grannyIt could be your parents, your in-laws, or both. It doesn’t end there. Aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters may not be so keen on your plan to move yourself and your children to the other side of the world either. Each of them will present an additional hurdle in your steeplechase to a visa.

So, what do you do?

Firstly, as I am now an Australian, I need to find a word to collectively describe all these people, and relatives is just too long. So, henceforth, these objectors will be referred to as relos.

Your first dilemma will be when to tell them about your plans. Should you mention it as soon as you have the idea? Or wait until you have secured your visa before breaking the news? One answer doesn’t fit all, but here’s what we did.

We decided to tell all our relos as soon as we had the idea. From idea to visa can be quite a lengthy process; for us it was something like 18 months. From visa to “bye bye, must go, got a plane to catch, one way ticket to Australia” can be quite a short process; for us it was about three months.

Imagine saying all that to your relos with such short notice? Exactly! Awkward questions.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” “Have you been doing this behind our back?” “How could you do this to us?”

Now, you’ve got about three months in which to tidy up all your loose ends, sell the house, organise the removals, pack in your jobs, say goodbye to your friends AND patch up your now very fragile relationships with all of your family.

On the other hand, you could tell them when you first have the idea. Now, two of those questions are redundant. And the “how could you do this to us?” question is easily answered. “Oh, long way to go yet. Who knows what might happen? Australia isn’t an easy country to get into, we haven’t even applied yet. It’s just an idea

Now all of your relatives, sorry, forgot, relos have time to adjust to what ‘might’ happen. During the process, you can repeatedly say “But if we do make it, you will visit, won’t you?”

I believe Australia is a great place to bring up your children. I also believe that what is best for your children is more important than what is best for your relatives. That’s why I believe nobody should be put off by pressure from their own family.

I also believe that when your relos do visit you in Australia, the penny will drop. They will see the new lifestyle you are all enjoying and understand why you did what you did. And on top of all that, they’ll get a holiday with free accommodation in The Lucky Country.


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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Thomas August 15, 2013, 6:19 am |

    Hi Bob.

    My wife got offered a job in Brisbane. We have a daugther, who will be around 3 years old at the time we hopefully get there ( she just signed the contract ).

    How did your daugther deal with the changes and new life ? Did you have any problems with all the changes ?

    Couldnt find a better category for the question 🙂


    • BobinOz August 15, 2013, 9:47 pm |

      Good question, I can understand your concern. We thought Elizabeth would breeze it, but she probably found it more difficult than either myself or my wife in the early stages.

      It all worked out in the end, and I have written a post about it. You can read it here, it’s called Elizabeth’s Story.

      Cheers, Bob

      • Thomas August 16, 2013, 3:24 am |

        Thank you …

        We will send all her stuf early after reading your story.

        Great info …

  • Kimberly December 17, 2012, 2:23 pm |

    We took your advice and today we told my parents we are “thinking” of moving to Australia. My husband is an Aussie and so there was always the chance that we would go. Our plan is to be in Australia this time nest year. We will be applying for citizenship for our tow boys and a spousal visa for me. We are headed to Newcastle, where my husband’s family is so that we will have plenty of support. Thanks for your blog. The advice has been great and the stories, very reassuring.

    • BobinOz December 18, 2012, 12:31 am |

      I’m glad I seem to have been of some help Kimberly, and I do hope that your move goes smoothly. Nice part of the country Newcastle, some beautiful coastline and beaches down that way, I’m sure you will enjoy it.



  • Becci August 1, 2012, 1:50 am |

    Hi bob 7 weeks and we will be there in Newcastle NSW to start our new life with 2 young boys and the family thing I totally agree on we told everybody up front , yes there have been tears and woe is me but also the realisation and total appreciation of why we are doing this fantastic thing , my gramps always said live for today and not for tomorrow and that’s what we are doing !!!! both sets of grandparents have their flights booked for next January , October and December so hey they are so over it !!!! Just need to get through the tears of the departure lounge

    • BobinOz August 1, 2012, 8:16 pm |

      Congrats Becci, you’ll have a busy couple of months ahead making final preparations. Sounds like your relos took it quite well, good to hear you already have some holiday bookings for your new home 🙂

      Hope you get to love it down there is much as I love it up here.

  • patrick byrne July 23, 2012, 8:16 am |

    hello bob, we plan to move to brisbane as soon as we secure visa, any ideas for where to live to raise two small boys 5 and 3. my wife and i intend to both work so travelling around will be part of the decisions. schools, childcare, shops etc.
    just a quick few info bits to get us searching, . your website is very informative. will be here again.

    • BobinOz July 23, 2012, 8:52 pm |

      Hi Patrick

      At the top of the page, you’ll see a link to “Australian Cities”, take a look at the page for Brisbane in the drop down menu. If you read the comments, you will get some more information about some of the suburbs.

      Also check out my pages called Which Suburb? and Which school?, you’ll find them very helpful in your research as well.

      Hope that helps.



  • Kaven July 22, 2012, 10:49 pm |


    From Canada,
    I started with the dream 9 years ago (2003) age 21. At the time I was just getting out of college and new where I wanted to be in the future. For myself, my future family, and my parents who would actually be coming down for 6 months a year. At the time I did not qualify for and visa’s.

    In 2006 I now had been in my field for 4 years. A co-worker was able to set up an interview in Brisbane. I had yet to ever visit Australia, and wanted to make a vacation out of the trip. None of my friends could afford the trip ($2000 return) and still have a vacation. So with my Father newly retired at the young age of 50, off we went. I stayed in Suffers, Brisbane on the river, Noosa Heads & Tangalooma Moreton Island. The vacation was great and so was the interview… except I was under qualified for the job. No worries I was still a young lad.

    In 2008 I was 26, My good buddy from college landed a Lady and moved to Sydney, well Cronulla to be correct. So since my field of work is kinda of based in Sydney, I thought I’d make it down again to see that part of the east coast. And get some tours through some of my industry. This time we visited From Wollongong NSW to Suffers QLD, Staying in Cronulla, Coogee, Maroubra, WaggaWagga, Byron Bay, and Suffers. (can you tell I love saying these words) Anyway the trip was great and now I knew where I wanted to be.

    2009….. My Job was taken off the SOL list. It was the first time since I was a child that I actually cried… I mean the red face and snot out the nose, a truly genuine experence. My only hope was having a employer sponsor me… from 15,000km in Canada… That’s a up hill battle.

    2010 I did it !!!!!! Job Sponsorship. At the age of 28 with my Lady & New Born Son, I had through a recruiter, I got a interview with the largest place in my field. And over a some phone negotiations, got a
    $68,000 a year job with 20% Supervisor and 20% Overnight yearly bonus, High % Supper, and 5 weeks vacation. Not to shabby

    All I mean everyone that through this whole possess who was for it, be came against it. I feel it was because My was was just 3 months old, but friends were pushing me away, mother & Father went from wanting to visit 6 months a year to “We might be able to see you a week every other year” to the biggest My Lady. She was having none of it. She was afraid she would lose her view close friends and never see family again. Anytime I needed to talk, and I only had 2 weeks to decide it I wanted the job, everyone would push away. To the point that I said the worst sentence in my life…. :Im Sorry But I Cannot Take This Position…..
    This destroyed me

    2012 – 30 years old, I have applied every 2 months to positions in and around NSW since 2010, with not 1 interview. I knew as I said those words I was destroying everything I had worked for, I realized I now knew more about the political, current events and sport of Australia the I do Canada. My Lady now sees how ever in our home country friendships fade and family never visit. She also sees how much it has effected me.

    I keep trying for My family, we will get there!!

    • Kaven July 22, 2012, 10:55 pm |

      Oh Ya I forgot My Point


      : )

      I hope this helps atleast 1 person with there decission

      • BobinOz July 23, 2012, 8:47 pm |

        Hi Kaven

        Thank you so much for coming here and telling us your story, and thank you even more for remembering to pop back and tell us the point 🙂 I read your first post and couldn’t really work out what you were getting at, but now it really does make sense.

        And you are so absolutely right! Sometimes the window of opportunity is only open for a short while, the trick is to go through it when you can. You have found this out to your cost.

        I hope you do get another chance, I’m sure you will, you are still very young. Keep on trying and don’t give up. And if the chance comes again, take it!

        For me, there is nothing more important than your immediate family, and that’s you, your wife and your kids. Everyone else is big enough to take care of themselves and I can visit, or not.

        Take care


  • Josh & Pete July 21, 2012, 11:04 pm |

    Rupert, I sense you might not be too clever, so here’s a hint:


    Josh & Pete (got it now?)

    PS: if formal professional qualifications are any indication of being clever, then I belong in the “clever club” – though I concede, my blogging on this site does dent my credibility!

    • BobinOz July 22, 2012, 6:30 pm |

      I sense it’s you, Josh and Pete, who are the ones that are not too clever. Fancy wasting your time (that you’ll never get back) posting comments on my blog that are a blatant breach of my Comment Policy.

      I also wonder what went wrong for you both to believe that being obnoxious is clever.

      For the record, Donald Horne does not own the copyright to the words “The Lucky Country”, he simply wrote a book about Australia with that as its title. It wasn’t made as a compliment at the time (1964), but has long since been adopted by many others and used as a phrase to describe everything that is great about Australia.

      People who use it are not ignorant, they are just more up-to-date than you are.

      All future comments made by either of you will be deleted, life is too short to waste time on people like yourselves.

