Grass Lake Family Stars in HGTV’s House Hunters International
A fascination with the HGTV television show House Hunters International led to a Grass Lake family starring in their very own episode. When Shannon Maynard found out they were moving to Augsburg Germany for husband Chris’s job, she reached out to the HGTV’s House Hunter International to apply to the show. “I have watched the show many times and was fascinated by the families who made the decision to move across the world”.
The Maynard family, husband Chris and wife Shannon, 4 kids; David (13), Aaron (10), Nathan (7) and Charlotte (6) have lived in Grass Lake for the past 2 years however the kids have been attending Grass Lake Community Schools since 2009.
In the fall of 2015, Chris called me to let me know the European IT manager was leaving the company. His boss had asked him to spend one week a month in Germany handling the office until they could find his replacement. (Chris was the North American IT manager at that time.) I joked with Chris that he should just take the position. When Chris mentioned my comment to his boss, he loved the idea. So what started out as a joke ended with a 3-5 year contract. “I love traveling and had always dreamed of visiting Venice and London so the idea of living here short-term was appealing” Shannon said.
Applying for the show involved talking with the casting director, filling out a lengthy questionnaire followed by two phone interviews and a video introducing the family.
When asked about the whole experience of the show, Shannon replied “It was really interesting to see everything that goes into an episode of the show. We spent five days filming everything that made up the 30 minute episode. Although filming was very tiring, we enjoyed the different activities we did in Augsburg and it gave us a unique view of our new city.”
When asked whether they thought about millions of people watching them, Shannon’s response was “We thought about our family and friends watching us, but not millions of people.” I also asked if they thought of themselves as being famous, a question my son wanted me to pose to them. Shannon’s response was “ Absolutely not. We love sharing our story and how we reached our decision to move. Being part of HHI allowed us to do this, but does not make us famous. Actually, most of our friends here in Germany have never heard of the show.”
Chris started his new position in January of 2016 and the rest of the family moved to Germany in March. The move took about six weeks to have their possessions packed, shipped and arrive in Germany. The family settled in Augsburg, which is in southern Germany, about an hour northwest of Munich. It is one of Germany’s oldest cities (founded in 15 BC) and has a population of approximately 286k people. The weather is a bit milder than that of Grass Lake and the time zone is 6 hours ahead.
The family plans on moving back to their home in Grass Lake in the fall of 2018 when Chris’s contract is up.
The family has traveled extensively while in Germany. When they first announced to the kids they were moving, part of the promise was that they each got to choose one place in Europe and they would travel to the selected city. To date they have been to 10 different countries while living in Europe with Italy “definitely” being their favorite.
The children all take German in school and have learned quite a bit. “The kids are adapting as well as can be expected. It has been more difficult for the older two, but they have made friends and have handled the transition well.” The family was back home this past summer for a few weeks.
When asked about the differences between Germany and Grass Lake, Shannon responded “Honestly, it would be easier for me to list the similarities. Nearly everything is different here- the language, the people, the culture. I think Americans tend to be more friendly and outgoing. We have found most Germans keep to themselves and this can come across as unfriendly. However, most Germans we have met are open to foreigners and patient with us as we’re learning the language. Being located in central Europe, we can travel just a couple of hours and be in a completely different culture.”
“Over the past year we have experienced many new, exciting and scary things. We have chosen to see it all as part of an adventure. Filming House Hunters International is just another part of our adventure.”
The episode can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIo83cDKNhA