Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Kazakhstan are all major destinations for labour migrants from rural areas of southern Kyrgyzstan. Along with searching for better income, younger men and women also migrate for educational purposes; children and elderly people stay behind. While older migrants often regard this separation from their families as temporary, younger people start to put down roots in places other than their homes and this has long-term consequences for development in rural areas. The paper therefore looks into families’ multi-local settings and why young migrants fail to return home. It also considers the potential impact on rural development including remittance dependency, an increasing shortage of qualified labour and new conditions of social care. The paper concludes with an assessment of the policy implications.