House Hunters International

You guys, I’m so behind on this whole television thing…don’t get me started, really, BUT I just started watching House Hunters International last month and am a total addict junkie. Every night, I can’t wait until the kids are sleeping so D and I can hop in bed and watch several episodes back-to-back. Addict junkie, I say!

First off, I mean, it’s AMAZING AND LIFE-CHANGING. How I lived without it for 37 years, I’ll never know. Some cities are so much less expensive than I thought! Some cities are insanely more expensive than I thought! Some cities are amazingly beautiful, and some make me want to stab my eyes out with a fork! Most importantly, I could listen to Brits say the word “property” all the live long day. “This is such a lovely prah-pah-tea.” “We’re looking for a 3-bedroom prah-pah-tea.” Say it with me, PRAH-PAH-TEA.

Secondly, I have a life list. (I’ve never shared it here. Yes, I know one of the best things about a life list is to SHARE it with others here on the interwebs, but I am a wuss and I don’t want to, ya hear?) One of my life list goals is to move abroad for at least a year. I am really wanting this to happen within the next 5 years.

(This very moment, my mom is yelling upstairs to my dad, “Ron! She’s really lost it this time! She wants to move to EUROPE. Hell’s bells!”)

(She’s never used the term “hell’s bells” before, but let’s just go with it.)

So! Europe. Want to get there soon, while the children are young. Of course, there are some technicalities to work out, like JOBS and SCHOOLS and NOT KNOWING ANYONE and NOT SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE, but hell’s bells! We appreciate a nice challenge.

Tops on my list right now – Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands. (All ridiculously expensive, right? I mean, good god, Geneva! $10,000/month for a decent apartment?) Spain, France, and Italy are up there, of course, but as you can see by my DVR, I have lots more research to do.

Are any of you all HHI junkies as well? Let’s embrace.

(My other favorite show, which I can’t believe I’m admitting to you, is STORAGE WARS. Yuup! Orange County in the house!)

  • Rebecca

    January 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I highly recommend it if you can! We’ve been in Spain for 3 1/2 years (kiddos 9 and 4) and it has been a wonderful adventure! We’ve been able to travel all over Europe and expose our kids to many different cultures. Of course ours was courtesy of the U.S. Navy which isn’t really an option for you, but we have no plans to move back to the continental U.S. anytime soon!

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Rebecca, I might have LOTS of questions for you. Due to the climate and learning Spanish (opposed to another language that’s not used as widely in the US), Spain is tops on my list!

  • kristen [rage against the minivan]

    January 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Living abroad is a HUGE goal of mine, too. Let’s do it. We can just make a ton of money blogging.


    (But seriously . . . )

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Let’s do it!

  • Mama Bub

    January 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    85 recordings!

    The thing about the American House Hunters is that I’m so filled with rage at the housing prices in almost every city they feature. They’ll be cruising through a GIANT PALACE with an asking price of $325,000 and they’ll cringe and go, “It’s just a bit out of our price range.” And then I fly through the TV and scream at them that they just don’t know how good they have it. Do not ask me what we paid for our dumb house or I will weep. WEEP.

    This doesn’t really happen to me with the international version, for whatever that’s worth.

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Oh, don’t get me started on our housing prices. RIDIC. That’s why I’m so shocked at what we could get for our money abroad in some places…

    • Rebecca

      January 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Totally. “5 bedrooms and $140,000! But my budget is $135,000! Guess this one won’t work out.”

      Oh — and my other pet peeve with the domestic HH — “LOVE THE STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES AND GRANITE COUNTERTOPS.” Always.

      This is why my Indiana in laws will never understand why we paid what we did for our humble mid-century pad in the bay area.

  • Kristen

    January 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Yep, I’m a total junkie as well. I’m obsessed with a few specific categories. First, the insanely expensive, incredibly tiny apartments (like Paris! Have you seen that one, with the itsy bitsy room?) which always make me feel SO GOOD about where I live. And then, you know, I love the insanely expensive tropical ones, where they’re buying, like, an island. And then, my very favorites are the ones that I consider true research, which are the ones that I can actually envision living in. Most of them are beach houses in tropical climates, but there have been a few cities that have made the list.

