By Rosemary Bennett.
Marketing & Communications Nicole (Hughes) Hargreaves graduated from PLU in 2009 with a degree in communication and a minor in women’s and gender studies. Originally from Kirkland, Wash., she went on to begin her career here in the Pacific Northwest.
However, after her husband Paul was struck with a sudden illness they decided to relocate the family to his native Australia to hopefully make his recuperation process a bit easier. Now, Nicole, Paul, and their two young daughters live in Ocean Grove on the Southeast coast of Australia near Melbourne. Their moving process was documented on a recent episode of HGTV’s House Hunters International, but the process of moving and filming a TV show, while fun, wasn’t always easy.
How did you get involved with HGTV, and what was the pre-filming process like?
We spent our last three weeks in Waco Texas living with my mom. We watched House Hunters International with her almost nightly and one night it dawned on us that Paul and I could apply for the show. I found that all I needed to do was write an email about us, our upcoming move and what we thought made us good candidates for the show. Then, after a few Skype interviews and completing a long questionnaire, we were assigned a producer based in Australia who worked out all the filming details.
What was it like being filmed?
The producer and film crew we worked with made the filming process really fun. They were very relaxed, forgiving, and supportive which made us feel a bit more comfortable in front of the camera, which was very awkward at first. Some days were long and a bit tiring. I was surprised by how exhausting it was to “be on” and camera ready all day, but overall it was a really enjoyable experience.
How did it feel to finally see your family on television?
Paul and I were SO nervous about how the episode would turn out. Since they had five days worth of footage and the show likes to play up a couple’s differences in personality and/or what they’re looking for in a house, we felt like we could have been easily portrayed as needy, high maintenance, or just on opposite ends of the spectrum. In the end, we were pretty happy with how it turned out. It was fun to see it all edited because we only really knew what we could remember from filming. It also felt odd to publicly document Paul’s illness. Part of that was a bit emotional for me because I’ve not heard anyone else explain what happened to him before.
We showed our daughters the episode without telling them first, it took a minute for them to ask why daddy and mummy were on tv — then after they figured it out, they only wanted to see scenes that included themselves.
What kind of community response have you experienced since the show aired?
The episode has not yet aired in Australia, but we’ve been able to share it with some of our Aussie family and friends who have all enjoyed seeing the final product after waiting so long since filming. The response from our family and friends in America has been a little overwhelming. I’ve had people reach out from all areas of my life saying they have seen the episode. All of the feedback has been really positive, but I truly didn’t believe that many people would see it or even have an interest in seeing it. However, I’ve been proven wrong. Paul and I applied for the show just for the experience of doing it. I honestly never thought about what it would be like once it aired.
How have you enjoyed living abroad? Was it a challenging adjustment for yourself or your children?
I love living in Australia. I wish we had moved sooner. The work-life balance is completely in line with our lifestyle. Paul and I have always been up for an adventure and seeking out new life experiences together — we have moved 12 times in the last 10 years between Australia, Washington state, Texas, and back to Australia. With that said, I finally feel at home in Ocean Grove.
How has the pandemic affected your move abroad?
Shortly after our move Australia experienced the devastating wildfires which were piggybacked by COVID-19 with strict lockdown rules still in place. We couldn’t have anticipated a year like this regardless of where we were living. Though I have zero regrets about making the move, Australian borders have been closed to international travel due to the pandemic which has taken a toll on my family, especially for those with canceled travel plans to visit us. And our daughters, in particular, miss their Nana (my mom in Texas) immensely. More than anything else, it’s hard not knowing when I’ll get the option to see my stateside family and friends in person again.
What are your plans for the future?
Paul and I are onto our fifth full home renovation. We can’t get enough of it apparently. We really enjoy taking a dated home with a poor layout and reconfiguring it to make the most of the space. Since we’ve finished the house that was featured on HHI and don’t get the keys to the next house until December 2020, we bought an old pop-up caravan to renovate, we’ve never completed a renovation of this nature so it’s been a learning curve so far. It feels good to put time and energy into an entirely new project.
You can follow Nicole and Paul’s renovation projects @renoaddicts on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The post Nicole Hargreaves ‘09 documents her move overseas on HGTV’s House Hunters International was first publishing on the Pacific Lutheran University website.