Hooked on House Hunters International

By Karen

I’ve found a travel show I love even more than watching Anthony Bourdain stroll strange streets, stuffing food into his mouth.

It’s House Hunters International on HGTV. In 30 minutes, a regular single person or couple, not always American, who wants to relocate to another country checks out 3 properties there, then picks one as home.

There’s a domestic House Hunters, too, but every time I’ve watched, married twits with budgets inadequate for their outlandish expectations rejected great homes for dumb reasons. It would be amusing only if they’d let the real estate agents snap and cuss out the stupidest clients or beat the living crap out of them.

But back to International. They price everything in U.S. currency so you can relate, and show where real people live in Paris, Aruba, Tuscany, Hanoi. In so many places, the spectacular everyday views of water, city streets, and mountains are drool-worthy.

Thinking of Bourdain, I really got into the Hanoi episode, where a single guy wanted a one-bedroom apartment in a real Vietnamese neighborhood. In his search (the places all came furnished), he found a fridge in one living room, and a shower in a closet off the bedroom, but the toilet and sink off the hallway.

A local friend helped him snag a beautiful, modern place and they negotiated the rent down to $360 a month from $450.

After you see the 3 properties, the people discuss the pros and cons of each place before picking one. I don’t think I’ve ever guessed the right property, and they NEVER pick the one I would have chosen. Weird.

The show ends by following up a few months later, and the people are always deliriously happy in their new home.

Sigh. It really makes you want to pack up and just go for it.

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13 Responses to Hooked on House Hunters International

  1. jimmie chew says:

    we like that show too!

  2. adele says:

    Friday nights are big nights because HGTV shows several HHI shows. Last week I saw a young American couple relocating to Cannes. I nearly wept with envy, because I could just smell the sea and the lavender, jasmine and wild thyme coming down from the Alpes Maritimes. Surprisingly, Cannes rents were lower than those in NYC.

    As you can see, I’m pretty hooked too. It’s a very different show from NoRes, but I love seeing what life for sort of ordinary people would be like in foreign locales — I even thought Malta and Cypress looked good.

    I’m not very good at guessing which place the housetestants will pick, either, but a friend of mine observed that if the couple is married, the wife often seems to have more say — I’m not completely convinced that’s true.

  3. catsworking says:

    Aha! Friday nights! I had no idea when it’s supposed to be on. I usually just catch it here and there by accident if I think of it.

    I get very excited when they’re doing shows about places I would want to live, which are Europe or the Caribbean. Although I did see somebody move to Ecuador and it looked pretty good, too. Except the climate is probably brutal.

    I would love to see someone move to Scandinavia, just for the decor and prices.

    Turns out I’d rather watch people just looking at kitchens. Go figure.

  4. adele says:

    HHI is on pretty ;much every day — once in the early evening and once probably at 11 your time. But on Fridays, they have sort of a marathon and tend to show a few episodes in a row — I don’t always remember that it’s on, but several of my friends are addicted as well. In fact, my friend, Laura, whom I’ll be visiting in Tucson next week, is often heard to say, “What say we wind down with an episode of House Hunters International.”

    France and Italy hold the most interest for me, although I can watch any of them. Of the Caribbean shows I’ve seen, I have to say St. Maarten looked very good. I’m not a very beach-y person, but it looked like there was a real culture there. And surprisingly, I’ve seen a couple of Hong Kong shows that piqued my interest, probably because of an abiding fondness for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, the 1955 or ’56 movie staring William Holden and Jennifer Jones.

  5. catsworking says:

    Adele, I was looking back through the archives of the show. I had no idea it’s been on something like 34 seasons! I always get excited when they do one in Paris. The site shows when they plan to rerun the old episodes, too. But they do seem to be on 24/7 and kind of impossible to keep up with, so I guess I’ll keep using my hit-or-miss method of catching them.

    I’ve been to St. Maarten many times. It’s a very interesting island, half Dutch, half French. Would love to live there.

    I love the move Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, but living in Asia is not something I aspire to in this life. Maybe next time.

  6. CfromFL says:

    I have been a great fan of House Hunter Intl for a long time but I have to laugh at the folks who are plunking down mega thousands of dollars for condos or homes in parts of Mexico and Central America that are not only crime ridden but in bad hurricane zones.I don’t put much faith in “gated communities” having lived (but moved out of) South Florida. I am also amazed at what has become of the Turks and Caicos–went there in early 1970’s when they used to transport the marijahoonie to the air strips in the local school busses. Times have changed!

  7. Zappa's mom says:

    Karen,we think with the same brain! I happened to catch HHI a few months ago was charmed by it.I loved the Malta episode and the one with a young British couple looking for a house in dreamy villages in Normandy. In my fantasy life,I have a townhome in Grosvenor,a flat in Paris and a farm house in Avignon and a beach house in Puglia(I’ll just rent in the West Indies) all of you are welcome at any time!

    ZM

  8. catsworking says:

    Welcome, CfromFL! Yes, I’m with you on the hazards of buying in an unfamiliar places, and in places with iffy weather.

    I’ve never been to the Turks and Caicos, so I have no idea, but I remember years ago I took a guided tour of St. Maarten a year or 2 after it had been hit by a bad hurricane, and the hills were still dotted with blue tarps covering roofs. Somebody asked the guide why the houses STILL hadn’t been fixed, and he told us that the island had the highest per capita income of any of them, but the people had a mindset where, “If the plastic does as well as a roof, then just keep the plastic” and were in no hurry to restore the status quo. Eventually, the tarps DID go, but that little factoid always stayed with me.

    ZM, we DO think with the same brain! I’d like a place in all the same countries you mentioned. Maybe we could be roomies!

  9. Mary Austin says:

    I love this show, and have been watching from the very beginning. It’s true, the buyers aren’t as disgustingly picky as the American ones. I always think that if they saw my place, which I love, they’d turn their little snotty noses up! In the house hunters international it’s fun to see the various locales. I do have to say that the kitchens generally leave a lot to be desired, by our standards.

  10. catsworking says:

    Mary, with me it’s the kitchens and bathrooms on International. In some countries, the eating and bathing facilities are less than we’d want in a mobile home.

    On Saturday nights I watch this old ’90s Britcom called As Time Goes By with Judi Dench. She lives in a beautiful London townhouse with a nice eat-in kitchen that looks fully equipped except for the fridge. It’s one of those half-size, under-the counter models with a TINY freezer (if any) and holds next to nothing. You see that a lot because they’re used to shopping just about every day. So different from our “drive everywhere” lifestyle.

  11. Shay M says:

    I absolutely love that show. I’m addicted as well

  12. I am/was totally hooked too (can’t watch it from here in Italy). BUT, it’s not what you think it is – I just went through part of the process and blogged about it. Hint – pick the house the least furnished (the stuff’s been moved out for the shoot). Still fun to sneak a peak, though!

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