I don’t see a place for a hot-tub

Published 11:02 am Friday, January 13, 2012

Sheesh, don’t you hate it when people decide to move to another country and make no effort to respect its culture or learn its language?
This is why I can no longer watch HGTV’s ‘House Hunters International.’
In the beginning, this show was an evening ritual for me. Paul and I recorded all episodes and heartily enjoyed sinking back into our sofa, Shiraz in hand, and vicariously lapping up real estate in foreign locales.
If you haven’t seen the show, it generally goes like this: a person or couple, usually American, for either their job or simply for a romantic whim, decide to uproot themselves and even their family and move to a different country: Switzerland, Turkey, Costa Rica, you name it. They then sit down with a real estate agent and are questioned about what’s on their dream list. This usually goes something like this:
“At least three bedrooms, close to the beach, near the shops, and I really want the house to be authentic in its architecture (which means, if its England, a thatched roof cottage; in Barcelona, gothic splendor; in Paris, tall ceilings and deep sash windows.)”
“And what is your budget, please?”
This is where I first become annoyed. Because these neophytes are generally fresh-faced and young, in their early 30s.
“Oh, about $700,000.” they reply.
“What??” I bark, nearly spilling my wine. “Who has that kind of money at that age? What are they, drug dealers?”
“Just watch and stop yelling.” Paul reminds me and rewinds what I’ve just annoyingly talked over to watch again.
To be fair, there are buyers on this show that have only around $100,000, but they’re usually looking in the countryside of Bulgaria, although I immediately pounced on-line upon hearing that one can buy a brand new condo on the Aegean in Turkey for that sum, and for far less, a remote farmhouse in Normandy. Never mind that I already have a mortgage and 3,700 cats, dogs and horses to feed, it’s just the idea of it, you see.
Now comes the fun part: as viewers, we get to watch our potential buyer visit three different homes. Some are dumps, some are just drop-dead fabulous. Take, for example, the wealthy San Diego couple who wanted a place in Italy. Striding inside a renovated home which had once, in its 400-year history, been a monastery, we are treated to exposed rock walls, gleaming hardwood floors, arched doorways, tall windows set within 4-foot thick walls. Just perfection, I tell you, and then:
“Well, it doesn’t have central air, and this area is so remote that I don’t think anyone here speaks English.” whines the wife to the realtor.
“And I don’t see a place for a hot-tub,” agrees the husband.
“What the hell do you want a hot-tub for?” I explode. “You’re in Italy, for heaven’s sake! You can stroll through the lemon groves and walk into the village and sit at an outdoor cafe and have a glass of wine! You can.”
“Shh!” said Paul, rewinding once again.
“Is it possible to put in central air?” asks the wife.
“NO!” I yell. “No, it’s not possible, you pine cone! It’s a medieval fortress! You cannot put in central air. Go back to America and live on a cul-de-sac. You don’t deserve to live in Italy!”
“Oy,” sighed Paul, getting up to refill his glass.
This particular episode ended with the couple deciding to buy, for $1 million dollars, an ancient ruin on top of a hill, overlooking the Amalfi Coast. With no interior and crumbling outer walls, it would require at least as much to renovate. And to top it off, I called out to Paul, who had now retreated to his office to read a good book, how could they be so stupid as to fail to realize that the only access to the ruin was 300 steps straight up from the narrow winding road, far, far, below?
“How do they think they’re going to get supplies carried up there? There’s no driveway, no possible other route. Do they have any idea what it’s going cost to haul concrete and lumber and heavy equipment up there? Talk about more money than sense. These people are out of their minds!”
I can’t wait for tonight’s episode!

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox