Are you one of the few Americans who’ve moved far away from home? According to a 2016 report from the US Census, nearly 72% of Americans live in or close to the city where they grew up. Admittedly, there are pros and cons either way.
Moving far away from home can seem unnatural, but it can also be quite rewarding. The advancements of modern technology have made communication with loved ones back home easier and the transition far away less mysterious. Drawbacks remain, but it’s up to you if it’s worth it.
Whether moving far away from home is temporary like studying abroad and going to college or permanent such as moving away for a job opportunity, knowing what to expect can be the difference of success or failure for modern-day nomads. Here’s a personal look at the good, the bad, and the in between of moving far away from home.
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Moving Far Away from Home Abroad
Studying abroad is often the first experience someone has with moving far away from home, even if it is temporary. Temporary can be a summer stint, a semester in another country, or in the case of some, fortunate or not, a full year to live abroad.
Our daughter won an all expenses paid, Congress-Bundestag Scholarship to study abroad her senior year of high school. All CBYX recipients spend 10 months living and studying in Germany, or vice versa; that is, if they are German, they experience living and studying abroad for free in American cities.
The Good about Moving Far Away Abroad
There are many benefits to moving far away from home as an abroad student. We’ve learned first-hand how living abroad can benefit your child (and your family).
Our daughter’s experience living abroad was probably the single-most important indicator of her future successes in college. Living abroad afforded her a tremendous opportunity to learn about other cultures, live independently (albeit under the safety-net of the CBYX guidance), and navigate unfamiliar places.
Through living abroad, she learned about herself by problem-solving and making a myriad of decisions each day, things she didn’t face living at home under the constant guidance and support of her family.
Students who live far away have to learn quickly about time-management, organization, and even budgeting. These are all excellent lessons for transitioning into adulthood.
Living abroad certainly dazzled her college recruiters, as it was evident by the dominance it took at her interviews. And the experience most definitely helped in the decision to award her a full-ride academic scholarship to Louisiana State University (LSU).
Then again, living abroad is like an extended vacation, too. You’re meeting people you’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise; you’re eating foods unlike you have at home and traveling to places you might not ever see again. Doing this as a student is an experience of a lifetime, that can’t be replicated any other time in life.
If you have the opportunity to provide this experience for your child, I encourage you to read this article for more information about sending your child to study abroad.
The Bad about Moving Far Away Abroad
Though studying abroad might not seem like you’re moving far away from home, in actuality, it certainly feels like it at the time.
When your child moves away, it is probably the first time you won’t be in charge of his or her every day life. This can be quite daunting to parents and child alike.
As the parent, you won’t be able to ensure your child eats a healthy, nutritious daily diet. You won’t know who your child is hanging out with or whether or not, he or she is even home at night. You obviously hope the ‘abroad’ supervision keeps your child safe, but it is really a hands-off experience for you, not too comforting to say the least.
The culture shock is also quite challenging for your child too. Language barriers make it difficult to do the simplest things like order a sandwich or know which train to take. Then there are also differences in cultural living to learn. All of these things can take a toll on your child living far away from home.
When your child has moved far away from home as an abroad student, he or she can’t just walk in the door and ask for your help. It isn’t quite as easy to pick up a phone either when considering time differences and such.
There are definitely drawbacks to think about when considering moving far away from home even temporarily as a student studying abroad.
The In Between about Moving Far Away from Home Abroad
Living abroad and temporarily moving far away from home has its pros and cons. This is what I call the in between.
Holidays are probably the most challenging times when someone is not living at home. Advances in technology have made it a bit easier to handle being apart.
When our daughter moved far away from home to Germany as a student, we relied heavily on Skype and WhatsApp, free services we could utilize with internet for communication to stay in touch.
The time difference was still an obstacle to overcome, but being able to schedule these moments to connect, made it bearable to be without each other on important dates such as birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Social media and the ease of taking photos also help a lot. Even if your child doesn’t call or Skype as much as you want, you can often find hints of their lives through their social media accounts.
I’m not admitting I stalked our daughter when she lived in Germany as a 17 year old, but I did enjoy the benefits of posts from her or her being tagged by her friends during this time.
Being Facebook friends with our daughter’s host family also ensured I was kept in the loop at times, as well.
These sort of things make it easier on us who experience withdrawal symptoms of their child’s first time away from home.
Moving Far Away from Home as a College Student
Most college students live less than an hour away from home. That being said, it can be a very big transition for those who move out of state (very far away) from home for college, like our oldest son and daughter did.
The Good about Moving Far Away for College
Students who opt to moving very far away from home often have good reason to do so. For some, it’s the chance to attend his or her dream school. For others, like our daughter, who are awarded scholarships, it’s a cost-effective decision that is too good to pass up.
One of the biggest benefits of living far away from home is that it builds independence for students. For many, it’s the first time to be able to make their own decisions without the watchful, parental eye.
Whether it’s being able to eat whatever you want, stay out as late as you want, or just simply the freedom to come and go without having to answer to anyone, moving far away from home for college can be quite appealing to students.
It also can be a great time for parents. For probably the first time since becoming parents, parents can let go of the reins a bit, and relax from being in charge 24/7.
Parents can finally start to reap the rewards of responsibility they’ve hopefully instilled in their child. And if your child is fortunate enough to have earned a scholarship, parents might actually save money when their child moves away for college! After all, feeding an 18 year old can be quite expensive!
The Bad about Moving Far Away for College
Moving far away from home for college can also have some serious drawbacks. Both students and parents can be negatively affected.
Students are making big decisions for the first time and this could lead to problems. From issues that affect grades and college enrollment to choices that can affect personal health and safety for years to come, the ramifications can have a wide range.
For students, loneliness can be a very serious problem when living away from home for the first time. Many don’t acclimate easily to this, to their surprise; and shame, fear, or depression can set in. Each person handles this differently, some with extreme consequences.
The ‘freshman fifteen’ was a well-known saying when I was college age. This was in reference to a commonality among first-year students gaining 15 pounds as an effect of depression-eating from living away from home. Besides depression-eating and its negative affect on your health, other effects of depression can be failed courses, dropping out of school, irresponsibly drinking, or even inappropriate drug use.
However, depression isn’t the only issue facing students who live away from home for the first time. Some also suffer from poor choices that they make-since they lack everyday parental scrutiny. Living away from home for the first time can be too tempting and students act in ways that they haven’t before, to dire outcomes.
For some, not being under direct parental supervision leads to reckless behavior. This could be as minor as not going to class regularly which could result in failed courses or as major as partying too much and developing a drug addiction.
Parents can also experience negative effects of their child moving far away from home for college. Empty nest syndrome is a real issue for some; parents may experience depression not being a part of their child’s life as closely as before. This can lead to problems within the marriage or for their family as a whole, especially if they have other children.
Depending on financial circumstances, moving far away from home for college can also be a monetary issue. It costs much more to live away. Out-of-state tuition is much higher than in-state costs for attending college.
As well, transportation is another financial concern. Whether one travels by car, bus, train, or plane, it’s more expensive to travel the further your child is from home.
Transportation issue also may mean your child visits less often, and this can exacerbate depression, loneliness, and poor choices as mentioned before.
The In Between about Moving Far Away for College
Having your child move far away from home for college isn’t all good or all bad, thus we have the in between. Some of the best times in your child’s life can be from living away at college; likewise, some of the most down times of your child’s life can be from living away at college.
For both our oldest son and daughter, this is true.
Our son had some awesome times judging by the stories he’s happy to tell you, but also, we can attest that he had some really depressing moments, too from living away from home for college.
Our daughter, who is about to graduate from LSU, had a great time as a college freshman, but her sophomore and junior years, though still academically successful, hold some painful moments for her.
At one time she was so depressed her advisor offered her a leave of absence from school. Fortunately, we were able to bring her home for a surprise week of mom and dad pampering that renewed her spirits and she was able to finish the semester strong.
As parents of two children who’ve lived far away from home for college, we can say it’s been both a joy and a trial for us, too.
There is a pride that comes from seeing your child be able to live on his or her own, without you interjecting on a daily basis. There is also a worry that you feel unlike any other time, not knowing what they’re doing AND knowing that you have no control over any bad decisions they may make that can be life-altering!
Moving Far Away as Young Parents
When our four children were 10 and under, we moved over 2,000 miles away from our extended family. For me as a 32 year old mom, it was my first time living more than a 20 minute drive from my parents who we saw several times a week.
For my husband who moved away from home at age 17 (a state away and never looked back), it wasn’t quite as momentous, but an undertaking all the same, as he’d rightfully come to see my parents as his family, too.
Now we have an adult son who’s done something similar. As an airman, he lives states away now with his wife and two young daughters.
As job opportunities and quests for adventure lures young parents, moving far away from home has become normalized today.
The Good about Moving Far Away as Young Parents
Moving far away as young parents can be very good for your family. First, it builds a strong relationship between young parents as they have to rely on each other more than anyone else, for lack of outside, extended family support. This helps them in their parental role, as well as strengthens parents as a couple.
Living away from extended family also provides you the time to solidify yourselves as a family in your own right, rather than dealing with the interruptions and interference of grandparents, aunts, and uncles, etc.
Children come to rely on their parents more when young parents move far away from the home network. Instead of going to grandma or grandpa after mommy and daddy say no, they simply accept ‘no.’
Often the reason young parents move far away from home is job related, so the prosperity as a result of this decision generally is helpful to the family. It is also helpful to grandparents (or other extended family) that they remain in their role and not relied upon as a provider.
When we moved our young family across state lines, we strengthened our marital relationship more the first year than probably the previous ten years combined as a couple. The reliance on each other grounded us as a couple and made us better parents because of it.
Now that our oldest son has done the same, we can envision this for them, too. Yes, we miss them and there are times as grandma, I yearn to see our grandchildren more frequently. However, we truly believe this experience of moving far away from home is better for everyone in the long run.
