House Hunters International (Panama) – Jim, Lisa, & Faith

House Hunters International (Panama) - Jim, Lisa, & FaithAny House Hunters International fans out there?!  Of course, you are!

Anybody a fan of Jim, Lisa, and Faith (that’s us!)?  Ok, fine – maybe not of me, but at least Lisa and Faith?  Hopefully, you are – that’s why you come to this site in the first place, right?!

How about Panama?  Maybe even specifically Boquete?  Yeah, that’s us, too.

But wouldn’t it be even more fun to squoosh all those cool things together and come up with something fun?

Well, have I got great news for you!  Your favorite family is starring in an episode of House Hunters International where we choose our place in beautiful Boquete, Panama!

To top it off, the episode is ready for your viewing pleasure!  More on that later in this post.

But first, let’s talk about how all of this came to be…

What is House Hunters International?

If you’ve been living under a rock, perhaps you’ve never heard of House Hunters International.  Well, aren’t you lucky because I’m about to bring you into the current day and age!

House Hunters International is actually a spinoff from the show House Hunters on HGTV that premiered in 1999.  The original House Hunters show is still running strong today with well over 2,200 episodes!  That’s mind-boggling if you ask me.

The show features folks looking to buy or rent a new place.  They talk about what they’re looking for and what they don’t want.  You then watch as their agent takes them to three different properties to decide on their place to live.

That’s it – nothing crazy but it does make for some fun and interesting TV.  Clearly, that’s the case considering how popular the show is after all these years.

House Hunters International came out in 2006 and also airs on HGTV.  The direction of the show is almost exactly the same as the original with one obvious difference… it’s focused on people looking to move out of their home country to somewhere else in the world.

According to IMDb, House Hunters International also has over 2,200 episodes so they seem to be doing just fine as well!

Our episode is Season 157, Episode 3.  Wait, did you hear what I just said – Season 157!  Now that’s a show that’s crushing it!

How did you end up on the show?

Ok now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about how we got on the show…

As my regular readers know, part of our plan after reaching financial independence and retiring from my job was to move to a lower cost-of-living location.  And after visiting Panama in 2017, we decided it was the country we wanted to move to.  We also decided that Boquete was the city where we wanted to live in.

So once we started making a plan and letting family and friends in on it, the conversation went it two different directions.  First and foremost, most people thought we were nuts.  However, everyone seemed to say the same thing to us regardless…

You guys should be on House Hunters International – your story is perfect for them!

Honestly, I blew it off every time someone would say that.  But after months and months of this, my wonderful friend Amy from Life Zemplified and Women Who Money gave me no excuse… she sent me a link on how to apply.

I decided that maybe it would be worth it and a fun thing to do.  We’d be retired, why not?!

So I sent in an email with our story… and then I forgot all about it.  I didn’t hear anything for 8 months.  And then suddenly I got an email asking if we’d still be interested in being on the House Hunters International show.  Heck yeah!!

We went back and forth, did some casting calls remotely (probably to make sure I wasn’t too ugly for the show!), and then got it all lined up.

If you regularly watch the show, you might notice that they normally don’t make kids a big part of it.  However, Faith was really excited about the whole thing.  So we pushed for her to be a part of the episode and they were actually all about it.

That made us even more excited about our shoot – both in our hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and looking at different places in Boquete, Panama.

House Hunters International premise

House Hunters International (Panama) - Jim, Lisa, & Faith

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll share with you the wording that HGTV is using for the premise of this episode:

Season 157, Episode 3

Lower Costs, Higher Living in Boquete, Panama

A young family aggressively saves and looks to make a new start in Boquete, Panama. She prefers a larger house with three bedrooms, but he’s more budget-minded and wants something smaller that’s closer to town.

Oh my gosh, a difference of opinions – I wonder what’s going to happen?!  I’m biting my nails in anticipation!!!

For all my friends in the personal finance community, you’ll be happy to know that they were excited about our money story.  They liked our backstory about reaching financial independence and retiring early.  Will that be a part of the episode?  Guess we’ll find out!

As you’d expect, they shot footage of us in Cleveland, Ohio for our backstory.  Then when we were in Panama, we toured and filmed three places for rent in Boquete.  I have to admit, there were pros and cons to each place.

More importantly, we all learned how hard it is not to “spike the camera”.  That was a term we weren’t familiar with previously.  Spiking the camera is when you look directly at the camera during filming.  I’m sure you know that actors aren’t supposed to do that during filming, but it takes a while to be able to pull that off successfully.

But really, the most important part of this shoot was that I worked my infamous flip-flops that led us to financial freedom into the entire episode.  Sometimes all that matters is staying true to your frugality! 😉

When does your House Hunters International episode air, Jim?

Now we’re talking!  I love it when you get to the point in asking your questions!


How’s that for a direct answer?!  Ok, ok, here’s a little more info…

The premiere is Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 at 10:30 PM EST on HGTV.  Another airing comes on later that night (Wed. 4/22 at 1:30 AM EST).

That’s right folks – get it while it’s hot!

You can find the HGTV episode listing here in case it gets updated with additional dates.

We had a ton of fun being a part of this House Hunters International episode and the film crew was fantastic.  We spent so much time together that we felt like we were leaving old friends when it was all over.

