The Baldwin Village Inn is a surprising refuge of peace smack dab in the middle of Toronto’s bustling downtown, mere blocks from museums, world-class hospitals, and several universities & colleges. Located on the strip of restaurants that make up Baldwin Village, the brightly painted yellow property features a beautiful garden all around, and a brick patio out front at which one of the hosts can often be found sitting in summer.
I headed over to the Inn recently to speak with owner Tess Concepcion and some of the Inn’s current boarders. (Full disclosure: I booked my parents a short stay during their first TO visit 6 months earlier).
Married couple and now bed-and-breakfast owners Tess & Roger emigrated to Canada from the Philippines, and both spent most of their careers within the corporate banking sector. Familiar with real estate investment, they began buying properties 30 years ago, engaging in flipping and renting of property. It is one of these old properties that went from rental to renovation to B&B. It was also a new home for the hosts who eventually sold their suburban house and moved on location for greater convenience. Transitioning to the B&B lifestyle takes time: Tess says it took her about three years to de-stress and find contentment in her new role, used to the fast paced adrenaline highs of investment banking as she was.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Tess and Roger’s active retirement are the ways in which their understanding of each other and themselves has deepened. Tess, who rises most mornings to make breakfast for their guests, is preferential to quiet periods of meditation. She was surprised to watch her husband display a social side never noticed before–he handles most of the communications while she thrives in her “behind-the-scenes” role in operations.
In 10 years, Tess & Roger have built an incredible network of people linked by having stayed in the intimate 6-bedroom Baldwin Village Inn, hailing from even as far as Tel Aviv. They see boarders that there for travel, but also academics in town for conferences or parents who have moved to the city so their children may receive the best medical treatment for rare conditions. Many of their former guests are “like family”.
Tess tells me that running a B&B has been the perfect segue into old age because it keeps her active and thinking, but does not put significant stress on her. She says the continual contact with young people helps keep her mental capacity high. “Because we are at this part of life, we are curious and happy. We have no agenda. That period of our lives is over. It allows people to be very open to who they are.”
Here are some tips I picked up from Tess’s experiences:
• Don’t try to copy success. One person’s skills, knowledge and aspirations don’t necessarily translate well. Even the definition of success and what makes one “happy” vary widely from individual to individual
• Look for success by utilizing what you already have & understand. For Tess & Roger, their job experience meant they had an edge on the real estate market & investments.
• Prepare & plan for retirement. “Cash flow is always a necessity. Fixed income is not enough. Expenses escalate.”
• Be patient. Retirement is a process, not just a flipped switch.
More photos from the Baldwin Village Inn & other properties: