Filming with House Hunters International
A bit of backstory about our move & experience
Last year my family & I were cast in an episode of House Hunters International & did filming here in Stockholm, documenting some of our story moving from the US to Sweden. House Hunters International is one of our favorite shows and we always particularly enjoyed episodes focused on house hunts in Northern Europe so to be featured in an episode ourselves was definitely a special moment.
A year ago, in January 2017, my husband and I were busy on a massive downsizing mission as within 2 weeks we would be moving from New England to Sweden. This move had been in the works for awhile but it wasn’t until December 2016, when my husband received his permanent residence permit for Sweden, that we were able to launch into action. Launch we did and by the first week of February 2017 we were on the ground in Scandinavia, living in a hotel in Malmö with our 3 year old son and 2 cats as we began searching the major cities nationwide for a place to call our first home.
We moved to Sweden with no plans other than what we called our ‘hard reset’. We had no jobs lined up and did not even know what city we would initially move to. Malmö was our initial base camp as I was familiar with the city (it’s my father’s hometown and I had been multiple times) and my husband Mike, after visiting a couple times a few years back when we were living in Germany, liked the region as well.
This was my fourth move to Europe. As a young girl I lived briefly in Germany (Landstuhl) and then in my early 20’s I moved to Sweden, first to Lund and then to Stockholm where I spent a few years working and studying for my Master’s. I left Stockholm for Berlin and then years later moved back to Germany again, this time married and with my husband who was on military orders.
I look back on my life of frequent moving and on my marriage which also has included many geographical transitions and realize nothing perhaps could have prepared us better for the risk and adaptation that this move to Sweden held. No matter how familiar I was with the region, this time I was with my husband, young son, a lot of excitement and a great deal of uncertainty.
We settled on trying out life in Sweden’s capital to begin with as I had an old job (reading and recording books for digital production) that I could return to there and it just seemed like opportunities would be more plentiful in the country’s most populous city. I can recall one of the first times we were in the tunnelbana (subway) system in Stockholm and how tickled I was to see Mike studying the subway map, realizing that this was the place we may very well be adapting to as our first home city in Sweden.
The housing market in Sweden’s major cities can be quite difficult and all you have to do is some light research online to learn about the housing shortage in Sweden’s capital city. Buying is a preferred (and often economically more efficient) option but we simply weren’t ready for that when we moved here. Our ‘hard reset’ hit every level and our budget for rent was definitely impacted. This would be our first time as a family working with such a restrained budget but also apartment hunting. I didn’t experience apartment living until my early 20’s, having grown up in suburban houses, and I was quite excited about returning to it but also increasingly aware of the challenges we were up against, particularly in Stockholm.
Shortly after we moved to Stockholm, Mike began coaching with the local American Swedish football club- the Stockholm Mean Machines. He rapidly became very active with the club, coaching with a few different teams. Later in the year he became head coach for the U15 team and also began officially working for the club for awhile. I worked part time at my old book reading and recording job and began setting up my photography business. In Autumn of our first year here, Mike was offered a job in Project Management with DHL where he currently works.
Real talk: Sweden is not necessarily an “easy” country to move to. Mike was not even able to get a bank account for his first several months here (he needed his official id card which took months), which in the increasingly cashless society that Sweden is becoming can frankly be a pain. Even though I am a Swedish citizen, I had my own challenges in the first couple of months with bureaucracy as for many official procedures you have to be settled and registered at an address. This move honestly required more patience and perhaps even faith than any other move I have had in my life.
Mike and I joke that we are impatient Americans though (more me than him) and when we reflect or chat with people familiar with both our experience and the Swedish system, we realize how much we’ve actually gotten accomplished in our first year here.
And of course even amidst the transition struggles we are able to appreciate the adventure this has been and will likely continue to be. I generally am drawn to greater Scandinavia not only for living but also for travel- I like the weather (yes I love the dark winters!) and overall cleanliness of cities, ease of public transportation and overall quite accommodating aspects in society for family life. Mike appreciated all those aspects as well (although all his commuting for work quickly led to the company providing him with a car) and acclimated very quickly, socially as well which can be among the most challenging things for newcomers- Sweden is not known for extroversion and quick sociability!. I joke that Mike is my Nordic husband and honestly with his great auburn beard now and general look many people already assume that!
Without giving any spoilers to the show (which we won’t even likely see until a few weeks after the original air date on Jan. 18, 2018 in the States) I will say we are still in the apartment we chose in the show! But, we are on the lookout for our next place! Our family is growing (I am almost 8 months pregnant now) and we simply need more space and are also eager to experience a different area (probably closer to Mike’s work).
Filming House Hunters International was definitely a highlight and great experience for us. While our experience on the show was not about us finding our ‘forever home’, it does document one of the most significant moments and transitions in our family’s life to date. The production crew was excellent and enjoyable to spend the long days with. Although we look forward to seeing the ‘finished product’ – the show- I think the experience of doing it will be the most memorable aspect for us.
(scroll down to 10:30 pm for listing of our episode)
Below, some ‘behind the scenes’ snaps from our time filming.
The episode is set to air for the first time in the US on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 10:30pm EST & again three hours later at 1:30am EST.