House Hunters International

House Hunters International (HHI) is my favorite HGTV show. I TiVo every episode, but I like the European ones the best.

Each episode has the same basic “recipe:”
1. American couple (or English speaking, if from somewhere else)
2. Visit three properties and choose one
3. One person of the primary pair is a “negative Nancy” and finds many things to complain about at each property

I still harbor the fantasy that I will be on a future episode with Adrian Leeds in Paris. Maybe…someday….but now my house hunt is in Shanghai, China, and it won’t be with the HHI crew and cameras.

Each HHI show begins the same way….introduce the family, show where they live now; and then meet with the realtor for (what looks like) 5 minutes to discuss their wish list for their new property, and budget.

My Shanghai apartment hunt began with sending an email to the realtor to give them our wish list. But, I did think about HHI when I came up with my list:

  • Centrally located, near public transportation
  • Lots of light
  • Western amenities, such as dishwasher, oven, large fridge
  • Balcony
  • Pet friendly

I also wanted a pool, something you would rarely see on a European HHI show. The main reason we didn’t select this place was because it didn’t have a pool. And was farther from DH’s office.

We didn’t need to discuss budget because they assured us we would only look at apartments that were within DH’s employer’s budget.

But on HHI they typically take people to a “budget busting” property – I think, in part, to show them how expensive it is to get everything on their wish list. Because, some people’s wishlist’s on HHI are absolutely ridiculous, especially relative to budget.

We were supposed to see 9 properties, which I think was going to be too many. We ended up seeing 8 because one of them was occupied. We went back and saw our top two a second time. I wonder….do they get a second look on HHI? If so, we never see that in the final show.

Our Shanghai house hunt begin with two “serviced” apartments. And, it was tough to beat them. A service apartment in Shanghai means you get some of the same services as a hotel; maid service, and weekly linen changes. Both of the serviced apartments were gorgeous! Much nicer than my humble USA home, and absolutely nicer than I could ever afford if the apartment was in Paris.

In the end, we chose the first apartment we looked at. It didn’t have the best light, but it does have two balconies; one of which looks out on a park. Many of the other apartments were on higher floors, and had nice city views; but I didn’t want my view to be of other tall apartment buildings. I like the park, and I really like living across the street from a park.

Finding a place to live is a very stressful part of the process of becoming an expat. I am  happy with our choice and will probably find it difficult to leave in two years.

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