Overlook Anthology: House Hunters International

I just returned from visiting my mom for a week.  And like all good moms, she had dvr’d at least 20 House Hunters Internationals for me to gorge on while we hid in the air conditioning…for it ’twas Florida in August. Almost every night, we watched at least three. So I got quite good at imitating the “X” sound effect when the couple eliminate one of the housing choices. I plan on bringing it out at parties.

Quick tutorial: if you don’t know House Hunters, turn on HGTV right now. It will be on. The show features a couple who are looking to buy a home and are shown three options based on their wish list. They go through each house and complain about every little detail and the real estate agent rethinks their career decision. Then the viewer guesses which one they will choose. Then the viewer cusses out the couple because they pick the one that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, you insisted that you had to have three bedrooms so why go with the two bedroom, twenty miles outside of town? Those episodes end with a disdainful “pfft!” from me.

The International version features Americans buying/renting a property overseas. Now I love this show because I want to see what homes look like in other countries. More specifically in Europe. HHI goes everywhere but you see one beach house in Costa Rica, you’ve seen them all. Am I right? So Mom recorded only European episodes. Turns out lots of people want to live in Paris. Who knew?

Which brings me to this:

What I’ve Learned About Americans By Watching House Hunters International

  • All Americans love to cook and must have big kitchens
  • Related: small European half-fridges are ridiculous and worthy of an American’s derision (e.g. “This is the freezer? Well, I can store one ice cube.”)
  • Americans want a classic (French/British/Italian/Spanish/German, etc.) style home that exudes the country’s character
  • Americans want modern conveniences and don’t like dated decor
  • Americans want outdoor space for their dog or child
  • Correction: Americans want a large outdoor space for dog or child that doesn’t normally exist in Europe
  • Americans want to live in the city center, close to all the action
  • Americans don’t want to live in a noisy area
  • Americans need at least one extra bedroom because they are positive that their friends from home will be able to afford to visit often
  • The views from the windows are very important to Americans because I’m assuming that they want to look at Europe through the windows and not go outside

    Now I kid my fellow Americans but those HHI editors do paint us as being a wee bit inflexible and culturally unaware. And yes, I heard that the whole thing is staged and that the home buyers have already chosen their places. But that still doesn’t change the fact that I feel superior to them when they obviously choose the wrong property. Pfft!


6 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you wrote a HHI post. I could read the Downton Abbey posts but couldn’t comment because I don’t watch the show. However, I am all over HHI. Check out the one in Nepal. I never imagined there was a rental market there. I’m with you though. The show does make all Americans look dimwitted and hard-to-please.

      • House hunting safety tip. When you see the Royal Regiment of Engineers installing a temporary generator at the end of the street…. don’t buy.
        Also, when you ask one of the soldiers “Whats that big noise?” and they answer, “Its the guys on the beach trying to make drinking water”, you appreciate the army but don’t buy a house near here – property values are probably quite low.

        • Yeah, construction sites are not idyllic. I wonder how many of the Americans buying overseas don’t research or talk to locals about the ins and outs of neighborhoods, etc.

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