When Erica Saar and Andy Baldridge met in Spanish class at Oak Harbor High School in the late 1990s, they couldn’t have guessed that years later they’d be using those rusty skills as they tried to get by in Argentina.
Many people dream of dropping everything and moving away, but the Baldridges, including their six children, really followed through.
Their unique journey will be broadcast nationally on HGTV’s “House Hunters International” next week.
“WE DID it all for the experience, mostly for our kids,” said Erica Saar-Baldridge.
Saar-Baldridge has traveled to 50 countries and the family had done several vacations abroad, but she said they always felt like they were missing some of the experience. In December 2017, the family arrived in Bariloche, Argentina in the Patagonia region.
The children were 11 and under, which Saar-Baldridge said she and her husband agreed made it the perfect time for that kind of experience.
“It’s been my number one goal to raise my kids to be global citizens,” she said.
HOWEVER, THE two youngest, twins Calista and Colette, 3, were a little young to fully remember it. Saar-Baldridge said she hopes the episode will serve as something to look back on and remember more of the family’s time there.
Saar-Baldridge said she knew a friend who’d filmed with “House Hunters” and had a “great experience.” She decided to reach out to the show and explain the couple’s plan and the reasoning behind it.
Their episode is set to air 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5.
SAAR-BALDRIDGE and Baldridge were both raised in Oak Harbor. Her father, Greg Saar, owns Saar’s Super Saver Foods. Baldridge’s parents, Porter and Patricia Baldridge, still live in the city.
The couple met and dated in high school, but it was “nothing serious” at that time, Saar-Baldridge said.
She graduated in 2001, and he in 1999. They went their separate ways in college, he to the University of Washington and she to Eastern Washington University.
A while after college, Baldridge sent a friend request to his high school girlfriend.
“It just went from there,” said Saar-Baldridge.
THE COUPLE, before moving to Argentina, lived in Bellingham. The family has moved back to Washington state, but she said it was difficult to leave. She works as the human resources director for Kulshan Brewing Co. in Seattle, which she was able to do remotely. He is a data scientist at Boeing.
During the year abroad, the language barrier was the biggest hurdle for the family. All six children entered primary school and had lessons held exclusively in Spanish despite not knowing the language before arriving.
“Our kids did better than we would’ve expected,” Saar-Baldridge said.
She said when the children had friends over, they would often speak their own language to each other.
“It somehow was never really a problem,” she said.
DURING THE last six months there, her older daughter was speaking only in Spanish with her friends.
The welcoming nature of Argentinians made the transition relatively smooth, she said. Most people were friendly and willing to help whenever the family needed it.
“Everything you hear about the culture proved true,” Saar-Baldridge said. “We made some really, really good friends.”
THE FAMILY eagerly awaits the airing of their “House Hunters International” episode; however, they’re also a little nervous.
Saar-Baldridge said they haven’t seen the final product yet and don’t know what to expect.
She’s a tad wary the editing will be done in a way to emphasize the “drama.”
The family, after going through a fairly extensive process to be selected to feature on the show, spent six days filming. Saar-Baldridge said five of those days were 12 to 15 hours, which could be hard on the kids.