That time Iris and I tried to be reality TV Stars

So someone of you might know, and someone of you might not, that Iris and I applied to be on House Hunters International. We might still be one, not sure what is happening with it at the moment. We contacted them the day before leaving for Malaysia, and they actually called us back that very day. We filled out a long questionnaire for them, did an interview with a production assistant or something like that, and got pitched to the producers. That all ended about two months ago. We have not heard anything since then but we still might. In the meantime, we thought it was safe enough to share the video we made for them, and the questionnaire (or parts of it at least). This is the main reason we have not shared any pictures of our apartment: we were worried about maintaning the mystique of the show. But really if you think reality TV is real, your bubble is too large to burst. So anyway, first the questionnaire. The video we had to do for them is all the way at the bottom if you just want to skip right to that.

(also a side note: The hardest part of all of this was getting the property management to sign off. They did not want to sign anything for some reason. They repeatedly said they were fine with House Hunters filming here, but would not sign any forms to allow them to do so. Weird)

(Side note to the side note: Some of this information is very old. Iris and I will be doing a “six month survey” next month and, well, every six months while we live here, to see what changes over our time in Malaysia. But for now, here is a small peak at our first few weeks in Malaysia and why we moved here and what not)


When would you be available to shoot your back story which would be in your city of origin (1 day shoot)?  Never. We are living in Kuala Lumpur now and are not planning on being back in our home city for at least two years.

When would you be available to shoot your house hunting experience (4 full days)? List any scheduling conflicts you have this year and tell us about any travel plans you have.
We are going to Singapore on August 21st for the weekend. Other than that we have no travel plans at the moment.

Are you able to shoot on weekdays or do you need to shoot on weekends?

Kevin is available on weekdays and weekends at the moment. Iris is only available on weekends. However, she does get the last three weeks of August off, and would be available during the week at that time.


Out of all places in the world, why have you chosen to move to your current country, and specifically in your current city?

We wanted to live abroad and did not have a particular destination in mind other than Asia in general. We wanted something different. It seems that most people go to Korea to teach English so we were not necessarily high on that country at the outset. While we were receiving our training in teaching ESL, Iris was applying to jobs in special education in Asia, which are very rare. She found the one in KL and it was very similar to what she was currently doing in Richmond so she applied. It was her first interview in 10 years and she got it. So Kuala Lumpur it was!


What motivated you to move abroad? Work? Family? Investment? Fed up with your current location? Please explain in great detail.

Our motivation was that we are somewhat young and without children. We are unable to have children naturally, so this avoids any happy accidents. But it also means that we are able to plan out our family and when to start it. This seemed to be a good time to live abroad, something Kevin has always wanted to do, and something Iris was willing to give a shot to. Iris is from Richmond originally, and has lived within an hour of the city her whole live so leaving that area was something she had to come to terms with before we decided to make the move. Kevin is from the Rochester, New York area originally and does not hold Richmond in his heart as much as Iris does. While he likes the area, he has always wanted to move somewhere else, try something different. Iris’s entire family and her friends are in Richmond and the surrounding area and that was very difficult to move away from.


What do you hope to gain from this move?

Adventure, a new outlook on life, the experience of something completely different then what we are used to.


Who will be affected the most by this move? Family/Parents/Children/Friends/Yourself? How so?

Well, if you ask certain members of our family it is affecting them the most! Iris’s brother, sister in law, and step sister were very supportive throughout.

Iris’s brother had his first child 7 weeks before we left, so it was very difficult to leave him knowing how much we would miss out on. We also have a nephew through Kevin’s sisters who was sad to hear we were leaving. He believes that Iris will help bring peace to the world though through her teaching. It was hard on all of our friends but more so on Iris’s friends. As stated before, she has lived in the Richmond area her entire life, and almost all of her friends from childhood on live in the Richmond area. Some of them live there because Iris sold them on how great it was to be there and how much she loved it. While they were supportive of the move, it was difficult for them as well. Iris’s mother does not fly, so the move was difficult for her on that level as she will not be coming to visit us ever.


What personal risks or concerns if any are involved in this move?

Well, Kevin did not have a job when we moved. At the time of writing this, he is still looking and hopeful that he will find one. Additionally, Kevin loves running. He has run many marathons and ultra-marathons. Richmond, while hot in the summer, offers great climate to run in and a great community to be a part of. Kuala Lumpur is hot, very hot, with some marathons starting at 4am in the morning or earlier to avoid the heat of the day.


How many times have you visited your new home location prior to renting/purchasing your new home?

