Opening a Bed and Breakfast: a Retiree's Dream Business

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Over the course of your life, there’s a good chance you’ve fantasized about having a job that allows you to earn passive income with minimal exertion. A job where you have few responsibilities, while still making a healthy profit at the end of the day. Just imagine how nice it would be to never deal with an overbearing boss again! 


For most people, this hypothetical dream job is just that; a fantasy that will likely never materialize. Unless you’ve got skills with the potential to net exponential returns without a great deal of work after the initial investment of time and money, there’s little chance that you’ll ever achieve this dream. Or is there? 


As it turns out, there’s a good chance that you might be able to make this dream a reality once you reach retirement age. How can you do this, you ask? Well, by opening a bed and breakfast, of course! Although you may have to invest quite a bit of capital to get things off the ground, with luck you’ll have a stable, steady source of income and a pleasant pastime to keep you busy. 

Is a bed and breakfast right for you?

Now, before we go any further, we need to make something clear: this business idea isn’t one size fits all. Running a bed and breakfast isn’t for everyone! While this line of work will prove easier than a normal 9-5, you’re still going to have to do a few daily tasks to keep things running smoothly. If you’re looking for a completely hands-off business, then this probably isn’t for you. 


Then you have to consider the potentially limited/unreliable cash flow that running a bed and breakfast will provide you with. While you may see impressive returns during peak vacation season depending on where you live, this will likely be substantially reduced during off season. For those in need of a steady and dependable cash income, you might want to consider a different source of income. 


Lastly, you may need to consider the possibility that you might just not like running a bed and breakfast. If you’re going to be a successful host, you’ll need to be friendly and amicable towards guests, even when you’re not in a particularly good mood. You’ll need to prepare meals every morning, and clean up after your guests once they’ve left. If you think you’ll enjoy doing this, then this just might be the thing for you; if you don’t it might not be the thing for you. 

Opening your bed and breakfast

If you’ve decided that opening up a bed and breakfast is indeed right for you, then congratulations: with any luck, you’ll be set up and in business in no time! Before that happens, however, you’ll need to take care of a few preliminary concerns. Once you take care of these, you’ll be well on your way to getting set up in the business of running a bed and breakfast.

Do your research

In order to be successful in this business, the first thing you’re going to need to do is a whole lot of research. While bed and breakfasts in the United States are statistically quite profitable on average, you’ll have to know your local market exceptionally well if you want to have the same fiscal and business success. 


So what does this mean in practical terms? Well, for the most part, it means reading; a lot of reading. You’ll need to read up on market analyses, business advice and guides regarding how to get the most out of your prospective business venture. While this may seem a bit daunting at first, over time you’ll find yourself feeling more and more confident in your newfound knowledge and abilities. 

Find the right location

Next, you’ll need to find a place to set up your new bed and breakfast. Which location you choose will depend on what scope and scale you have in mind for your bed and breakfast. If you’re planning on running a simple one- or two-room establishment, you might be able to set up shop in your current home; if not, you may want to consider purchasing a larger building. If you’re going to go the second route, your best bet is to find a real estate agent in your area. 


How large you decide to make your new bed and breakfast depends largely on how much you want to invest in your new venture and how engaged you want to be in the day-to-day operation of your bed and breakfast. If you want to have a small, hands-on bed and breakfast with yourself as chief cook and bottle washer, smaller is better. If you want to rent out more than 6 rooms at a time, while employees do most of the work, you’ll need a larger property. 

Do the paperwork

Now that you’ve got a place to set up your bed and breakfast and a general idea of what to do with it, your next step should be acquiring the necessary paperwork and permits to open up your bed and breakfast. This will vary widely depending on how large your bed and breakfast will be, which state and city you’re living in and how much of the initial investment you’ll be providing out of pocket. 


If you’re planning on buying property to set up your bed and breakfast but don’t have the cash for the initial investment, you might be able to get a small business loan with surprisingly low interest rates. Whether or not you’re able to acquire this type of funding will depend on how foolproof your business plan is and which bank you work with, but with some diligent planning you might be able to get a very favorable loan

Prepare the property for guests

Regardless whether you’ve set up your bed and breakfast in your current home or in a new independent building, you’ll need to do some work on it before it’s ready for the arrival of your first guests. At a bare minimum, you should furnish the guest rooms with beds, linens, towels, and as many creature comforts as you can afford. In this regard, the more luxurious you can make it the better; if your guests enjoy their stay, they’re more likely to leave a good review! 


For those who’ve chosen to buy a new property with a large number of rooms, it’s likely that this will also require you to hire some employees to take care of cooking, cleaning and reception duties. In order to find employees that are well suited to these tasks, conduct a thorough interview process and accept only the most suitable candidates. 

Open for business!

Now that you’ve taken all the preliminary steps and you’ve prepared everything for your first day in business, you’ve got to find yourself some guests. In days gone by, this would have been quite a challenge, but thanks to modern technology finding guests is easier than it’s ever been before. With the click of a button, you can have your rooms occupied by happy guests in no time! 


There are a wide variety of options available when it comes to finding guests for your bed and breakfast. The most popular options are AirBnB and If you want maximum exposure, you’ll want to list your bed and breakfast on both of these platforms. You’ll have guests before you know it! 


Well, that’s it; you’ve worked hard, and you’re finally open for business. It might have taken some doing, but all your hard work has paid off and you’re now the proud owner-operator of a bed and breakfast. From here on out, you’ll host interesting guests from around the world, make happy memories and enjoy the simple pleasures of life as a bed and breakfast host. We wish you the best of luck!

Comments (3)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Theresa - interesting.  I never thought of owning a bed and breakfast as a passive operation.  It seems like a lot of hard work.  

Apr 05, 2021 07:56 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Good morning Theresa! Very interesting article that you wrote. Thank you for sharing.

Apr 05, 2021 08:18 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Happy Monday Theresa, It takes the right kind of couple to do it and I think it would be fun, but my wife is to shy for it.


Apr 05, 2021 09:23 AM