Our Experience on House Hunters International

In case you missed it, at the end of last year Thaddeus and I were on HGTV’s House Hunters International! Our episode is Season 161, Episode 2!

https://www.hgtv.com/…/episodes/brussels-without-a-net

Thanks to everyone who watched our episodes, shared their opinion of our show, and cheered us on during this 30-minutes of ‘fame’!   

We did not get to see the show before it aired, so watched it along with everyone else.  After four full days of filming, we were not sure what version of reality would be edited into a 30-minute TV show, so we were excited but nervous to see how the show would turn out!  In the end we were happy with this episode, laughed a lot, and enjoyed having another unique experience in our life abroad! 

In this post, I will try to answer the questions people have asked me about being on the show and tell you a little bit more about our experience! 

How did we get on the show? 

House Hunters Talent Scouts originally reached out to me by email, while Thaddeus and I were living in Korea.  At the time, I was doing a lot of blogging and writing for several different publications; so I imagine that is how they found us. They asked if we would be interested in being on the show.  I have watched House Hunters for years and even watched a few episodes when preparing myself to move to Korea….but when I mentioned being on the show to Thaddeus, at the time he said he was not interested.  He was also still in the Army, so our schedule was a bit more unpredictable.  The casting agent told me to stay in touch, and the idea stayed in the back of my head, but I never reached out

While we were living in the Philippines, and beginning to prepare for our move to Brussels, two talent agents reached out to me- this time on Instagram-believe it or not! I thought about it again and decided I wanted to do it!  After seven international moves, it was time to try something new.  I told Thaddeus I was interested in pursuing it and after some discussion, he decided he was in!   We met with the talent team and set up our show!  Following this, we had several additional skype calls, filled out a questionnaire about ourselves and filmed a short home video about our life. A few small clips of that even made it to the show!

Filming Schedule & Experience

Usually House Hunters International shoots for five days.  Due to the pandemic, our shooting time was condensed to four days.  These were long days.  We usually began around 8:00 in the morning and ended around 9 or 10 at night! We are lucky for the long sunny European summers so the cast could continue filming. 

Our first day, we spent the majority of the day filming our back story where Thaddeus and I talked about our lives, experience living abroad, and house hunting preferences.  Thaddeus and I had never been on TV, so I was a little nervous I would come across very awkward.  I had vivid flashbacks from a short interview, I did when studying abroad in Italy, where I talked in a monotone voice the entire time.  Luckily- that did not happen and the interview portion of the filming was quite easy, even fun!  Thaddeus and I really enjoyed reflecting on our life together and considering the questions our producer asked us. We even generally agreed ;). 

We met our producer, Ilinca Neagu, the day prior to shooting and she immediately felt like a friend.  She is extremely talented and made being on camera really comfortable and the whole interview process just like having a conversation.  Thaddeus and I were interviewed together and separately as well.  When we were interviewed separately, the other person was not in the room, so we could talk all the crap we wanted about the other person….Kidding!  

This part of the show is when I am wearing the blue wrap around dress and Thaddeus is wearing the blue polo. 

That night was Thaddeus favorite part of shooting and a dream come true for him!  We made our way to Waterloo where the crew shot us touring the historic battlefield.  We had the place to ourselves, and Thaddeus had a great time telling me all about the historic events that happened there (if you couldn’t tell from the footage), while they followed us by camera and drone. I loved every minute of his history lesson, if you couldn’t tell from my not-at-all-sarcastic interest in it during the show.

 In all seriousness, we both have loved visiting Waterloo and have spent a lot of time biking and exploring the area, so it was really exciting to get to film there and have the place to ourselves.   I think Thaddeus also may now secretly want a new profession in documentary military film commentating.  Any casting agents need a guy? 

After the first day, we also really got to know the crew and were already having a great time with them.  The cinematographer, Lucas Ruyssen, even showed us how to fly his drone and trusted Thaddeus to try out his camera rig! He was a one man show in capturing all the footage for the episode both on the ground and in the air when operating his drone! It was so impressive to see this crews talent live and so much fun when they showed us a little bit about the equipment!

The three remaining days we visited the three properties that were on the show, and filmed some more on location experience shots!  For these, we visited some local restaurants, parks and the Atomium.  These were a lot of fun to shoot and we had a great time with our real estate agent Chun, goofing around between set, exploring the properties and eating some delicious meals! 

As you can imagine, with these long days, there are lots of moments that didn’t make the cut. In the third property, with the garden, we really goofed around. The crew hid in a closet and jumped out at us, we joked about the place being haunted and struggled to gain composure as the three of us had a full discussion with a giant bust, located in the home, which Chun referred to as the landlord. Sadly none of these shots made the show but maybe HHI needs to start including a bloopers reel!

