10 Years of Blog Archive

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Why We Didn’t Accept "House Hunters International" Feature Offer - UPDATED September 2018

This article was first published on January 25, 2012. Today we bring you the updated article and the video to go along with it. 

UPDATE 2018: Everything in this article still applies. House Hunters has done three shows in Ecuador since writing this article, that we know about. 

Last week House Hunters International asked Frank and me if we would like to be featured on one of their shows doing an episode about house hunting for rentals here in Cuenca. 

This version of HHI is a spinoff of the house hunters show. It was pretty exciting to be asked to do one of their shows and we gave it some careful thought. But we are not the type of people who just jump into something without doing the due diligent research first. What would the consequences of such a move be?
We did our research and investigation about this show and it is a very contrived reality show. Viewers do not realize that when they watch this show the people in it our actually “acting”! But that is not the scary part, the scary part is how they can and will slant anything they want from the four day shoot into their favor and say and do whatever they want. It's pretty much like watching the news or reading the newspaper. Is that what you want? we don't think it is. As our readers already know, we have our own show already.

Update 2018: In fact during the considerations we called them several times with our questions and they said we had to stick to their script and that's when things began to fall down hill from there and is why we decided not to do their show. 

We have a reputation to uphold for our readers and YT viewers and for ourselves and we feel it will do more harm than good. We have a pretty large readership now and our readers truly have an expectation from us, and we believe we owe our readers the low cost Cuenca, not the hyped up Cuenca with inflated rents. 

HHI is a very popular and well-known cable television show and for us to go on this show and pretend we like the hyped up rents and real-estate prices would be contradictory to what we teach people about how to live in developing countries.
We believe that if we were to go on this show it would inflate rental prices even more and that is something we are not willing to do. We cannot stop others from hyping up Cuenca with high priced rentals and real estate prices, but for us it is not an option. We love being the Frugal blog about Cuenca and we love being able to tell our readers about how not to be a gringo target and how to find good rental deals.
We live in a pretty nice rental now for only $250 a month and we know there are other rentals out there in the local rental market as well. If we were to go on the show we would be asked to look at high priced rentals that are actually out of our price range and that is not who we are.
This is how the show works and why we won’t do it: They open the show up with how we moved from the U.S all the way to Cuenca to make a new life for ourselves. Then they show us three rentals in Cuenca, one being the home we are in now. They take everything out of our house and pretend like it is just one we are looking at to possibly rent. We would be expected to act the whole time. (If it were our show our slant would be how to find three nice but economical houses or apartments between the price ranges of $250 to $400. We would want to talk about the three factors to look for when searching for these rentals. And the three things not to look for when finding these rentals)
The shows slant would be to show us expensive, gringo inflated rentals that in reality we would never consider in a million years looking at or telling our readers about. They would get a very popular real-estate agency involved like Caldwell Banker or Remax, both of whom are actually here in Cuenca and they would show us $500 on up rentals. Frank and I would have to “act” like these overpriced gringo rentals are something we would consider renting. Of course, in the end we’d have to say they are not really in our budget and we choose the $250 rental, the home we’re really in.
The bottom line is the show is really contrived and artificial, which is nothing like our videos we already have on YouTube. The videos we make for our viewers are never rehearsed—what you see is what you get…To see us on television would be like watching two people you already know and have become accustomed to seeing on YouTube and then be expected to not really know them once you saw the show. We know that are readers would be disappointed and we’d probably lose much of our devoted fans if we did the show.
You see, we already know that if you do your due diligence you can find a decent rental at the local prices of between $300 and $400, unfurnished. At least at this time in Cuenca. Things are changing, however in that area but we do not want to have any part of that new change. Prices are going up, yet we still rent for $250 per month.
Anyway, in the end of the show we would obviously pick out the house we are in now as the one we choose. They pretend like its 3 months later and they put all the furniture back and they show how we have adjusted to our new home, ladda, ladda, ladda.
We want to know what you think. Are we making the right decision by forgoing doing House Hunters International, or do you think we should do the show? What you think means a lot to us—we wouldn’t have this blog if it wasn’t for our devoted readers. You can leave a comment at the end of this post, or email us directly and tell us your thoughts.

Update 2018: As our long time followers know, we have now lived in three different houses, in three different locations of Ecuador and have never spent more than $300 on 4 bedroom houses, and we do not intend on doing anything of the sort for a long time. 

Stay tuned for our price update about the cost of living in Cuenca Ecuador for 2018! You're going to be surprised. Here's the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide! 


