Historic B&B’s Are a Dream Come True for a Working Retirement

For some people, the thought of retirement conjures images of lazy days spent lounging around the house with nothing to do. But for others, the idea of a retirement full of endless leisure time is simply unappealing. Owning and operating a historic bed and breakfast can be the perfect solution if you want to stay active and engaged during your retirement years.

Not only will you get to stay busy and interact with people from all over the world, but you'll also get to live in and care for a beautiful historic home. And who knows, you might even make lifelong friends along the way.

If you're thinking about making a historic bed and breakfast your retirement dream, here are a few things to keep in mind.

You'll need to be organized and detail-oriented. Running a bed and breakfast is a lot of work, and it's not for everyone. If you're not an organized and detail-oriented person, it's likely that you'll quickly become overwhelmed by the daily tasks involved in running a B&B. From keeping track of bookings and reservations to cleaning rooms and preparing breakfast, there's a lot to do.

Marianne M Nolte from Imagine Financial Services comments, “this may be a great way to provide a supplemental income stream in retirement but proceed with caution. Before taking this leap, research how this will impact your retirement lifestyle and finances. Do you have the time and energy to manage a B&B, or will you feel tied down? Will the added income push you into a higher tax bracket? Also, be aware that you may lose your capital gains exclusion.”

It would help if you were comfortable working long hours. If you're used to a traditional 9-5 job, owning a bed and breakfast will be a bit of an adjustment. Because you'll be running the business by yourself (or with a partner), you'll need to be comfortable working long hours, including nights and weekends.

“I'm a financial advisor and have learned some interesting things from watching and guiding people through the transition into retirement. It can be different for every person or couple when they do move into retirement. I find that couples enjoy their time off for a while but then crave some additional structure or engagement in their lives. I'm for a couple operating B&B in retirement as long as they are doing it in a financially responsible way,” comments Nathan Mueller from Blackbird Financial Planning.

You'll need to be a people person. One of the best things about owning a bed and breakfast is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. The common thread among these B&B owners is the value they put in meeting new people from all over the world and the friendships that develop as a result.

Waldo Emerson Inn, Maine

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Image Credit: Waldo Emerson Inn.

Built by Ralph Waldo Emerson's great uncle, the Waldo Emerson Inn in Kennebunkport was voted one of New England's most historic and romantic inns. Ralph Waldo Emerson spent ten summers writing in the home, once a safe house on the Underground Railroad.

Many architectural features include handpainted Wedgwood tiles, Indian shutters, and original glass and pine floors. Six romantic rooms, four with wood-burning fireplaces. The original part of the house was built in 1753, and the new addition was added in 1784.

Owner Hana Pevny wanted a lifestyle business that would utilize all her past career experience (technology, business, estate management) while allowing the flexibility to pursue her passion for travel. “It also allows me to meet fascinating people from all over the world while indulging in my love of food and hospitality.”

After she was laid off from a major tech company (HP) while working in London, she decided to attend culinary school at 50. She attended Leith's School of Food and Wine (as in Prue Leith of Great British Baking Show fame). Combining this knowledge with all her previous careers, buying a B&B was a natural fit to transition into a working retirement. 

Lakeside Country Inn, British Columbia

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Image Credit: Lakeside Country Inn.

Are you dreaming of a lifestyle change and love meeting people? Then, this is a great opportunity. The iconic Lakeside Country Inn has been a staple in the Savona/Kamloops community since 1925. Originally set up as a hunting and fishing lodge, this 9-room Inn is operating in the summer months as a bed and breakfast with guests from all over the world.

The Lakeside Country Inn has been in the Sherman family for more than sixty-five years. The rooms are all meticulously updated and decorated, affording gorgeous views of Kamloops Lake. The owners live in the main building, which has a guest room off the veranda, lobby, breakfast sunroom, breakfast kitchen, and laundry. The home has four bedrooms, a kitchen, a music studio, and a wraparound deck with amazing views.

The property sits on .78acres of manicured gardens and has a large swimming dock with plenty of private areas to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and a book. Keep the house as your principal residence and continue to operate as an Inn, or bring in multiple families and turn it into a lake property. 

