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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

‘House Hunters International’ airs travel bloggers’ quest for home base in Mérida

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.

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Mérida, Yucatán — Lots of us found this city watching “House Hunters International,” and it looks like many more will learn about it the same way. The HGTV franchise just aired its eighth episode in 11 years centered on the White City.

White City Property’s owner Carol Kirby Williams returns as property guide, this time for a pair of travel bloggers named “Tommo and Megsy.” Their real, full names weren’t shared, which is unusual for “HHI.”

Tommo and Megsy run a culinary travel blog called “Food Fun Travel,” and in fact they posted on their Facebook page that they were in Georgia (the country) while the show aired, so they weren’t able to watch the broadcast.

They roam the world in search of foodie adventures, and say they have covered over 85 countries.

We won’t insert any spoilers here. The episode was available on YouTube as of Thursday, July 5, however.

So the idea was that Tommo and Megsy wanted a home base after five years living in hotels and cooking off hot pots. With a budget of US$500, they wanted to rent in the Centro. Megsy, who is Australian, wanted an “authentic feel” and a pool; Tommo, from the U.K., mainly wanted a big kitchen where he can cook and connect with the local cuisine.

Of the ones they saw in the televised reenactment, only one had a pool, and only one had a big kitchen. All three properties they saw were in Santa Ana.

The narrator tells us that the property market is hot, but prices are still reasonable.

The pair say they were in Mérida for 18 months, and have provided exhaustive lists of their favorite restaurants and cantinas.

The show sticks to its tried-and-true formula and the “House Hunters” franchise is based on fantasy. A few years back, former participants began opening up online about how their stories embellished by producers. “To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process,” Brian Balthazar, the network’s then–director of programming and development, conceded to Today.com. “Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions.”

The show’s longtime narrator, Andromeda Dunker defended the program on Buzzfeed.

“It’s not a five-hour documentary following them to see 25 houses. We can only show so much,” she said. “People who are shocked like this are not familiar with production at all. You can’t just follow a couple around for 10 years while they look for a house.”

For Dunker, the show’s success lies in its simple “Goldilocks formula, where you see three houses and this one’s too big, this one’s too small, and this one’s just right.”

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