We had never been to Malaysia. Kevin had spent a few weeks in China sight seeing, and Iris had done the same in Japan. But all we knew about KL we learned from travel books and other sources.


What kind of layout is your new home? (Please be specific with levels, living spaces, types of rooms, parking, etc.)  Please provide the most recent pictures of your new home, via email.

It is a one bedroom apartment. As you enter, there is a galley style kitchen separated from the living room by a counter. At the back end of the living room are two doors: One goes into the bathroom, one goes into the bedroom. The bedroom has one door into it that connects to the bathroom. The complex does have parking, although we do not have a car at the moment. It has a rooftop infinity pool, and a small workout space. It is connected to a hotel. The bedroom does over a view or the Petronas Towers and most of the city skyline.




When in a group setting are you the first person to volunteer for an activity?

Kevin is, Iris might reluctantly. Kevin is an introvert at heart, but with the ability to shift and be an extrovert when the moment arrives.


Do you prefer living with a detailed action plan or living spontaneously?

A detailed action plan. This was a big debate before we even left: How long we would stay in KL. As stated before, it was a source of conflict with some family members as well. It was Kevin who wanted to know the most, as he loves a detailed action plan. Both of us view this move as living spontaneously and hope it impacts our lives in a positive way.


What’s your dream job?

Iris-School teacher?

Kevin-Great American fiction writer!


How long have you been living in your new home?

One week as of this writing

What do you do for fun? More importantly, what do you do for fun around your new location?

Kevin runs for fun. Iris would hang out with friends for fun when we lived in Richmond, meaning this will be a challenge for both of us. At the moment, we love eating in our new location! The food here is amazing! We are also planning out exploratory trips each weekend to different parts of the city. This weekend is Chow Kit and Masjid India!


What did you have to sacrifice, if anything, to make living in this city/country come true?

As explained above, we gave up a lot. We gave up living in a city with a ton of our friends and families. We gave up a world of knowns for a world of unknowns. Iris gave up a job she loved for a job at a school she had never seen. Kevin gave up a job he loved at a local brewery for a job search that is still ongoing. We sold both our cars, rented out our house, put all of our possessions into a storage unit and even sadder, we gave our beloved dog Sophie to Kevin’s parents to dog sit. She is 11 though, so we gave her up knowing that there was a good chance we met never see her again.


Describe your family member’s traits and personality. Did anyone need convincing in making this move? Was there any hesitation from anyone?

There was a lot of hesitation from Iris’s family. Kevin’s family, not as much but still all were a bit worried about having us so far away.




 How much did you pay for your property? Please include the price of renovation, etc.

RM2500 plus deposits for utilities (RM500) and two month security deposit.


How long do you plan on living in your new country?

Iris’s contract is for two years, so at least that long. After that, we will re-evaluate. We might stay for another year, because we would like to adopt a child while living here and you have to stay for three years in order to do so. But we might also go back to Richmond, move somewhere else in the USA or somewhere else in the world.

How long do you plan on living in your current property?

One year, and then we will see. We love the neighborhood we live in, but it was pretty much the only neighborhood we were familiar with. After a year, if we have found a different area we like more, we might move. But it is very possible that we will stay there our whole time in KL.


What were you looking for in your new home?

# Bedrooms: 1-2       # Baths: 1                   # Square Meters:n/a

Other Features: Pool, gym

We initially wanted a two bedroom apartment close to the train. We are not sure where Kevin will be working, so we wanted to be close to the train so he could get to a potential job. We wanted a second bedroom so we would have a place to stay for guests. We looked at a three bedroom near the train and semi near Iris’s work and found that there was NOTHING to walk to.


What did you end up with?

# Bedrooms: 1          # Baths: 1                   # Square Meters:

Other Features: Pool, gym. We are not near the train, but Iris can walk to work and we are within easy walking distance of Desa Sri Hartamas with all its great restaurants.

Furnished or Unfurnished? Furnished.


Was there anything about your new home that didn’t fit your expectations?

The gym is disappointing. It is just a few cardio machines and some barbells.

Describe you and your significant other’s personal home style. Do your ideas in an ideal home differ in anyway? Please Describe?

Our ideal homes were very similar: Simple, and fully furnished. No jack and jill bathroom, since that is what we had in our home in Richmond and Kevin hates it.


Please list other features/characteristics that were important to you in your search for a new home. (examples: close to the children’s school, a place with lots of natural light, a large garden, etc.)

Initially we wanted to be close to a train station and at least a short taxi ride away from Iris’s school. However, once we looked at an apartment that fit that criteria and a few other places, we wanted to be close to restaurants and other activities. Natural light was not something we had considered, but we did want a view.