The Bad about Moving Far Away as Young Parents
It’s not to say that moving far away from home as young parents is easy. It is certainly not.
I remember many times I had wished, even cried, that my mom and dad were nearby for support. For example, that time I was driving to the grocery store and another car plowed into mine, nearly totaling it, making our only vehicle undriveable…I wanted my mom and dad.
And the time I had pneumonia and the doctor threatened to hospitalize me, we could have really used my mom and dad’s help watching the kids. Not to mention, going weeks, months, and years without a babysitter or child-free date night…to say we could have really used a grandma and grandpa close by is an understatement!
Then there are other kinds of moments when you really wish grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins lived near you such as momentous birthdays, holidays, graduations, and yes, karate tournaments.
Our children don’t have a strong bond with cousins and though they have a good relationship with their grandparents, it’s not quite the same as it would have been if they’d lived closer growing up, more than likely.
The In Between about Moving Far Away from Home as Young Parents
Like with living abroad or going to college far away from home, there are positives and negatives when young parents do the same. It’s not that it’s all good or all bad.
If opportunities or adventure causes your young family to set out far away from relatives, you can make the most of it by being aware of issues and preparing as best as possible.
For lack of on-hand support, you can look into quality babysitting services as well as co-op situations, or even using teachers from your children’s school. This isn’t as cheap as probably family would be, but it’s a suitable alternative and something to consider.
We used our children’s preschool teacher several times for our date nights and when I had to travel for my job, my husband either took time off or we made arrangements with friends or co-workers. Even my principal pitched in one time picking up our older children for school.
As for building relationships with extended family utilize social media, texting, Skype and FaceTime to ensure connections are strong. You can also plan vacations that support visits either to you or you to them when possible.
And becoming my granddaughter’s Pen Pal is something I wouldn’t have known had we not lived far apart.
Moving Far Away from Home as Older Adults
Moving away from home isn’t just something young parents might do. This is also something older adults may find themselves doing. Job opportunities, quality of life, and yes, adventure as well, may be reasons older adults live away from their parents and extended family.
Like with all the others, there are good things about moving far away from home, the bad, and the in between.
The Good of Moving Far Away from Home as Older Adults
Living away from our home states has been enjoyable for the most part. At the time of writing this, it has been 15 years since we first set off across the country. Since then, we’ve made many moves, but none that led us back ‘home.’
Probably one of the biggest benefits from living away from our home state is that our children are fiercely independent and self-reliant, learning from the model we put before them. This is such a relief as parents to know that your adult children have jumped that hurdle over to adulthood successfully and are thriving.
It also has made our family unit stronger. Because we haven’t had others ‘watch’ or ‘babysit’ our children often, we have experienced a lot of quality, and quantity, time with them. Essentially, we know our children well!
As a testament to the successes of parenting away from extended family, we continue to enjoy weekly Skype chats and frequent texts from our adult children, but we also enjoy knowing they can handle their day to day life without us. As parents, there’s probably nothing more gratifying.
The Bad of Moving Far Away from Home as Older Adults
There are problems with living away from home as older parents. As you age, so does the rest of your family and this means you might not be as available as you wish or as needed when family members get sick or pass away.
When we lived in California, three of my grandparents passed away. As well, I wasn’t ‘home’ when several aunts and uncles passed, in addition to some cousins.
These moments led us to moving closer to family, yet we still are 8 hours drive from the nearest relatives. When my father had a brain aneurysm and small stroke, I was able to visit and be with him, yet it took some planning and rearranging of things in order to make it happen. As well, I wasn’t able to stay to provide regular help.
As time goes by, I know it will be harder and harder to live away from aging parents.
The In Between of Moving Far Away from Home as Older Adults
Fortunately, technology makes it easier to compromise when you live away from home. Daily texts makes it almost seem like you’re just down the street.
You can certainly strike a balance if you live far from home by maintaining consistent contact via technology and structuring your visits more frequently if you plan well.
The give and take of moving far away from home is what makes the decision personal. It’s possible to do it with balance that makes the best out of it for your family.
Wrapping Up Moving Far Away from Home
Moving far away from home is something my family has lived personally. From us moving away as young parents to our daughter living abroad in high school to our children going away to college, we have seen many variations of this experience and know the good, the bad, and the in between of it closely.
- People find themselves moving far away from home for many reasons. These include temporary ones such as studying abroad and going away to college and permanent ones such as moving for job opportunity or career advancement.
- Good effects of moving far away from home are independence and strong marital and immediate-family relationships.
- Bad consequences of moving far away from home can sometimes be depression, loneliness, and poor extended family relationships.
- The decision to move far away from home is a personal one and effects can be good or bad, as well as a balance in between. It really just depends on you.
We’ve experienced some drawbacks to moving far away from home 15 years ago, but the positives have been so strong that we wouldn’t change it for anything. We continue to enjoy our move far away from home.