    Once again, I wish we lived closer. It’s even more fun to watch with friends while drinking wine!

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      For some reason, I’ve just never felt a huge affinity for France. Well, take that back. Paris, specifically. I bet the French countryside would be amazing, though.

  • Pam

    January 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    This show does NOTHING to help curb my wanderlust. It’s BAD.

    I have living in different places on my LifeList, too! Because the kids are older/in school now, I’d like to just do it for a few summers – both in other cities in the US and other countries. Enough for them to realize people “live differently” in other places.

    And for me to gorge on great food, shopping and sites. Natch. :)

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Yes, maybe I should start out with a summer or two…I’m all LET’S GO RIGHT NOW. ;)

  • Roxanna

    January 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    What about Vienna? We’ll live in Vienna eventually. We can be expats together! (Hi! I sound crazy. But we really will live in Vienna someday, so you better visit.)

    My best friend lives in Berlin and I’m soo jealous of her life. I’ve lived in Spain and it’s fabulous. But Rome is the city of my dreams. I worked for French people, so we can talk about that anytime you want.

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Oh, Vienna. VIENNA. Would die to live there. Let’s move next year!! Come on!

      I have to say, Spain is tops on my list, mainly due to the climate and the fact that Spanish would be the obvious second language choice, right?

      Even though I minored in Italian, I don’t see Italy as the place we’ll end up. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t. Weird. If I had to pick between France, Italy and Spain, it would definitely be Spain.

  • Ash

    January 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    To say that House Hunters International is my crack would be an understatement. Every time they show an exotic place I’m always like “LETS MOVE NOW!”

    Yes, capital letters and all.

    But really, hello wanderlust.

  • Amanda @ Ramblings of an Empty Mind

    January 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Love, love, love the show. I am actually jealous that you have THAT many episodes on your DVR.
    I’m also jealous of the fact that you get the most recent episodes, we’re a little behind here in Canada. http://www.welivewhereweare.com/2011/10/secret-revealed.html – a blog I read…actually had HHI follow them on their move from London to Melbourne…the episode has been on in the US already.
    And yes, I would also love to spend some time living abroad, just don’t really know where, too many locations that tempt me. :)

  • sizzle

    January 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I love that show and the regular House Hunters (it speaks to where I am in my life right now). The reg HH show always surprises me with how CHEAP it is to live in other parts of the country. But yea, I don’t want to live in Florida. (Sorry, Floridians!)

    We were discussing this show with our real estate agent and she said a client of hers had applied to be on it. Apparently they require you to have already purchased your house and then when your segment is scheduled you have to set up two other viewings plus the one of the house you bought for when the camera crews come out. I don’t think you get any monetary compensation either- maybe like a new bedroom set. Weird, right?

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      I figured you had to have already rented/bought the place beforehand…it just doesn’t really make sense. But the new bedroom set??? Totally weird!!

  • Carolie

    January 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Maybe Gabrielle from designmom.com will give the scoop on her experiences with HHI? I loved the Blair family episdoe!

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      I can’t believe that out of 85 episodes on my DVR, Gabby’s wasn’t one of them! Still waiting to see that one…

  • Jennifer

    January 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I discovered both of these shows this fall and I love, love, love them! The downside is that we don’t have cable so I have to time my gym visits just right, wait until they are online/on Netflix, or we go to our friend’s house and make them have HHI marathons!

  • Michelle

    January 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    We are a cable-less household, but I got addicted to Storage Wars on Netflix. LOVE it. I’m going to have to see if HHI is online!

  • geri

    January 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I love that show and watch it from time to time and I always laugh at americans wanting to love in europe when most europeans are moving to the US, inc us who made the move a year ago from the UK (because of my husband’s job). I’ve also lived in france, south africa and the french swiss border have settled in the US the easiest. I think most americans will be shocked to find out how unwelcoming europeans are and how claustrophobic life in european cities can be. I was coincidently talking about this to my friend who dreams of living in paris. There’s me dreaming of living in SoCal!! I think it’s important to experience different cultures but don’t forget that the grass isn’t greener on the other side :)

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm


  • Seriously Sassy Mama

    January 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    It is nice to watch house hunters international and dream. Oh some of those places are awesome. I love American Pickers. My husband is a storage wars junkie.

