Local couple, Rosie Finlay
and Gary Crouch, who will be exchanging life
in Lisburn for Bulgaria this month.
THERE have been many people in recent years
who have exchanged living in the Eastern bloc to live in
Northern Ireland. However, the situation has been reversed for
one local couple who are leaving Lisburn to start up a new life
Rosie Finlay and her partner Gary Crouch, who
live in Hill Street, have recently purchased a property in the
mountains of Bulgaria after falling in love with the area whilst
They are currently preparing for the move,
having sold up their home and belongings, taking only themselves
and their golden retriever dog, Flynn, with them.
The couple are also beginning a new business
venture with the move, as they will be opening a guesthouse,
called Rila Heights, in December.
Rosie said, "We went for a holiday there in
July last year and just fell in love with the place, so we did a
bit of research and thought, 'that's the place'.
"It's very inexpensive at the minute and the
mortgage is free so we'll have a bit of relaxation and then get
started with the business."
Rosie and Gary will leave Lisburn on
September 17 to begin their new life in the beautiful Rila
Mountains, near Rila National Park and Borovets Ski Resort close
to the cosmopolitan city of Sofia.
Rosie commented, "We discovered the area by
chance - we had been on a two week holiday with one week at the
beach, which isn't really our scene, and one week in the
mountains and we loved it - we didn't want to come home.
"It's absolutely gorgeous. We will be living
in the guesthouse, so when we go over we will have to get
everything ready for opening in December. It needs a bit of TLC
at the minute, its been renovated and it's very habitable but it
needs a bit of a western touch."
She continued, "My family think it's great,
they think we're very brave. I have three grownup children, one
of my daughters thought it was great, she would have come with
us only my granddaughter is only eleven and will be changing
schools, but she has already booked flights to come over in
"The others were a bit wary of mummy going
away but it so close, the world is a lot smaller these days."
With a large number of tourist attractions on
their doorstep, Rosie is expecting to be kept busy in the new
guesthouse, Rila Heights.
"From December to March or April there will
be a lot of skiers in the area," Rosie explained, "then through
to October the area is busy with hikers and walkers, it is a
very eco-friendly area that attracts a lot of tourists - that's
what we are hoping for anyway.
"We're really looking forward to the move,
although it's very nerve-wracking. We've just signed the final
papers and it's sort of like, 'oh my God, what have we done?'.
It makes us realise how much we are going to miss everyone.
"We can't wait to go and then at the same
time we're so nervous. It's very scary.
"We don't speak any foreign languages at all
but we plan to learn when we get there. There are local young
people who go to college and are learning English so we will
probably employ someone to teach us Bulgarian.
"The guesthouse will be multilingual anyway
with tourists coming from various countries, so hopefully they
will speak English, otherwise there will be a lot of pointing
going on for a while."
The preparations for the move are taking a
lot of time for Rosie and Gary, but it's not getting themselves
to Bulgaria that i causing the problems at the minute.
"It's taking more energy trying to get the
dog out to Bulgaria at the minute," she explained. "It was too
expensive to fly him as it would have cost £3,000 so we are
driving, but we need permits from each country and we will be
travelling through France, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Serbia
- it will take four days but where we go he goes."
She concluded, "I can't wait to get there,
I've only seen the house once, I can look at it on the internet
but it's not the same, we're just really looking forward to it."
You can view Rosie and Gary's new home on the
internet too by visiting their website at