Storytelling Travel

Caribbean Conundrum

Every time I hear the phrase “We like to entertain,” I raise my eyebrows. Some mornings, my eyebrows end up doing an entire workout and I have to stop what I’m doing to really listen up, before turning the TV on mute.

It has to do with my morning ritual of watching Caribbean Life on TV while I wait for my work laptop to wake up. I know, I know, what am I doing watching a show like this in the first place?

Well, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m watching it for the scenery. And maybe daydreaming a little about buying a house in the Caribbean! (As if!)

It’s a show where sun-loving Americans move to the Caribbean (a desire I can totally relate to) and decide that the best way to find their perfect home is to go on TV and choose from the three units presented to them by an actor posing as a real estate agent (suddenly not so relatable).

Following the storyline of other similar shows, the three choices they are given are loosely based on the couple’s original wishes, but there is always a wild card – a house that is nothing like the one they asked for, but that the real estate agent just has to throw in anyway, because she thinks it’s perfect in its own way…. if you like the jungle, which she knows her clients don’t, and if you don’t mind a termite problem and no running water, which she knows they do. But anyway, perfect. Sort of.

The home-seekers invariably have enviable budgets, great jobs that are completely location independent, cute kids, and a pack of dogs that need incredibly large lawns to run on, or else the family won’t move at all, because back home the dogs are used to having the largest backyard in the neighbourhood. Let’s not disappoint the dogs! They’re looking forward to relocating to the Caribbean.

Now, I swear to you that by this time, I’m usually quite busy at work and not following the show at all anymore. But I can still tell you what happens next: the house tours.

First, they warm up with a bit of judginess, which I always find slightly rude, considering it might be someone’s home and personal decorating taste they are talking about in front of millions of viewers:

“Oooh, it’s so… cramped. I hate the tiles.”
“This shower space – what were they thinking?”

“The bright colours have to go. I want marble.”

Then come the demands:

“I want a fireplace.”
“I need a larger kitchen, and a sea view from the window above the sink!”
“We need a bathroom with showers for two and a double-sink vanity so we can brush our teeth at the same time.”

“There are only four bathrooms and that’s a big issue. We like to entertain, and it would be so inconvenient for our guests to have to go upstairs to use the bathroom.”

Then the megalomania (blame it on other people):

“We love to entertain, so we need 5 dining areas.”
“We have visitors over all the time, so we need at least 8 bedrooms.”
“We have a five-year-old, so we need at least 2 000 square feet.”

The misguided assumptions:

“Relocating to the Caribbean, we decided to downsize and save some money that way. So the house size we are now looking for is a modest 3000 sq ft. We believe a simpler lifestyle will be perfect for us!”

The disappointments and moments of horror:

“What! There isn’t even an en-suite bathroom in this bedroom!”
“This is too small for a guest bedroom!”
“This is the master bedroom???”

The utterly unfixable deal-breakers:

“The appliances are outdated!”
“This is such a beautiful place but the furniture is horrible!”
“I love this house but I hate the curtains. Next!”

The Goldilocks syndrome:

“This house is lovely, but it’s too far from the water. It’s a 5-minute drive there!”
“This house is lovely, but it’s too close to the water: the windows are getting sprayed with sea water!”

The decisions:

“Hmm, do we want to be closer to the golf course or the beach…?”

The privileged realizations:

“This property has a spare building we could rent out, it could end up covering most of our living expenses!”
“This one has 12 bedrooms, so we really need to upgrade the AC to work throughout the house. (Is there a way we could use even more electricity somehow?)”
“The best part is, it’s a gated community and it covers the most beautiful part of the island.”

Mute is my favourite button at this point. I feel happy knowing that I’m at least at liberty to choose my own decor. I’ll stick to tropical cushions.

About the photos: half of them are from the Caribbean, and half of them aren’t, but they seemed to fit the housing theme! This isn’t a documentary so I take artistic liberties! (As always, the photos are of course my own.)

29 replies on “Caribbean Conundrum”

I’d never heard of this show but that’s not saying much as I haven’t kept up to date with the so-called ‘reality’ shows. It’s just as well you can hit mute the button, the scenery is the best part.

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I watched a similar British show,also couples wanting to buy a house abroad,but it was usually in spain or france or greece,loved watching it because of scenery too,but it is funny how ppl have such silly demands

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I agree! and I’ve also seen a Mediterranean version of this (and a Hawaiian and Mexican version!) Over here, houses/flats are rarely furnished: when you move in, it’s empty. It will only have a fridge and stove/oven, everything else you buy. And because this applies everywhere, you have the stuff already, obviously. How’s it go in Croatia? I know in France, furnished flats were quite common, especially for rent (which was great for a student like me!)

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Oh my goodness this makes me laugh! I love that show too! …and International House Hunters, and my new love Mediterranean Life! May I add “I want character” “charm” oh, and of course “we will have to pull out all of the kitchen counters” …oops, “and the bathroom counters too”! Oh my goodness! But I still love the shows and watch one almost every day (thank you “on demand” and DVR) 🤣😂🤣😂🌴🌴🌴

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Hey, happy to find another fan of the show!! 🙂 I’ve also seen the ones you mention, plus Hawaiian Life and Mexican Life! They all look the same (gorgeous) and sound the same (ridiculous)!
Oh yes, I forgot “I want character/charm” from my list, a definite classic!! But not TOO much character, because that means the house is 100 years old and looking its age!! 😀
I’ve also noted a cultural difference: the buyers’ taste in decor differs very much from my Scandinavian one! They want grandiose, royal, dark – I want light, simple, minimalistic!


hahaha….love this post. I often find myself watching these shows and the quotes you included made me chuckle! I especially love the one where they say “the appliances are outdated”…gets me everytime 🙂

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Hahah! Yeah! Also, it often seems like the poor wifey is going to be spending most of her time in the kitchen, based on how important it is for it to be just right. In similar shows where they also want to get rid of their old homes, I love it when they re-enact how difficult it is for them to watch their kids while cooking – the wife/mother stretching her neck from the kitchen to reach around the corner where the child is playing – yes, thanks, we get it!

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I’m happy that there are shows like featuring people like that, because it means they’re otherwise occupied and reduces the chances that I’ll ever meet them. Mind you, the Big Island is currently hosting a reality (honestly!) show called Love Island (I think). Some neighbors are up in arms, but probably the ones whose houses weren’t chosen as locations for filming. Goodness knows how long it runs, but it’s top of my ‘places to avoid’ on the island.

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Oh no, not Love Island!!! I’ve seen commercials but yikes, I’d avoid it too. I’m sure they don’t leave whatever resort or gated filming area they are in, so don’t worry! But you know what? The show Caribbean Life already has a sister version called Hawaiian Life 😀 They are really at your doorstep now!

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I like watching these shows too on the rare nights I watch TV and have control of the remote control.
I think I have only seen this version, once and it struck me the budget was ridiculously OtT. I watch an English version, Escape to the country and like you, it is just to see the scenery. Some fabulous barn conversions and period thatched homes. The ceilings so low!! Having just built a home, it is interesting for me to see the decorating ideas people have for their house and garden. I’m always shocked how picky and judgemental the guests are. They are never satisfied and only the odd occasion does someone buy a house from being a guest on the show. Silly me, I thought the actor was a real, real estate agent. I’ve been duped!

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Well I don’t know for sure who’s an actor but I guess most reality tv is scripted. I, too, find it interesting to see how people have designed their gardens and interiors, actually there’s a show called Grand Designs that does it really well (without being silly!). Do you know that show?

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