Hi guys! The time is finally here- I can finally share the secret I’ve been keeping for MONTHS, because our House Hunters International episode is out today!
I’ve already received a billion DMs (okay, like 15, I’m not that popular) about this so I figured a blog post about our experience would be a good idea. I’m hoping to address all the questions we’ve been getting and give you guys the inside scoop on this experience both as a person in general, and as an entrepreneur.. so here we go!
First off: This blog post is all about how we came to be on the HGTV show House Hunters and what the experience was like. If you want to read a more detailed account of our time in Spain, click here.
Our Story In A Nutshell
This year my husband and I made the crazy decision to pack up our lives and move half way across the world to Valencia, Spain. With our busy 2.5-year old in tow, we sold everything in Canada and made the trek to the Mediterranean Coast, where we were lucky enough to live right on the sea for six amazing months with our son. While we weren’t able to stay as long as we had hoped due to family obligations back in Canada, we spent basically the entire time pinching ourselves over our fantasy life- and one of the most surreal experiences we had while in Spain was filming an episode of House Hunters International with HGTV.
How We Got Cast On The Show
I think it’s really important to note here that you don’t have to be anyone super special to get on an HGTV show- you just have to be what they’re looking for at the time. In the case of House Hunters and House Hunters International, the network is producing episodes at an insane pace. When I first fired off an email to their casting department about 18 months ago, I never expected to hear back. We had already seen several episodes filmed in Valencia, so we figured there was no way we would be of interest and honestly, we had both pretty much forgotten about sending that email when it came time to actually move.
We were wrong, clearly. I had provided a rough time frame for our move in my initial email, and when that time rolled around we received an email out of the blue asking if we had followed through on our plans- which we had! I now understand that in order to avoid wasting resources and time, House Hunters International only casts people who have actually moved to their destination of choice- since the show is a reenactment, they then gather all the necessary information about your real life house hunt and create an episode that represents your property search and the realities of moving to your location.
We had to submit a video, Skype with various people working on the show, and send a lot of photos and background information to provide context for our story. We watched an example of successful casting videos that not only made me cringe but also convinced me we were never getting picked… because let’s be honest here, I can be veeeerry awkward. I just can’t bring myself to be ridiculous or over the top for the sake of entertainment- I would honestly rather drink from the toilet than dance on camera wearing matching outfits with Bryn (yes, that was one of the examples.?)
Obviously they didn’t mind me being relatively boring though, because it wasn’t long before we received an offer to film an episode- and after that it was just a matter of submitting a lot of paperwork, setting filming dates, and choosing our outfits (by far the most stressful part, if you ask me!)
How The Show Works
In case you’ve never googled it before, let me be the one to ruin Christmas for you- the entire House Hunters franchise is reenactment, not reality. That means that the property we chose in our episode is the one we had already rented when we got cast, and that we weren’t *quite* as new to Valencia as you would think if you had never seen the show before.
We already knew the show was reenactment- and while I’ve seen some people whining about this online, I have to say that it’s really the only approach that makes sense. The house hunting process is hectic and stressful, especially in a new country. The market in Valencia moved really fast, and I often set up viewings only for the landlords or agents to show up an hour late or not at all. After going through the process of filming I cannot imagine having to actually search for and obtain a home while filming the entire thing- especially with no guaranteed timings or results. We also found that the House Hunters team took all our stories about our real house hunt and translated them into an episode that fairly represented both the market when we were looking and the types of homes we were interested in.
In addition to the potential complications of viewing properties on television, the amount of work that goes into filming these shows is really mind blowing. At the end of the day we were insanely grateful to come back each night to our actual home and fall into our bed… and I think it would have been nearly impossible to manage childcare for Branson and the logistics of filming if we were actually fresh off the plane and staying in temporary housing.
The Filming Experience
Okay, so now you have some context for this whole thing- but what was it really like to film this show? Amazing and exhausting, to sum it up simply. This was such a cool experience that I am SO glad we said yes to. While being on camera is wayyyy outside of my comfort zone, we really enjoyed ourselves and had a great time getting to know our crew. We worked with a director, a camera man, and a sound technician who flew in from the US and were joined by a fixer and a driver from Spain- so in total it was a small group of five people, all of whom were so nice and SO interesting to talk to.
In order to produce one episode, we filmed five days in a row for about 12 hours each day, which would have been tiring in any case- but I was also 10 weeks pregnant. That meant I was nauseous as all hell, so tired I could have cried, about to cry anyway because #hormones, and struggling to function in Valencia’s toasty 37 degree afternoons. So basically, if you see me looking completely miserable in any of the shots, I wasn’t actually upset- just trying my best not to barf all over my husband and/or important Valencia landmarks. (I also have an award-winning resting bitch face, which I have no doubt makes an appearance throughout the episode. ?) Additionally, I’m pretty sure I look like I just ate a Big Mac meal in every scene because just in time for filming, this baby popped out my stomach when I was about four seconds pregnant. FUN.
All that said, I would 100% do this again, because overall the experience was so much fun and such a once in a lifetime thing. House Hunters made every effort to accommodate whatever we needed for Branson, even choosing a trampoline park as one of our family activities. There was only one scene he really struggled to film- mostly because it was ten million degrees outside and he could SEE the park he wanted to play at in the distance. Have you ever tried explaining to a three year old that they have to walk the same 60-foot stretch of concrete seven times without getting to go to the slide at the end? 10/10 DO NOT RECOMMEND FRIENDS, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.
So, How Real Is It?
If you’re a normal person who’s going to be on TV, I honestly think HGTV is the way to go. At worst, you’re going to look slightly neurotic about wallpaper or double vanities or some crap like that, and even if you’re Cringy McCringeface on the show, you’ll probably escape with your reputation and relationships fully intact. The same cannot be said for appearing on gigantic reality shows where people give out roses or get screamed at by nonsensically irate TV chefs, although those are much more likely to catapult you into the public eye. Am I going to get famous from appearing on this show? Definitely not. But I get to keep being a mom, wife, sister, and an overall good human being, so I’ll take the trade off.
Of course, in order to make House Hunters what it is, you’ve got to play up the “conflict” between you and your spouse- because no one watching is aware of all the ACTUAL drama that goes into your international move. You know, stuff like your kid screaming the whole way from Vancouver to London Heathrow (yes, the whole way) and then vomiting all over your AirBnb when you finally arrive in Spain. They don’t see that stuff, so in order to make the show at least mildly engaging, you need to be a lot more stubborn about the things YOU want out of your new home than maybe you otherwise would be. Whatever your differences of opinion over location, price, design, etc – those things form the basis of the show, so you need to be prepared to make them more of an issue than they actually were… Unless you really are that hung up on those things, then your stubborn ass can go au naturel, I suppose!
Was It Worth It?
I’d be lying if I said that my business wasn’t a motivating factor in doing this- but truly, even if not one person googles me after watching this episode, I think this experience was 100% worth the time, effort and energy we put in to it. This pushed us both way outside of our comfort zones and turned out to be a really cool bonding experience… even if some of that bonding was Bryn rubbing my back off camera while I choked down waves of morning sickness! We loved meeting the crew, got to explore some places in Valencia that we hadn’t spent time before, and now we’re going to have this amazing video souvenir of our time there to keep forever. Overall, I consider this an amazing and surreal memento of our time in Spain, which was also amazing and surreal- and that’s a big win in my books.