If you're thinking of a second career as an innkeeper after retiring from your first career, consider Lancaster, PA. Lancaster has just received the top spot on U.S. News & World Report's 2019 Best Places to Retire in the United States list. This list is based on six factors: housing affordability, desirability, retiree taxes, the happiness index, job market and health care quality.
Click here for the report.
The following article highlights recent acknowledgement in the national news of Lancaster City and Lancaster County. What a great place to consider in your bed & breakfast search.
LNP – SPOTLIGHT ON LANCASTER AS NATIONAL PUBLICATIONS LAUD LOCAL EFFORTSArticle featured on Lancaster Online.
Newsweek includes Lancaster in its 50 Best Places to Live. Forbes puts Lancaster in its Top 10 Coolest Places. Kiplinger’s recognizes Lancaster in its Top 9 Best Places to Retire and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes a lengthy piece hailing Lancaster as a model for civic coalitions driving successful revitalization.
In some cases, the focus is on Lancaster city and in others, the geographic reference is Lancaster County. Either way, in just the past few months, national publications have picked up on Lancaster’s successes and have put this community in with good company across the country.
Some of this recognition is data-driven, with different quality of life and economic factors reviewed and weighted to help generate the lists.
Additionally, at least in the case of Friedman and with Kiplinger’s, site visits and discussions with locals also helped to shape their positive views.
As a community, we should be thoughtful about what this recent spike in national recognition means.
We’re doing something right
First, it absolutely means that Lancaster is doing some things right. The recognition by these publications isn’t the result of this community pitching itself just to get on the list.
Instead, it is an organic outcome of decades of work that is shaped by strong community values and a sense of identity. And while it isn’t necessarily in Lancaster’s DNA to celebrate its successes, it is worth pausing to acknowledge that outsiders are holding Lancaster up as an enviable model.
The work is not done
Second, just because Lancaster landed on several prominent national lists doesn’t mean this community is perfect or that efforts to strengthen its economic health and quality of life are done.
In fact, for many community leaders, these articles and lists offer insights into new peer sets and provide a lens into the types of data others are reviewing to assess community health. Across business, government and the nonprofit sectors, this moment in time recognition generates healthy discussion on what is being done well, current areas of focus as well as future threats to the community’s well-being.
It’s not the whole story
And third, locally, we are our own harshest critics, which is an element of what gives this community the drive to tackle tough and broad economic and social challenges such as workforce development, transportation and infrastructure, housing affordability, poverty and diversity.
There is always a small set of vocal voices who struggle to find something positive to say on any topic. Yet, not all in this community have experiences that align with what is captured in a few paragraphs in a national publication. Those are important voices to hear.
The recognition Lancaster has received over the past few months is something most communities only hope to achieve.
Let’s celebrate that accomplishment and use that momentum to take Lancaster to the next level.
• Lisa Riggs is president of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County.
I love summer. I love the warmth, the long days, wearing sandals, taking trips, shopping for produce at farm stands and the spectacular sunsets. Summer in Lancaster is warm, with average temperatures in the mid-80's, but highs can hit 100. Some summers are wet enough to keep the grass green, but not this year. Our grass is brown, but it will bounce back. Lancaster is a year-round destination, but some things are just better during the summer. Our farmers markets are stocked with local produce and farm stands pop up all over the countryside, selling whatever they grow or make. Flowers, pies, zucchini and corn. Lots of sweet corn. Local sweet corn is another thing I love about summer in Lancaster. There are outdoor festivals, outdoor theaters and miles of trails to hike. Check out www.discoverlancaster.com/events.asp for a taste of all there is to do in Lancaster this summer. If you love the water, try a self-guided paddle tour in the Susquehanna: http://www.shanksmare.com/ Or, try a day at Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach: http://mtgretnalake.com/ You can also cool off with a visit Duke's Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland: https://www.dutchwonderland.com/DukesLagoon When it's time to relax, try one of these beers on tap: http://www.discoverlancaster.com/lancastories/whats-on-tap-summer Lastly, I'm always interested in pet-friendly places to take my Wheaten Terrier, Finn: http://www.discoverlancaster.com/lancastories/pet-friendly-lancaster-pa If only summer could last a few extra months.
The Lancaster Barnstormers are Lancaster County's professional baseball team and part of the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. They compete against the York Revolution, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Long Island Ducks, Somerset Patriots, New Britain Bees, Sugar Land Skeeters and the Road Warriors.
The Barnstormers inaugural season was in 2005. Prior to this it had been 44 years since Lancaster County had a professional baseball team. The Barnstormer's play at Clipper Magazine Stadium which is a 6000 seat stadium located in the Lancaster City's Northwest Corridor.