  • francie

    January 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    i watched 5 episodes of storage wars last night! barry is my absolute favorite, i enjoy his pizzazz.

  • jen

    January 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Home exchange is always an option. It wouldn’t necessarily be a year-long commitment, but it could give you a feel for a place. Basically, you swap homes (internationally) with another family for a set amount of time. A friend of mine from Miami swapped for a month in Spain and had a great experience. Here is just one website for such exchanges: http://www.homeexchange.com/ Good luck as you sort through your options!

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks, Jen!

  • Ninotchka

    January 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    OMG I just posted on Twitter about this the other day. I’ve watched on and off for years but this past holiday break it was like CRACK to me and now HGTV is pretty much always on (if the TV is on at all). This from a self-proclaimed non-TV watcher. Um, yeah.

  • Ninotchka

    January 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Oh, and yeah, if I had a “life list”, living abroad would be on top. In fact, I called that my new “American Dream” in the aforementioned tweet. ;)

  • Amti'b

    January 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    One of my many fantastic shows!! Look for designmoms show, not into france, but their house makes me think……

  • Lucy

    January 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I know someone who was on HHI and unfortunately the whole thing is faked. Kind of blew my mind when I found out.

    • whoorl

      January 5, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      That’s what Sizzle was saying above. Regardless, I LOVE the show, fake or not!

  • Sabrina

    January 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Do it!! We lived in Amsterdam for two years before our oldest kiddo arrived (she was born here in the US). The Netherlands rocks – the Dutch speak perfect English, but you still get the experience of living in a non-English speaking country (the downside is that neither of us learned to actually speak Dutch, but could both read and understand someone speaking Dutch). Great, great experience and would move there (or anywhere in Europe) again in a heartbeat, especially now that we have kids (we were able to travel to pretty much every country in Western Europe). My husband’s work has the equivalent to a foreign exchange program (never would have expected that from an accounting firm!), so hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage again in the next few years. Much easier to do if your employer is paying to relocate you, but would definitely be worth doing on your own. Now I’m off to set my DVR. Good luck!

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 8:24 am

      We had friends who lived in Amsterdam and loved it. I think D and I definitely need to visit soon!

  • Courtney

    January 5, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Storage Wars is a guilty pleasure of mine as well!

    “Hey Brando! There’s a 20 dollar bill right there!”

  • sophie

    January 6, 2012 at 1:21 am

    If you have any questions about Denmark, I’d be happy to help! Also, I’m curious why Denmark is at the top of your list?

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Architecture, landscape, lots of things intrigue me about Denmark! I sometimes wonder if it’s just a tad bit too northern, light and climate-wise. Would a Southern Californian be able to hack it? ;)

      • sophie

        January 8, 2012 at 7:29 am

        Granted, the winters are dark! But we cozy up indoors with candles – the amount of candles the Danes go through always seems to surprise foreigners:-) Climate-wise, the winters vary wildly. For the past two years we’ve had snow and sub-zero temperatures (Celsius) from November to March. This year, not a snowflake in sight so far, and temperatures up to 10 degrees Celsius. The summers aren’t exactly tropic, but lovely light-wise, with only a few dark hours from around midnight to 4 a.m. The language isn’t the easiest to learn, but it can be done! In the mean time you’ll do just fine with English. The are only about 5 million of us, so it’s not financially feasible to dub films and TV, so everything is just subtitled, which means that everyone and their granny understand English perfectly well.

  • Stefanie

    January 6, 2012 at 3:38 am

    I’m from Switzerland (Berne) and I’m very sure that you could find a family that will swap apartements with you in no time!
    In my neighborhood lives a family from the USA who just extended their stay from one year to two years. They have older children that attend school, but the parents have no problems to get around speaking English. You can totally do this!
    My husband and I lived for almost three years in Northern California, and it was such a great experience to get out of our comfort zone, to learn a new language and have a every-da-life in another country. Go for it!