I’m so glad we got to do this.  But it’s a little scary that we haven’t gotten to see the episode yet.  We’re going to be watching it for the first time with many of you.  Fingers crossed on how it turns out!

Bear in mind that they do have full creative reign, so don’t hold everything you see and hear to heart.  Take it for what it is – a fun episode in which we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to partake.

One last note, I’m sure you probably have a lot of questions about all the details of the shoot.  Unfortunately, as the big-time television stars we are, we had to sign some legal documents so I’m not not going to be able to respond.

UPDATE: If you didn’t get to catch the show when it aired, it appears you can find it all over YouTube (not from me).  I don’t want to post any links since they’re not officially from HGTV, but if you go to YouTube and search for:

House Hunters International Lower Costs In Boquete Panama

there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to watch it there.

If you’re new here, we’d love to have you aboard.  Sign up here to get a weekly email of what’s going on and information on the latest posts.  Plus, I’ll send you some cool and useful tools I created to help manage your finances better like my bad-ass recurring expenses spreadsheet, my asset allocation rebalancing worksheet, and my credit cards rewards tracker:

We’ve had to keep this whole thing under wraps for what seemed like an eternity but it’s finally here.  I’m excited to share our House Hunters International episode with you and hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for reading (and watching!)!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

38 thoughts on “House Hunters International (Panama) – Jim, Lisa, & Faith”

  1. Love HHI – losing it is what made it hardest to scrap cable. If I was able to watch it I think I could win that bet with my wife on which unit you choose…

    1. Good news – you can do what we’re doing to watch it. Sign up for Sling TV. They’re doing a stay-at-home promo where you get free access to dozens of channels from 5pm-12am every night. It’s actually really cool! You can then watch it on your computer, phone, Amazon Fire Stick, or whatever. 🙂

  2. WOW Jim… so exciting! Now I can finally get my wife excited about early retirement, if it gets you on HGTV 🙂 Looking forward to seeing Boquete too. I was there in 2002, wondering how much it’s changed since then.

    1. Haha, I think you might have to move out of the country, too! 😉

      You’ll have to tell me how much it’s changed since we weren’t there back then, but I do love it as we see it today! Ok, maybe not today since we can’t leave our place, but how it was pre-COVID-19! 🙂

  3. Will they pick house #1 designer ocean oasis, house #2 the frugal dream, or house #3 the mansion on the golf course. Um I’m going with house #2 on this one Jim. This will be fun to watch. I hope the editing is kind to you guys 😉

  4. Thats cool. Never heard of the show, guess it’s American? Well done and hope it’s an exciting episode. Next you’ll need to do extreme makeovers =)

  5. Just watched your HHI show. Very entertaining. Loved your thought process as the house hunting journey progressed. All three homes were really lovely. I loved them all. I do think the 5 to 7 minute walk to town is an amazing feature.

    Kudos to your wife for being so open to such a bold move.

    And your daughter is precious. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Crusher – very much appreciated! We really had a blast doing the shoot. It is wonderful being able to walk to town… up until the fun pandemic that was almost a daily routine. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get back to that before too long.

      Yes, Lisa definitely stepped out of her comfort zone, but the reward of that has been exponential. And of course, Faith is always the star of everything! 😉

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your HHI episode! Your family is adorable and I am so glad they agreed to include your daughter. Fiscally smart choices are essential for FI and you certainly had great options. We are living vicariously through your sharing of your international move. We retired in August, planned to spend a year in Seattle and then move to Portugal. The Covid-19 pandemic has preempted our plans, put a kink in our finances and now has us pinned down in our home here in Honolulu. Happy to have achieved FI and retire before the pandemic, and happy to be healthy, but life can sure be unpredictable. Keep updating your journey, it is so enjoyable to follow.

  7. Wow buddy. You do realize that you totally overruled your wife, right? Letting your 9 year old be the tie breaker is not a reasonable approach. Your wife deserves kudos for making this situation work. I’ll be interested to see how long this experiment lasts.

    1. Haha, keep in mind that you only got to see 24 minutes of something that we’ve been planning for years reviewing every single small detail. We’re good – we’re living the dream and loving life!

  8. Hello, I decided to write after watching the show last night. It was fun to watch the family after reading about you for awhile now. Thank you for letting us know when the show aired. The big house with the big price tag was so pretty, but I can see so many benefits of being able to walk into town and the condo that you selected.

    1. Thanks, CB – you’re not kidding it was pretty! The other two were both gorgeous but the practicality of the condo near town made sense for a ton of reasons. Plus, we have access to a bunch of amenities they didn’t even mention on the show. 🙂

  9. Thoroughly enjoyed episode. All were beautiful, but condo walkability made most sense, wouldn’t want to buy a car in the first year. Your whole family is delightful, but Faith was the star. Congrats on your FI

    1. Thanks, Kathy – we’ve enjoyed the place so far. Not having a car has actually been wonderful because we’ve been able to take in the beauty of the area more and be outdoors getting some exercise. Lisa though is thinking that we need to get a car for emergencies at some point so we might look at that in the near future.

      And yeah, Faith was the star… always is! 😉

      Stay safe and have a great week!

  10. Absolutely loved your house hunters episode. Just watched it and bless the family! Hope you’re enjoying retirement

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