So You Want To Buy A B&B?

The innkeeper's gracious life lures more job switchers--who soon learn how much hard work is involved

At a moment when the stock-market slump has disappointed millions who dreamed of early retirement, and when layoffs have left the workplace more stressful than ever, one escape route beckons brightly for many older employees. They imagine moving to a pretty village, buying a big old Victorian home with a wraparound porch and opening a bed-and-breakfast. They see themselves baking cranberry muffins, tending the flower garden and watching the money roll in from grateful guests.

The resilience of that dream can be measured in dollars: eager buyers have bid up the price of an existing B&B to $159,000 a room, or...

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