Owners Margaret and Donn Sherman took over operations from Donn's parents and have run the Lakeside Country Inn for 35 years. They took it from a small roadside inn and expanded it to an updated nine-room bed and breakfast. The majority of their clients are international and repeat guests.

Margaret and Donn have decided to spend their twilight years with their extended family and friends. They hope to sell the Lakeside Country Inn to a like-minded couple who appreciate the property's unique features and lifestyle.

“We have been reflecting on the more than thirty-five years that we have been innkeepers at Lakeside Country Inn. We currently operate the Inn for only three months of the year as we are enjoying semi-retirement and approaching retirement. However, we have the joy of working together with our boys as they grew up at the Inn,” comments Margaret.

“It is our guests who continue to inspire us to CARE and Create A Remarkable Experience. We have had the privilege of meeting so many people from all over the world. Visitors from all walks of life and all corners of the world have enriched our lives with their stories. We know that more adventures are ahead but have been so fortunate to have been innkeepers.”

Maitland Manor Bed & Breakfast, Washington

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Image Credit: Maitland Manor.

Maitland Manor is the closest bed and breakfast to the Hurricane Ridge area of Olympic National Park, located in the city of Port Angeles, with views of both the mountains and the sea. Blending Victorian-era architectural touches with updated decor and high-tech amenities, this Manor on Washington's northern coast is just across from Victoria, B.C.

The home was completed in 1926 and was first used as a bed and breakfast in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s. Eventually, the owners retired, and it once again became a family home, then a full-house VRBO. Sydney & Alex Rubin purchased the home in late 2017 and reopened it as a fully licensed bed and breakfast hotel in March 2019.

Maitland Manor Bed & Breakfast offers locally sourced and seasonally changing three-course breakfasts and was just named “Best Luxury B&B in Western Washington” by LuxLife Magazine.

After spending their entire career in the television industry, Sydney and Alex decided it was time to move on to something completely different.

Sydney spent her career in marketing and brand development and loves to cook and bake. Alex was a television news photojournalist who could fix almost anything and always loved hosting guests. Their skills seemed perfectly suited to make the transition to innkeepers. They purchased the house at the end of 2017 and continued to work at their jobs in Seattle (2.5 hours drive from Port Angeles) while simultaneously getting the house ready to open as a B&B.

Sydney comments, “by March 2019, Maitland Manor was ready to receive guests, and we haven't looked back! I wouldn't call us “retired” as we work very hard and long hours, but we love our new lives and don't regret retiring from television for a moment!”

The Gables Wine Country Inn, California

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Image Credit: The Gables Wine Country Inn.

The Gables Wine Country Inn is a National Historic Registry property in Santa Rosa, California, and a year-round destination in Sonoma County wine country. The property was settled in the 1850s. The property is on 3-1/2 acres with a seasonal creek, a vineyard, fruit and citrus trees, vegetable gardens, a lavender field, and five redwoods towering over 120 feet. 

The barn, cottage, and family outhouse were built around that time. The barn is one of the oldest standing barns in the county. The main residence, a gothic Victorian, was built in 1877 and has seven guest rooms. 

In late 2010 while living in St. Louis, MO, Pam & Larry Willis were contemplating retirement and visited Kentucky bourbon country. They stayed at a lovely B&B with great owners for a few nights and thought that maybe they could do it too. A few days later, they moved to another B&B in another town. 

The 2nd experience was horrific, and the owner was completely clueless. Pam said, “If this guy can do it, we can do it.” 

They connected with a lodging broker, bought two tickets to San Francisco, and flew out on a whim. They visited Paso Robles, Monterey, Napa, and Sonoma County. “Sonoma County is a great place to live. We have wonderful guests and have developed many friendships all across the globe.”

Goodman House Historic Inn, California

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Image Credit: Goodman House.

The Goodman House was built in 1906 for the Horace Goodman family, and the house is steeped in Northern California history. Current owners Tom and Margo Graham opened the home as a bed and breakfast in 2002.

