There is a show that I like to record and watch when I have sole domination of the remote control. I indulge my travel itch by watching HGTV’s House Hunters’ International. If you haven’t seen it, the half hour show follows around folks who are looking for homes overseas. I like seeing the inside of houses in other countries. I like seeing what is important and unimportant to other cultures. I like seeing what catches a foreigner’s attention. And sometimes I just like to laugh at the naive people who are looking for their “dream” home.
For example, there are a few episodes that are filmed here in Costa Rica. The realtors lie… frequently. They will show a young couple a half million dollar property in a very exclusive part of town and describe it as “traditional Costa Rican” in it’s style. Are they serious?? And the foreigners are so gullible. In one episode that is filmed in the surfer town of Jaco, the American buyers ask the realtor, “Why are there bars on all the windows?” Everyone who lives here knows that Jaco is a dangerous, druggie town inhabited by transients and moral-less bohemians living the surfer life-style. It’s a rough town full of bars and night clubs. So when the woman on the screen says, “The bars are there to keep the wild animals out,” we howl in laughter at her double meaning which is completely lost on the wide-eyed buyers.
Sometimes I wish I could give those inexperienced folks some advice. I would tell them to keep these things in mind:
~ You think you want to be in the center of town and not own a car, but have you thought about lugging your groceries home without a vehicle? Have you carried a gallon of milk for over a mile? I don’t care how ecological that lifestyle is, it’s rough on Americans to be without a car.
~ Window bars are there for a reason.
~ Construction will take about 5x as long as you think it will, and it will cost you double what it costs a local family. So think twice before you decide to remodel something.
~ Bathtubs are over rated. Get over them. You will probably only miss having a tub about 3 times per year. It’s not worth crossing a good property off the list just because it lacks a tub. You can bathe the children in Action Packer boxes while they are little.
~ You don’t need granite counter tops or stainless steel appliances to be happy.
~ Walls, windows and doors that are open to a pool or patio area are nice in the day time, but you have no idea what kind of critters will fly into your house once the sun goes down. You might think it’s beautiful, you might think you’ve always wanted indoor-outdoor living, but unless you are prepared to feel like you’re camping in your own house, walk away from that one.
~ A washer and drier should be high on the priority list, but you can do without a dishwasher.
~ Finally, you will not find space like you had in your home back in Texas. There’s a reason why they say everything is bigger in Texas. You do not really need that guest bedroom. Your family won’t come to visit as frequently as the rent check will be due on your oversized house in a far away land.
Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/305212697/”>Stuck in Customs</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Art/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>