Is the show real? 

House Hunters is shot quite realistically.  There is no wardrobe, hair or makeup. There is a small camera crew that uses natural lighting and follows you through the experience. The commentary is all of your own, but the crew sometimes does make suggestions. Since spaces are small in apartments, there is only room for one camera, so we often shot scenes multiple times to get different angles and close ups.

We were able to suggest locations we wanted to shoot in, and visit places that are right in our backyard. It’s such a popular series that this is season 162 and to make this happen 4 episodes are being filmed EVERY DAY around the world! 

House Hunters is a reenactment, so although our house hunting experience wasn’t exactly what you saw on TV, the general principles of the show are true. Of course, you know from my blog, the entire back story is accurate and we are living in the home we selected!  We were also happy to hear our friends and family say that the episode depicted our genuine personalities. 

 

Do you get paid?

Yes!  If you are on House Hunters you are given a flat stipend, but sadly the show didn’t make us rich or famous…yet…;)  

Our house & Life in Brussels 

We moved to Brussels in January of 2020.  Between the Philippines and Brussels, we spent several months in America to change our international visas, and do some work in our home country.   Our first month in Brussels we lived in a service apartment, which was very dark and stuffy, so we really looked forward to moving! In total, we saw seven properties.  The house we are living in, we originally found online, prior to our real estate agent showing it to us. It was the first property we viewed, and although we liked several of the properties we saw, after a short conversation Thaddeus and I were pretty much in agreement right away that this was the best apartment for us! 

We moved into our apartment and a week later Belgium went into full lockdown.  The day before everything shut down, a small air shipment, with personal items Thaddeus’ company allowed us to ship over, arrived to our home, so we were very fortunate with the timeline, and to get these little comforts since (little did we know) we’d be spending SO much time at home.  That week also allowed us to get situated to live comfortably, which was lucky since all businesses closed quite quickly after we moved!

Our last four moves: Washington DC, the Philippines, (the temporary stop in Philadelphia) and now Brussels have all been for Thaddeus’ job.  He works in the health care industry and is part of a rotational program, which is why we have moved quite often.  When we moved to Brussels, I didn’t have a job secured.  Being a teacher, and moving mid school year, I was quite stressed about it! I had also had trouble getting working permission when we lived in Europe in the past.  Luckily, I was able to find a school that was hiring mid-year and secured a job just weeks after moving.  

Since then, Thaddeus and I have both changed jobs.  Thaddeus is still with the same company, but now working in the COVID vaccine.  As you can imagine, he has been very busy.  I have also changed jobs to one of the European Schools housed in Brussels.  I made this move because I felt the position offered aligned more closely with my credentials. I am also very happy to have the opportunity to teach in this unique school model. Many of my classes have even watched the show!  We are both happy in our house, careers and life together here in Brussels, but living abroad during a pandemic does comes with its challenges. 

It has been hard moving to a new city and within months going into lockdown, but luckily, we already had some friends living here, and I was able to quickly make some new ones when things were open before social bubbles took effect. Our experience has been very different than what we had expected, but we are fortunate to have had a beautiful spring and summer in Brussels where we could spend a lot of time exploring nature and have a lot of quality time together.

We are lucky that Brussels is filled with parks.  During the first lockdown we were not allowed to leave our district, so our weekends were spent on long walks and bike rides.  Since then, rules have eased and we are allowed to explore the countryside and the many charming cities around Belgium. We also have been able to squeeze in a few socially distanced European trips, which were great!  We are hoping soon things get back to normal so we can enjoy the apartment with friends, have international visitors, and properly explore our new home! 

We are also lucky with the apartment we picked.  Neither of us had worked from home, often, before this, so having a home office was not important to us. Having two floors really has helped, when we’re both working from home and the patio has been a great space!  This spring and summer was the warmest in Brussels history and we loved soaking up the sun!  I even had my very own patio garden that I grew from seeds during the pandemic! 

What’s Next?

For now we are content in Brussels and not sure how long we will stay.  Initially this was a one-year assignment, but both our jobs have been extended.  We are not sure what the future will hold but hopefully there will be more possibilities for travel soon so we can really make the most of our time in Europe…and maybe there will even be another international move sometime soon…

Have more questions?  Write them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them!  

ELSEwHERE

I've been living abroad for a decade now! My travels have lead me to visit over 80 countries, marry a fellow globetrotter, and reside in 8 countries in four different continents. I am currently based in Brussels, Belgium! Join me as I focus on sustainable budget friendly travel and giving back while living abroad!

One thought on “Our Experience on House Hunters International

  • January 11, 2021 at 1:21 am
    Permalink

    Thanks so much for giving us the inside scoop, and all the great photos! We hope to visit soon so that we can enjoy your new home with you guys.

    Reply

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