  1. I think you are very, very, very, wise people and you have earned another feather in both your hats. Wear them proudly! There are many blogs about Cuenca and it is yours I find to be the best. Also, happy you are waiting to publish your ebook. If I may, I'd like to see information about possible vet care,food,cat litter,etc, for people who "must" bring a dog or cat to Cuenca, more about ALL volunteer opportunities, and yearly updates as a supplement to your main ebook?

    Someone tells me an American can not collect SSI if they live in another country. Who do I contact about that situation? Please say it's not true...

    Hopefully, by the time I come to live in Cuenca, I will be able to volunteer at a pet spay/neuter center. Cesar Milan is beginning a new TV show in Spain to educate about the stray dog problem. I am excited about that TV show... but only for the dogs! He also had a recent post on his site that describes the same problem of stray dogs happening in Pennsylvania, USA.

    Warm Regards

    1. SSI is only paid in USA that is why I had
      to forget overseas idea ,stuck here where
      I Beg with a sign.
      Would give two legs to leave don't like
      USA the way it is today.

    2. Yes, you can absolutely collect SS if you live in another country. There are many countries will the Social Security Administration will even direct deposit your monthly benefit into a foreign bank, but EC isn't one of the countries. But since EC is on the American dollar, you can have your SS deposited into an American bank and withdraw money from an ATM. For more information about Social Security, go directly to the horse's mouth: http://www.ssa.gov/deposit/foreign.htm

    3. The question is is it SSI disability or SSI retirement?. Disability you are out of luck but retirement you definitely can.

  2. Thank you so much for sticking to your guns. I watch the show, knowing that it is pretty fakey, but I like seeing the interiors of the houses and apartments. And, occasionally, they actually do a budget show.

    But for you to do the show would compromise what you are trying to teach people -- how to live frugally. And honestly. You did the right thing.

    By the way, my husband and I are moving to Cuenca in mid-April. We really admire what you are doing and would love to meet you.

    Geri Jeter

  3. Thank you for not "selling out" to HHI. I really rely on your honesty and candor about what it's really like to live in Cuenca. In response to Stray Feather about SSI. If you Google "SSI International" they have information about collecting while living overseas. They have country lists 1, 2 and 3 with information about each. You CAN collect SSI while living in Ecuador but there are restrictions if you are collecting as a dependent. If you go to the website it gives the details. Hope this helps.

  4. Thank you for the great news Phyllis! Voy a trabjar duro and study my Spanish daily!

  5. I agree completely with your reasoning on not doing HHI. From the very few times I have had to watch it (because someone else had it on) I was completely unimpressed with it for the reasons you gave.

    Like you said it's contrived and that's obvious to anyone with more than 2 active brain cells.

    Stray Feather, what Phyllis said is correct. I have been doing a lot of research on it myself, and anyone that tells you you can't get SSI while living in Ecuador obviously hasn't, or they don't want people on SSI there for one reason or another like you won't have enough $ to buy their $200,000 home they're trying to sell.

    Here is the URL to the SSA in Quito Ecuador:

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Thank you so very much for your moral stand! I look forward to your videos and blog because of the honesty I see in the family. I am anticipating a move in the very near future--either Mexico or Ecuador. I am believing for the finances to visit Cuenca in 2012, and hope to get the opportunity to sit down with you guys! Thanks again. Angie, your bread making video made me get my bread machine off the shelf. Made some cinnamon raisen bread the other nite, using vanilla flavoring as that special ingredient.

  7. Thanks BunnyJean and everyone who has offered their encouragement. ...Yummy, cinnamon raisin bread sounds delicious!

    1. Hi Frank
      I plan to move to EC as soon as I hit retirement age.
      Would Cuenca be ideal for someone confined to a wheelchair ? I want someplace that doesn,t have many hills. I hit 63 in Feb so its just a matter of tying loose ends up first before the move. I'm needing my passport then looking to visit one or twice first.
      Thx for your reply

  8. I just found your blog, after looking for people who have insight on Ecuador. I find it highly commendable that you stuck by your principles, a rare quality these days. Just about everyone (every American at least) is a sell-out these days, sacrificing integrity, principle, honesty and character to make a buck.

    My wife had watched HHI quite a bit, and I shared your commentary with her. It was wonderful to see how this lined up with my own suspicions about HHI. I have a few contacts in various places around the world and what these ex-pats have told me did not fit with what HHI portrays. You've put the final touches to this 'mystery' (deception) by HHI.

    Thank you very much.
    ~Survival Acres~

  9. You did the right thing and your more trust worthy for stinking to your values Your all ways right when you go with your heart. thanks Larry Osborne

  10. What you are doing is really nice work. I'm surprised International Living or Overseas Investment hasn't come knocking on your door. However, you tell it like it is...real and raw. Maybe that's the reason.

    Love it! Should we come to Ecuador, we will definitely look you up!