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 8:24 am

      I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….thanks, Stefanie. I might have some questions from you down the road…

  • Courtney

    January 6, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I’m a fan of Super Why! myself… :)

  • Amy Lewis Wright

    January 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I have been telling Chris for years that I am a misplaced European. I’m practically begging him to consent to a move to Europe. I’ve got my eye on Switzerland or France, but I’m not picky. Beggars can’t be choosers! I adore HH International and have watched it for years. It fuels my fire. Good luck with your quest…Maybe some day we will be sipping a latte in a little european cafe together :)

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Switzerland! Let’s do it! Maybe we could share a 10,000/month rent… ;)

      • mick

        January 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

        i lived in Geneva (on and off) for 15 years. It is a great place to live because you are so centrally located and it is relatively cheap to travel. But man, it’s not an easy task. It’s a tough country to crack…

  • Jen

    January 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Traveling in Spain for a month right now: absolutely beautiful, have found the people friendlier and more helpful than in France, but start your Spanish lessons now! Seriously struggling! Super family friendly too!

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

      I’m scared about Spanish. Don’t know a lick!

  • Jen

    January 6, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I spent a summer living in Spain, and it is incredible. I always say I left a piece of my heart there. I was just west of Madrid, but traveled all over the coutry. My husband and I went to Barcelona last year, and he fell in love, too!

    Everything in Europe is more expensive than here, and in Spain, particularly the utilities. However, my husband and I just got back from and extended trip to Scandinavia, and we were just blown away at the costs. Norway was by far the worst, but Sweden was fantastic to see, so easy to get around, was a great quality of life. As a couple without kids, we also loved Copenhagen, like LOVED.

    I share your distaste for France. Even Paris. I think its maily the communication barrier. As a spanish speaker, I feel most comfortable in any contry that speaks spanish, and even though I can semi-read French, I can never relax. We had no lanuage problems in Scandianvia, and even came home with a few new vocabulary words! Everyone speaks english, so you will have no problems there.

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

      This is super helpful! Thanks, Jen!

  • Jessica

    January 6, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I just wanted to say that I love the site redesign.

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Thank you, Jessica! Me too. :)

  • jora

    January 6, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Hi! Yes, this is huge on our list as well. In fact, (sorta) currently working on it!! B and the kids got portuguese/e.u. citizenship in fact to make thinks (hopefully) a bit easier?? It will almost for sure be Italy though for us. It’s kinda scary but exciting too! And we want to do it when the kids are little as well….easier to take them at that point than when they are unwilling teenagers, right? ;-)

    • whoorl

      January 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Oh, you of all people shouldn’t be scared! You’ve already put down some roots with your summer travels. I wish we had those experiences under our belt, as we pretty much know NOTHING. Sometimes it’s just good to close your eyes and jump in, right? Right? ;) Where in Italy are you considering?

  • Sam Malone

    January 6, 2012 at 11:23 am

    You just named two of my favorite shows! HHI is such a guilty pleasure of mine, it’s so amazing to see some of the architectural details and culture in houses and apartments abroad.

  • Sasha

    January 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I just want to know how you have so much space on your DVR???? I am jealous :)

  • Haley

    January 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I’ve lived in the same city (OKC WHAT UP?) all my life…basically the same zip code…I’ve traveled some and been to Europe but basically becuase I’m the most boring human alive….I LIVE FOR THIS SHOW! I’m right there with you!

  • Colleen

    January 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    We could totally share DVRs. We just got cable back after a 3 year long hiatus. It is like crack! House Hunters International, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, any of the AMC shows. And not 1, but at least 2 cooking show channels. Holy crap! I may not get anything done this year due to my new BFF, cable TV.

    But my one beef with HH International is that I wonder who the hell are these people that they have the job, life, financial means to go to these cool places. What are they doing that I have not yet figured out? I need their job, please. Sign me up.

  • Kathryn

    January 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    My husband and I are living in Paris for a few years right now and I cannot even count the number of times someone told us to watch HHI in the months leading up to our move. I still haven’t seen it (we didn’t have cable in the U.S.) but am dying to, especially after apartment hunting in Paris.

