my love-hate relationship with house hunters international

I love it. I hate it. I love it. I hate it. I love it.

HGTV’s House Hunters International is one of a a small handful of programs I watch on TV, which include Stephen Colbert and the Jon Stewart Show.

For those who don’t get the HGTV channel or have never seen the show, House Hunters International is a spin-off of House Hunters, a program that follows individuals, couples and families searching for a new home with the assistance of a realtor. They always end up with 3 choices, and a selection is revealed (the viewer fun is in  guessing which home they select).  House Hunters International properties are featured from around the world.

When I watch, half the time I want to strangle the way-too-typical expats who complain that their European apartment doesn’t come with a big closet or American size kitchen, and the other half of the time I’m swooning over the lifestyle of a family moving from Thailand to Australia where their needs – not wants – include a pool or adjacent beach.

But what many of the featured homebuyers are searching for is a dreamy home – or really a dreamy life – away from” it all” in a country defined in idealistic terms.   While  I appreciate the show’s attempt to feature semi-retirees or international businesspeople that can afford quite a lot, alongside more working-class professionals choosing to relocate, I can’t help wonder if when these home searchers become home owners in Croatia, the Caribbean or Italy, how much they will integrate into the country they are moving to. This is something I often wondered when meeting expats when living abroad, who often lived in expat bubbles, and many of you reading this know exactly what I mean.

But I know that’s not really the point of the show. And I watch. and watch. And try to understand just why I am completely addicted to this show. I think it’s my passion for travel, the location shots and personal stories of why these people are moving to remote locations that pique my curiosity. Or, as  a new homeowner, I love the renovation ideas and home decor (especially the tiles).

I wonder who the interns are tasked with cooking up the episode names that include “Texans head for Cost Rica” and “A Trulli Happy Life in Puglia, Italy” (Really? Come on!), and “Londoners seek a more Leisurely Life in France.” (I’d love to see a follow-up series featuring buyers one year later , like “Stuck in Sicily with a Renovation Nightmare” or “The Mosquitos suck in Belize” or “Why are the Locals Laughing at Me?” )

All vacations come to an end, and I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make.  And for this former expat – and perhaps for some of you reading this –   when you are no longer on vacation, and start to live the highs and lows of daily life as a resident in your new country, that’s when the real fun begins. I hope after these international house hunters finish furnishing their gorgeous new foreign digs, they will experience rich rewards beyond a new house.

But, likely, I’m not the target audience of House Hunters International.

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13 responses to “my love-hate relationship with house hunters international

  1. Oh, this is terrific. I’ll have to see if I can find this show online! I haven’t heard of it actually, but I do know what you mean.
    I recently had the most awful travel experience with a guest who, granted, was only vacationing for 2 weeks, but didn’t try an inch to learn or integrate (consistent whining and complaining about the food, having to walk, my lifestyle, and soooooooo many other things). Luckily, I’ve had dozens of very wonderful, open-minded travel companions and guests before to know more than well enough that this wasn’t appropriate behavior. Favorite words during her vacation time here were “cultural ambassador”, but unfortunately she would fall deep into the way-too-typical expat.
    Fortunately, it’s a good reminder for me of how NOT to act as an expat and when I travel.

    • I have a link in the post where I think you can see episodes online (check it out!). I bet the spanish episodes would be interesting to you- there was one recently in andalucia. Having certain house guests from home puts one in an interesting position when abroad, from what I remember… what a great post topic that would make (you would make it hilarious) if you could be 100 percent sure certain guests would never read the blog! And I highly doubt you need many reminders…

      • Wooo! The link didn’t work the other day, but it works today!! Oh, I am going to have so much fun…
        Guest is an avid reader. It just means I’ll have to get creative. 😉

  2. Haha I liked this little bit. As you know, they often show the 3,4,5 or 6 month later and you can usually see they are getting on quite well. As far as the ‘expat bubble’, I do know what you mean as I have lived abroad myself. But the old cliche’ holds some truth: birds of a feather flock together. People tend to seek out those already like them.
    The thing i do not appreciate is the couple ‘needing’ (as you say) a double vanity in a $900,000 house in a country where most the population lives on less than $3.45. I am not sure if that is what you meant by the ‘vacations have to end’ and with people realizing that even paradise has a crack or two in it.
    But overall, the show reminds me of my travels and of the people along the way, so I’l keep watching.

    • I agree – and you make a good point about the old cliche.
      And I will too….(keep watching, that is!). Maybe someone from HHI will come across this blog and I could put a request in for where they go next. Would love to see some intl house hunting in parts of Northern Italy where we lived.

  3. I`ll have to check that out. Currently HGTV is looking for Americans to do a show here in Tokyo where they follow the family around watching them make fools of themselves. THAT I`ll be glued to…

  4. Following an American family living in Tokyo. Should be pretty funny.

  5. Enjoyed this. HHI episodes run back-to-back and I can get sucked into them. They offer a compelling mixture of sofa travel and superiority–I watch thinking, *I* would embrace the culture and the situation and learn to live in Hong Kong, for example, without an oven, but living abroad is always about finding that balance between who you are and where you are. When we looked at flats in the UK we were American but having come from a 1-BR apt in NYC where a basement laundry room was a perk we didn’t have the same expectations for parking and space that many Americans did, but oh how the lack of a “mixer tap” in the bathroom drove me crazy. But real estate agents the world over all have that combination of cheerful and exasperated. Well, at this price…

  6. I love HHI! My fiance and I actually have been contacted by producers to appear on the show so I’m really excited. (They saw my blog) Being an expat is scary, a lot of work to learn the customs and culture of the new place, but it’s really rewarding in so many ways. You have a great idea for a new show though! I’m glad to see there seems to maybe even been a market for it! I would definitely watch 🙂

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