The existing literature on transnational care suggests that it is possible to care for ageing parents from afar. However, most of these studies are based on research in higher-income countries, where families have access to institutional support and where travel and communication networks are generally of high quality. Those studies that have focused on lower-income countries of origin, have found a greater likelihood of migrants’ parents being in a vulnerable situation. Here, though, there has been a preference for focusing on rural areas. This paper addresses this gap by reporting on a research project that spans rural, urban and peri-urban areas, as well as different migration streams (regional South-South as well as South-North), and asks: How do migrants’ parents fare during their adult children’s absences in a context of very weak institutional support, widespread poverty and inequality? The paper finds that parents in urban and peri-urban areas are generally better able to negotiate their adult children’s absences, while those in rural areas experience an increase in their vulnerability. However, there are also stories that are in tension with these general trends, which indicate that social networks, migrants’ destinations, and the parents’ socio-economic status also mediate the availability of transnational care.