    I love it here and we are really happy that we made this move. I spoke Spanish (conversationally) when we moved and am learning French while we are here. It’s occasionally frustrating, but 90% of the people I run across speak English and are very patient with my beginner French. I had previously lived in northern Spain for a few months, this has been a much easier transition for a lot of reasons. We plan to move back to the U.S. in 2 – 3 years, but I would recommend moving abroad for anyone that is interested and can find a way to make it work.

    • whoorl

      January 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Thank you!

  • elaine

    January 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Sounds like you could do what Jordan Ferney did. Maybe you follow her blog and already know her story. If not, here’s the link: http://ohhappyday.com

  • Linda

    January 7, 2012 at 1:50 am

    We moved from Orange County to Italy last summer. My husband was offered an assignment near Venice and I quit my job, packed up our two kids (5 and 2) and off we went. It was super scary (a lot of “agh what if we hate it?!”) and the first weeks were an adventure since none of us speak any Italian. It’s an amazing experience though and we would do it again in a heartbeat. I won’t lie, I miss simple things like grocery stores open late and In-N-Out, but seeing how much my kids are learning and experiencing, it’s all worth it. Oh and the gelato is an added perk!

    I lived in France and China before getting married but this was our first experience of living abroad with kids. Italy is very kid-friendly but I’ve also heard great things about Spain. Our dream city is Barcelona and we hope to live there someday. Please tell me there will still be Whoorl from Europe. I love your site!

    • whoorl

      January 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Of course, and thank you! (And I might need to hit you up for some ideas/advice regarding the move in the future!)

  • berlin hair baby

    January 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I’m leaving europe and coming back to the usa :-) my advice is a scandinavian country (denmark or sweden..norway is really out of control expensive). they have an excellent level of english and really good schools. also you would love the design and aesthetic. not a big fan of switzerland (visiting yes, but living no). let me know if you want me to put you in touch with american friends living in scandi. xo bhb

    • whoorl

      January 10, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Oh, YOU KNOW I’ll be hitting you up for all kinds of advice and BHB wisdom!! xoxo

  • Bryanna

    January 11, 2012 at 5:05 am

    I moved to London from Canada 2.5 years ago. It was hard and scary at first, but I can’t imagine never having moved here. I think if you don’t at least look into it you will regret it. It doesn’t sound like the UK is even on your list, but my husband recently started a work contract in Bern, Switzerland and he seems to really like it there. I say, “he” because my passport is STILL with the Home Office and I have not been able to visit him yet (he flies home on weekends so it’s not so bad). It is very expensive (even by UK standards). My husband buys his groceries in the UK and brings them over in his suitcase, but he’s a special kind of “thrifty”. At this point, I can’t give you a personal perspective on Switzerland, but if my passport arrives in the next couple of weeks I’ll be heading over for a skiing holiday. He was able to sublet a small studio apartment for $1500/month. So if you’re willing to squeeze your 4 person family into one room, it could be very affordable :)

    However…if I were you, I’d choose Spain!

  • Olivia

    January 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Oh yeah, love HH International! One thing I love about it, especially if the house hunters are not from the U.S., is how unspoiled they are when it comes to the size of the property and the finishes (no one complains about not having granite counter tops). Some of the U.S. searchers make me roll my eyes, “I want all the comforts of my previous home, but I also want charm.” Good luck with that. The prices though, wow. I think I saw that one where a couple had to spend a minimum of $10K per month just to get a two bedroom in Switzerland. That is nuts! What kind of jobs do they have?

  • Carrie

    January 12, 2012 at 1:39 am

    Okay don’t judge but I’ve been watching this into the wee hours of the night for the past few years. No jokes. I’m like an addict that falls off the wagon, gets on, falls off, rinse and repeat (that one’s for you espesh). I lie there for hours afterward imagining all the places I’d like to live a much more simple life. Or one in Paris with a dinky apt filled with boho tchotchkes and Isabel Marant pieces, but whatev. Send pills.