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!”
“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.)