Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 22, 2013

Vacation dream home

Ashland native and family to appear on ‘International House Hunters’

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Jeff and Natalie Hastings are close to living the dream of many — to own a beach house in a beautiful, exotic locale.

The couple will appear on International House Hunters at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday; the program is shown on HGTV.

Mrs. Hastings, daughter of Dick and Trish Wheeler of Ashland, said she had husband Jeff, 38, and sons Colin, 7, and Graham, 4, live in Cincinnati — he is vice president of risk at 5/3 Bank and she is director of strategic communications for the  Cincinnati Museum Center and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. They decided they’d like a vacation home in Nicaragua.

“Many people ask us, ‘Why Nicaragua?’”  Hastings said. “More than seven years ago. we read an article about it in the New York Times and were intrigued and traveled there as a couple. Once we began taking our family with us, we wanted to make it part of our lives permanently. We love the people of Nicaragua and the authentic cultural experience you can get there. It’s also safe, affordable and beautiful.” She also said the temperature never dips below 70 degrees in the area they’re interested in and the people are friendly.

Mrs. Hastings said the area they’re interested in is rustic.

“The beaches outside of Leon, Nicaragua, on the Pacific Coast are beautiful and relatively undeveloped,” she said. “And the nearby city of Leon is a scenic Spanish colonial city with two UNESCO world heritage sites. To our knowledge, the Leon area has never been featured on international TV, and we thought this would be a unique way to help put our favorite destination on the map.”

The family is looking for an affordable vacation home that also is a down payment on retirement. “We definitely plan to move to Nicaragua, just not right away,” Mrs. Hastings said, adding they’re hoping to find a traditional Nicaraguan-style beach house in a quiet fishing village for $150,000, with four bedrooms, a pool and a nice kitchen.

“It was also very important to us not to buy a property that was in a development, because we wanted to interact with the local community, not be sequestered into a gated community,” she said.

 Mrs. Hastings, who graduated from Paul G. Blazer High School in 1997, said her high school experience has prepared her for spending time in Nicaragua.

“I learned the bulk of my Spanish in Mrs. Susan Stucker’s Spanish classes,” she said.

As for having a television show provide help in finding the house, Mrs. Hastings said she thought it would be fun.

“Last year when we got serious about searching for a house in Nicaragua, I contacted the producers and shared a little about our family and our story, and it went from there,” she said.

The program was filmed in part in Cincinnati and will feature the family’s home in the neighborhood of Anderson.

“I love any chance to highlight our beautiful city and all that it offers,” she said, noting she can’t reveal whether they found a vacation home. She did say being part of the television show was enjoyable.

“It was a lot of  fun to do the show, but it was a lot of hours in the sun, as we were looking at beach houses,” she said. “Would we do it again? Ask me again after I see the episode!”

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.