The B&B is located in Chico, California. It's within walking distance of the charming shops and cafes in downtown Chico, California State University at Chico, art galleries, museums, and the famed Bidwell Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S. 

The B&B features beautifully restored Colonial Revival architecture and is on the city's list of historic homes. Nestled on a beautiful tree-lined esplanade, the grand home offers five well-appointed guest rooms, and a delicious, two-course breakfast served each morning.

Tom and Margo Graham retired from their jobs in advertising and teaching and had always enjoyed staying in B&Bs. “The personal connection with owners and guests was something we really liked. Entertaining had always been enjoyable; cooking and conversation were things we loved,” comments the Grahams.

“After searching a bit, we came across the Goodman House for sale. At the time, it was law offices. It needed a change of use permit, lots of renovation, and a lot to learn about running a business. It will be 20 years that we have owned and run the B&B. We have met so many lovely people. The additional bonus is the economics of living in your business and the significant tax savings it provides.”

Inns at St. Albans, Missouri

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Image Credit: Inn at St Albans

The Inns at St. Albans are nestled in a picturesque village along the Missouri River.  The Old Barn Inn Restaurant is one of three historic properties that anchor the community. It was originally constructed as a barn in 1840 and is now used for intimate inside dining and outdoor events.

The estate served as the summer home of Irene Walter Johnson, Oscar Johnson's wife, in the early 1900s. The Studio Inn now allows guests to enjoy overnight stays and open-air parties. In addition, Head's Store, a St. Albans institution since its inception in 1892, has maintained its commitment to providing food and a meeting place for the community.

Owner Datra Herzog has owned and operated the Inns at St. Albans with her husband in different iterations since 2004. Currently, they have 28 bedrooms and operate year-round. However, January and February are low seasons and are typically only open to groups of 6 rooms or more. 

The Inn is ideally situated in a planned community 10 minutes west of the St. Louis Metropolitan area and can access amenities within the Country Club, such as 36 holes of championship golf, ranked highly in Missouri. 

A lake, three hiking trails, a biking destination, cooking schools, a general store in operation since 1892, and historic rooms in several buildings of historical significance, one even designed by renowned architect Theodore Link offer plenty of options for guests. The Inns at St Albans is best known for its wedding weekend experience, corporate retreats, and golf outings. 

“Retiree might be a stretch since we are both now fully engaged in running our bed and breakfast while my husband is still on several publicly-traded boards as a director. But we are retired from our first career,” comments Herzog.

Owning a B&B Isn't Just A Working Retirement Dream

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Image Credit: Dennis Shirshikov.

Dennis Shirshikov and his wife purchased a single-family residence in upstate New York, intending to turn it into a bed and breakfast.

We aren't retired yet, but we own the bed and breakfast and plan on retiring shortly. My wife is 30, and I'm 35. We plan on retiring in 2024. We will be operating a 4-room bed and breakfast once we retire. The historic home, built in 1851, is located directly on a river and is surrounded by fishing, hunting, skiing, and all manner of outdoor activities. It's also just a beautiful place to spend a few days.

“We decided to purchase the bed and breakfast because we love entertaining and wanted to find a way to combine that with early retirement. Many of our friends have pre-booked the bed and breakfast to enjoy it with us once we retire for weeks or months at a time. We also absolutely love the nature and change of seasons here in Upstate NY,” comments Shirshikov.

Owning and operating a historic B&B can be a dream come true for those looking for a working retirement option. With some planning and elbow grease, turning a fixer-upper into a luxurious destination for travelers can be a reality. So if this is your dream, owning a B&B could be your perfect retirement plan.

Featured Image Courtesy of Lakeside Country Inn.


Casandra is the founder of Karpiak Caravan Adventure Family Travel and a mother to two adventurous young boys. Casandra is a family-focused, adventure travel advocate.

A Toronto native with Danish roots, she became an avid traveler after her first trip to Europe as a college student. Casandra's goal is to provide an educational experience for her family when she travels. When visiting historic sites like D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, or learning about ranch life at a dude ranch on horseback, it’s always a priority to provide an educational experience and to learn about the culture and history of each destination.

You can follow her adventures at karpiakcaravan or get in touch via her social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.