When I say, “we”, I don’t mean me. I mean all those people who are featured on House Hunters International looking for new homes in new countries.
In case you’re not familiar with it, House Hunters International is a television show on the HGTV channel. The premise of the show is simple. People, usually couples but sometimes single people, have chosen to move to a different country than the one in which they are currently living. Most of the time, it’s Americans but sometimes there are Canadians, looking to immerse themselves in a culture different than their own. Most of the people searching for international homes are usually focusing their efforts on countries in Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. Sometimes, there are people looking for homes in far-flung corners of the world we rarely ever hear about. In the history of the show and to my best knowledge, no one has EVER said they were interested in relocating to the U.S. Chew on that for a minute…
I am interested in the show because one day, I would like to live in another country. My preference is Italy but I like to keep my options open for any affordable place in Europe. So I watch and write down realtors’ names and interesting places.
The show centers around people who find a realtor in their newly adopted country. The people searching give the realtor their wish list, their budget and then they go look at 3 different homes that may, or may not, meet their prescribed wish list. After they visit the homes, they make their decision, then we visit them again a few months later and see how happy they are, or not, in their new home in their new country.
The dialogue between the potential renter/buyer and the realtor almost always goes something like this:
Realtor: So, what are you looking for in a home?
Client(s): Well, we need a house in the center of the city with easy access to public transportation, grocery stores, and restaurants. We don’t want a commute longer than 15-20 minutes to work. We want something on the ground floor or with an elevator because we have a dog/child/groceries/bicycle and don’t want to worry about having to climb up and down stairs every time we want to leave the home. We want something with modern amenities but with historical charm. We want an open plan kitchen/living room with an American-sized refrigerator because we entertain a lot. We’ll need a balcony/terrace/garden because we have a dog/child/bicycle/BBQ pit and we entertain a lot. We need 2-3 bedrooms and at least 2 bathrooms because we don’t want to share with our guests. Did we mention we entertain a lot? We need something bright and airy with lots of light. And we need lots of space because WE ENTERTAIN A LOT.
Realtor: So, what’s your budget?
Client(s): Oh…we can’t go over $500 USD (if they’re renting) or $25,000 USD (if they’re purchasing).
Realtor: *Eyes roll to the backs of their head.* Well, that’s a long wish list but I’ll do my best. Then the realtor is interviewed away from his clients and says, “they’re never going to get everything on their wish list.”
Okay. I might have exaggerated the budget amounts but the rest is pretty much word for word how the exchange goes almost every single time.
Americans. We want it all. Hell, we NEED it all. We need it all, all the time and if we don’t get what we want, we bitch about it. I watched a re-run tonight about a couple looking for a home in London and she was bitching about having to carry the baby stroller/groceries up and down 5 steps. I kid you not, 5 frickin’ steps. You would think, to hear them carry on about the stairs on this show that there weren’t millions of people who hadn’t already raised entire families on the 6th floor of a building somewhere in the U.K. or Europe! How is that even possible? How could anyone manage to have babies/doggies/groceries/bicycles and live any higher than the ground floor? It is inconceivable! And the spaces are so tiny! How could anyone ENTERTAIN? After all, we know that all Americans live for the constant company of others. God forbid any of us should ever inhabit anything smaller than 1000 square feet. Where would we put our guests? The guests who must visit us on at least a weekly basis, consistently enough to force us to purchase large homes just to accommodate them.
Honestly, I love this show because it feeds my dreams, but there are a few things I need these prospective home renters/buyers to do.
- Do some damned research on the country in which you have chosen to live. Seriously people, crack open your computer and do some reading! You might learn something.
- Explain to me how you’re going to walk into a realtor’s office and make all these housing demands for the amount of money you are willing to pay. There are lots of cost of living calculators and comparison charts on the internet. Use them!
- Recognize that not everyone values the American need for space. Most of the larger cities in Europe have buildings that have been there for hundreds of years. Rooms and spaces have been chopped up and resized to get as much space as possible and the people who live in those cities are damned glad to have what they have. Get over yourselves!
- Stairs are a fact of life in many British and European countries. Get used to it. Oh, while I’m on the subject, get used to the 4th floor really being the 5th floor so it doesn’t gobsmack you when you’re dragging your ass up that last flight you weren’t expecting to climb. And remember, lots and lots of people have lived in and raised families in buildings with lots of stairs. I’m pretty sure most of them survived.
- Refrigerators are tiny in many places. They tend to eat fresh food that’s in season so giant, American-sized fridges are not the norm. You’ll thank them later.
I bitch when I watch this show. Sometimes, I bitch a lot. My partner can attest to that. However, watching this show is also one of my sincere pleasures. To put myself in the place of some of those people and to see the types of homes that are available to the everyday person who makes that leap to another way of life is fun for me. I envy, and respect, anyone who chooses to shake up their life by putting themselves in a new place with new people and a different language. At the end, it is satisfying to see the newcomers acclimated and happy in their new surroundings. It gives me hope on a personal level, that if and when I actually make that move, I can fumble my way into a new beginning without too much damage. This show also gives me hope on a more global level. It gives me hope that there are fellow Americans out there who want to learn about how other people live and want to experience a different life and speak a different language. Because it is through them, that the rest of the world gets to know us.
I enjoy reading and have blogged in the past about travel and books. My latest blog is a vanity blog. I write about whatever comes to mind, specifically, things I think I need in life. Hope you enjoy!