Explain your house hunting experience.  Have you found a home or how close are you to finding a home? How long have you been looking for a new property in this city/country and if applicable, how soon are you looking to move in? 

We have found a home, signed a lease, and are moved in. It was fully furnished and we did not bring a lot with us so it was easy to move in.


What obstacles did you face in finding your new home that you feel are unique to the place where you currently live? 

Well, there are a ton of condos in a small area. That feels pretty unique. Finding a place where Iris could walk to work felt unique. We are only 1.2 miles from her school, but EVERYONE thinks she is insane to walk to work that far, although we do not consider it to be a far search.


What should buyers be aware with regards to house hunting in the area?

Lots of deposits needed! It felt like a lot at least, but we are coming from a situation where we owned our own home to renting again.


What was the most difficult part about finding your new home? (budget constraints, need for off road parking, specific requirements in terms of style, etc.)

Finding something that was close to a train station and near Iris’s school was tough. Because of the way some of the highways are constructed, you could be two blocks from someplace as the crow flies, but a 30 minute walk because you have to find a way around/over the highway. Budget constraints were difficult too. To get a two bedroom in the Mont’Kiara/Sri Hartamas area where we wanted to live after ruling out living near the train station would mean stretching our budget. Iris was more comfortable going to 2800 or 3000 if need be, but Kevin was not as he was not sure what kind of money he would be able to contribute.


If you were house hunting with a spouse, significant other or roommate, what conflict did you have during the search in terms of differing wish list items?

We had a conflict in terms of budget and stretching that budget, as listed above. And a conflict on location. Our first neighborhood choice we both ruled out. Our second choice was a debate. Kevin was not sold on living in or near Mont’Kiara as it is very heavy with ex pats of all kinds, and was worried about it being an authentic experience.


Are you looking for a furnished home or will you buy furniture? When do you expect to be settled in your new home?

We got a furnished apartment, which was minimally furnished but fit our needs. We are all settled in.


Did you sell an older property to move into a new one?  Are you going to hang on to an older property? Please explain.

We own a home in Richmond and are currently renting it. Iris’s father and brother are acting as our “landloards/supers” if problems arise.


What were some deal breakers? What makes you categorically reject a property the minute you hear about/see it?

Not being able to walk to anything. This was a deal breaker after looking at the first place. Everyone insists we could just get a car but we do not want to spend the money to buy or lease a car. Also Iris refused to drive since they drive on the left. Also, a place being too nice made us reject it. We looked at one place that was a complex of four towers and had two gyms, badminton courts, tennis courts, four pools, and a whole lot more. It was too much like being on vacation so we rejected that right away when we saw it.





What do you like/dislike about your new location?

Like: The food! Dislike: The heat!


What do you like/dislike about your old location?

Like: All our friends and family: Richmond is like a big small town

Dislike: Ironically as we moved to KL, Kevin did not like that there was no real winter there. Iris did not dislike much about it at all.

What was your life like before you moved to your new location and what prompted your move?

Our life was good, but unsettled in a sense. Kevin worked for many years in higher education before burning out. He then worked at Starbucks and at the brewery. Moving to KL and hopefully getting a teaching job is the start of a teaching career he hopes to continue if/when we move back to America.


What are a few things about this country/city that made you fall in love with it?

Before moving here, the unknown and how different it is. It is Asian, hot, muslim, and multicultural in a way America can never be. Being here, we are falling in love with all of that and the food. We love how multicultural it is, and all the opportunities we have to explore the world living here.

Describe your new neighborhood.

Our neighborhood is Sri Hartamas. It is very diverse, but has a strong Korean and Indian population. Part of it is very urban: Lots of noise, restaurants and grit. Part of it is across the highway from us and is filled with very expensive homes. We can hear the call to prayer from the local mosque in our apartment and we love it! It is a great reminder of where we are and how big and beautiful the world is out there!


Do you have family or friends in the area?
No. We knew no one in advance of moving here.

What are your favorite spots in the area?   Please list specifics locations you visit frequently.

Spicy, a local south indian restaurant we love! We have only been in the area for two weeks, and in the country for only two weeks too! We love all the night markets we have been to so far as well. Kevin had a few interviews in KL City Center, and he loves visiting the park by the Petronas Towers when he is there.


Aside from finding a home, what were some of the things you had to do or wanted to do upon your arrival in your new country?

Try Durian! We have not yet. We are building up to it by having Durian products, like crepes and cream puffs. Perhaps trying Durian for the first time would be great for the show!




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