  • Rupert July 21, 2012, 7:35 pm |

    Hey Peter and Josh, quit moaning about Australia will you? You don’t know you’re born. Here’s an idea… why don’t all you negative Aussies move to Britain, (where I’m sure you’ll fit in) – and all the positive Brits move to Australia. Then all the “second-rate people who sure its luck” would be replaced with innovative people with ideas who can appreciate how great Australia really is. It will then become ‘The Clever Country’.

  • Josh July 20, 2012, 10:32 pm |


    My point is that the way the phrase is used is misleading – or if I’m being generous – those who use the phrase in this way are simply ignorant.

    If I am telling you nothing you know already, then why do you perpetuate the myth?

    And why would I wish to read your “e-book”…that would 20 minutes I’d never get back (-:


  • Peter J @ Perth July 19, 2012, 11:18 pm |

    Australia = “The lucky country”…Oh really…? >>>

    • BobinOz July 20, 2012, 9:10 pm |

      Peter, if you’d read my free e-book “20 Reasons“, you’d know you are not tell me anything new. I write about that in the foreward.

      Anyway, your point is?

  • Karen July 19, 2012, 8:03 pm |

    Thanks Bob, i think it takes real courage to emigrate and leave family behind.
    We are due to go on holiday to validate, and then emigrate to QLD within the next couple of years- thanks for your website Bob, it has inspired us! 🙂

    • BobinOz July 20, 2012, 9:05 pm |

      Yes, it does take courage, but you will be rewarded for that and so will your children. I am chuffed that I have been some kind of inspiration and I hope everything works out well for you and your family.


  • Rupert July 19, 2012, 5:00 pm |

    My wife and I had the idea 18 months ago. We drew a line in the sand and aimed to be gone and safely ensconced in Sydney before the London Olympics. We all know the British ‘government’ and all the various branches of bureaucracy couldn’t organise a you know what in a brewery, and neither of us could give two gallahs about the Olympics, so it was a good line to aim for. We’d be gone before the madness.

    My mother was distraught and laid on the biggest guilt trip you could imagine – tears, threats, accusations of cruelty and manipulation etc. But we did it nonetheless and six weeks ago we arrived in Sydney and I have never been so happy. I love it. I mean, I seriously love it. It’s an awesome place and I’m deliriously happy.

    But… I am now back in London on business for three weeks and it’s miserable. As predicted, the streets of London are in chaos and the tube is running slow. People are glum and smelly and rude. I can’t wait to get back to Sydney.

    The dark cloud does have a silver lining, however, because I’m staying with my aged mother, so it’s like I never left. The hard part now, is leaving AGAIN, this time not knowing when I’ll return. It may be the last time my mother and see each other.

    As someone once said, “life is hard, so get on with it”.

    • BobinOz July 19, 2012, 7:33 pm |

      Hey, lucky you, you’re back in London just in time the Olympics! I understand there are plenty of tickets still up for grabs. Although you could probably bunk in the way security is.

      Glad to hear you are loving Sydney, and that you also stayed strong in the face of your dear old mum’s tricks. As I said to Karen above, they only do it because they don’t want to lose you.

      Whatever it was that sent you back to England means you can now enjoy some precious time with your mum. Take care!


  • Karen July 19, 2012, 8:37 am |

    Our visa was granted back in April, we have a year to validate and then we are permanent residents- we have 2 young children and our motivation is to give them a better future- more job opportunities and a healthier outdoor lifestyle.
    We told our family as soon as the idea entered our minds- and at first, they were supportive- but because it took so long for our visa to come through, they had too much time to think about it- and our daily lives were made a misery as there would be comments such as ‘well you won’t have any help with the kids if you move to Australia’. The most emotional, and stressful thing we have ever done- I do wish we had kept it to ourselves, and then told them once the visa had come through. Then there wouldn’t have been so much pressure from family to stay!

    • BobinOz July 19, 2012, 7:24 pm |

      Well, as I said, one answer doesn’t fit all, and telling your relos early clearly hasn’t worked out for you. Some family do make it very hard, but I think it’s only because they really don’t want to lose you.

      I’m glad you have stayed strong and I hope you do remain strong because I firmly believe Australia will be a much better place to bring up your children. And trust me, when you’re relos do come out to visit and see your new lifestyle, they will understand.

      I think 🙂

  • Rob July 18, 2012, 11:01 pm |

    I’ve had to do the very same just this week, to my parents and my sister. I was dreading it and put it off longer than I should have but in the end they were absolutely fine with it and really happy for me (I think the promise of free accomodation for a holiday softened the blow)…

    Now that’s all done there a few lose ends for me to tie up, I fly in 8 weeks. Incredibly excited!

    • BobinOz July 19, 2012, 7:20 pm |

      Yes, the free holiday thing always helps out. Glad your relos didn’t give you too hard a time, sounds like you got of light.

      See you in eight weeks!

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