  11. I agree with you for not doing the show. Another family did the show and their blog states they rented their first house for about $250, but on the HHI they took a Condo for $650. I think this only distorts reality and makes people feel like these inflated prices are the norm, which is a dis-service to them and inflates prices for everyone.

  12. Thank you everyone for your kind words of encouragement. A bit of kindness goes a long way...thanks again...

  13. I've just discovered your blog while researching Ecuador for a potential move there. It should a must read for anyone contemplating Ecuador as home. Invaluable blog!!! Thank you.

    Regarding your stand vis-a-vis HH, if you had taken it, it would have discredited you and betrayed your followers. So, I applaud your your stand and integrity.

    While browsing the real estate ads, I saw some properties listed with similar prices as the US. ($250,000, 325,000, etc ...). That's insane for Ecuador!!!! They be must be GRINGOS (or someone with Gringo mentality). These people want to turn Ecuador into another Costa Rica where they buy a property for $40,000-50,000 and list it for $350,000. The show HH is contributing to this mania and ultimately a real estate bubble.

    Quick question. Any information for people on wheelchairs (my wife is a cancer survivor and uses a wheelchair). Again thank you for 'educating' us on Ecuador. Hopefully, some day we meet and thank in person ... All the best!!!

  14. Have lived in Ecuador for many years (13), and agree the prices are being driven up by prospecting real estate business people.
    In my 13 years, have never paid more than $150 for a full house; and have lived by the ocean. At one time the value of my rental was $23,000. and they had a hard time selling it. Gives you some idea. Unfortunately you have to really search now for the bargains, but they are still there.

  15. Stray Feather
    I am on SSI and I can tell you you will be staying in the U.S.A. because SSI only pays in the U.S.A. your just have to take up standing on a street corner in the U.S.A. to make it on $698. a month less then most rents in the U.S.A. I agree SSI should allow us to live overseas but they do not. All the panhandlers are on SSI so you just have to join us since moving overseas is OUT. I was so broken hearted because Cuenca is only a dream that will never happen. People on SSDI can live overseas which is the one they paid into Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security Retirement Insurance that is a seperate program to SSI Social Security's ( Supplemental Security Income) a disabled welfair program for the poor who never paid in so they only pay for those living in U.S.A. where it does not pay even the rent in a room in the getto's across the U.S.A. so join the beggers club to be able to make it since you won't be moving overseas on that money.
    I am so poor I am on a Ecuadorian and Mexican couples computer writting this who were shocked I want to leave the U.S.A.
    I hope you did not move their and then found out you won't be paid the SSI having to get the U.S. to pay your passage back to U.S.A..
    That person is talking about SSDI which is the main Social Security program which you are not on.
    Sorry to have to tell you the truth, call 1-800-772-1213.


    Have you tried Hutchinson Kansas? Or any small town in the midwest. There are apartments there for $200 a month. And it's easy to walk around and live without a car, if you don't mind the winters. Use the search button on the top right and look for the article we wrote.

  17. thank you for your honesty......it is short supply

    glad you didn't do HHI


  18. Our family was featured on the episode Lucky In The Languedoc and we loved every minute of it. We wanted to share our story and that is exactly what we did. Now we are doing a follow up show, called HHI- Where are they no? We didn't have a huge budget, we sold everything off in Canada to move to France to follow our dreams of opening a B&B with children in tow and ended up having an amazing experience. 18 months later we want to share our progress with our family and friends back home that can't come for a visit. I guess for us, it was more about the story not the impact it may have on our new community. We are just happy we checked out of the rat-race and hope to inspire others to do the same.

  19. Frank and family, thank you! I have enjoyed your blog and look forward to the videos. My wife and I will be Cuenca and EC in general for a fact finding trip for the month of April. Glad you did not do HHI. If all goes well we will move to EC 2014.

  20. Hi Frank and Family.
    I plan to visit then hopefully move to EC.Is Cuenca an Ideal place for someone that is confined to a wheelchair ? I love to Beauty of the Country and looking for a City that would be suitable for someone in my situation.

  21. Honesty ? How Un Salesman Like - Kidding - Thanks for the Moral Stand and the fascinating Blog/Videos

  22. Frank/Angie,
    Have you been to Valcabamba?
    Any opinions on that area?

    1. We have not been to Vilcamba. We have heard reports from expats though that it is really expensive there now. In fact, they moved to Cuenca.

  23. I understand you not wanting to do it and I understand how the show works but I still love the show. I love to see the different areas in the different cities/countries, etc... I wouldn't do the show either but.....i still like the show.

  24. It is possible with a wheelchair. But you will have to make some adjustments, and that can be very trying.


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