Forbes published this top 10 list yesterday, and Lancaster City made the list! Lancaster is a world-renowned tourism destination and a wonderful environment to operate a small business that can serve these travelers. It is an honor to be included in this Forbes list with cities like San Antonio, Texas and Savannah, Georgia. Come for a visit and see for yourself!
The full list is here: www.forbes.com/sites/annabel/2018/02/26/the-10-coolest-u-s-cities-to-visit-in-2018/
Lancaster County has outdoor spaces to keep the locals busy, and the parks are available for our visitors, too.
The Lancaster County Parks include trails that follow former railroad tracks, a scenic overlook with a panoramic view of the Susquehanna river, acres of preserved natural land, an historic plantation which was once owned by George Washington's Adjutant General and the list goes on. Here is a link to a brochure with details about these parks:
The Pennsylvania Game Commission manages the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. This 5,000+ acres is designated for the protection of of wildlife, an specifically for water fowl. It is know as a migration stop for snow geese. Learn more here:
Lancaster County is home to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA. Situated on 80+ acres, the sanctuary is home to the Speedwell Wolves. Guided tours are available. For more information click here: https://wolfsanctuarypa.org
The Lancaster County Conservancy manages several preserves, and they even manage their own Airbnb. Here is a link to the many trails, fishing areas, wild flower preserves and more: https://www.lancasterconservancy.org/preserves/
Long's Park is an 80 acre city park and home to a petting farm, children's playgrounds, a 3 acre spring fed lake, tennis courts and an amphitheater. It is notable for the summer music series, featuring free outdoor Sunday concerts all summer long. Long's Park also hosts one of America's top 50 fine art festivals. This year will be the 40th annual festival on Labor Day weekend. Click here for more info: information: http://longspark.org/about-the-foundation/
These are just a few of the many recreation spaces found in Lancaster County.
The first step is to determine what you can afford to purchase. This is not the fun part, but it will make the rest of your search so much more productive. If you plan to finance your purchase of an existing bed & breakfast you will need a commercial mortgage, and the structure and terms of a commercial mortgage are very different from a residential mortgage.
First, you will need a minimum downpayment of 20% of the purchase price. Banks often have a portfolio loan product that is suitable for a B&B purchase. This means the mortgage is funded by the bank and kept in their "portfolio". The underwriting requirements can be very different from one lender to the next. Most B&B's are not generating enough income to satisfy the lender as the exclusive source of income. In reality, the B&B income can be sufficient for making the mortgage payments, but the lender may need to see additional income. Many B&B owners have an additional source of income, including retirement/pension income or from a job outside of the B&B.
Next, the typical residential mortgage is amortized over 30 years. A commercial mortgage is typically amortized over a shorter period of time with a balloon payment due after 5 or 7 years. If you have a principal balance on your mortgage when the balloon payment is due you will need to refinance the loan at that time.
Lastly, commercial interest rates are higher than those for a residential mortgage. They run approximately 1% to 2% higher than their residential counterparts. Commercial financing is higher risk for the lender so it is more expensive for the consumer.
The bottom line is when compared to a residential mortgage you will need more money down, you will have a higher interest rate and you will have a shorter amortization schedule.
For these reasons, it is best to explore your financing qualifications and costs prior to finding the "perfect inn". You will be able to evaluate prospective B&B's with greater confidence knowing your financing options up front.
Yankee Magazine has a great article from their September/October 2013 issue . The article takes the reader through a day in the life of the innkeepers at the Inn Vicotria in Chester, Vermont. It is a good snapshot of what it is really like to live the dream. Here is the article:
There are a couple of networks of experienced innkeepers in Lancaster County. These groups are exceptional resources for members, especially if you are a brand new owner-operator of a local B&B. Members offer decades of experience in the hospitality industry and can offer everything from recommendations for a reliable plumber to who is offering the best credit card processing.
One group is Authentic Bed and Breakfasts of Lancaster County, PA. This is a group of about 30 B&B's. Learn more on the website: http://www.authenticbandb.com
Another organization is Lancaster County Bed & Breakfast Inns Association. This is 14 local B&B's with more information on their website:
Lancaster City has a nice art scene, lots of great restaurants, an historic market house, a professional theater and so much more. It is great to see this article in the New York Post today that highlights many of the shops, galleries and restaurants. Read the article here: http://nyp.st/2db8hgJ
Lisa Naples, Realtor
I'm enjoying my 18th year of selling residential real estate in Lancaster County. In my past career I was an innkeeper for a 9 room local B&B. Now I enjoy the best of both worlds - finding new owners for Lancaster County bed & breakfasts. Please leave comments, I'd love to have your feedback!