Living the Good Life, Rent-Free
by Gary Dunn,
of the Caretaker Gazette
Property caretaking has become increasingly popular in recent years.
With theft and vandalism on the rise, many property owners, even in rural locations, are
finding that it's cost effective to find a caretaker to watch over their property. Thea
Dunn, editor of The Caretaker Gazette, has been researching the field and found an
increased demand, across the country, for property caretakers.
More people than ever are looking for property caretaking
opportunities. They have discovered that caretaking is an interesting and varied
profession, offering unique rewards. People wanting a lifestyle change, retirees seeking a
second career, and city dwellers searching for new opportunities have discovered
caretaking. Many newcomers to the caretaking field have spent their entire lives in cities
or suburban areas. They're motivated by the desire to live a simple, rural life and enjoy
the challenge of living in harmony with nature. Successful caretakers are self-reliant
types who enjoy an independent lifestyle, free from the constraints of a 9-5 job and the
constant scrutiny of supervisors. Working independently, they manage their own time, take
care of the property and fulfil their caretaking responsibilities at their own pace.
Caretaking can also be an inexpensive way to experience life in a
specific geographic area. Housing is provided by the landowner, enabling the caretaker to
live rent-free without incurring rent or mortgage obligations. Caretaking also enables
people to leave the rat race behind, along with the crime, pollution and other problems
associated with urban blight.
On the landowner side, Dunn reports that a growing number of farmers,
ranchers, homesteaders, camps and nature preserves are utilising the services of qualified
caretakers. "The average age of American farmers is 55. There are a large number over
65 who will retire and have no sons or daughters who want to take over. They are
increasingly turning to caretakers to maintain their land." The benefits are
significant: a good caretaker can ensure that property is cared for even when the owner is
no longer able to do it himself the land is preserved for future generations rather
than being sold off to developers.
Locations and responsibilities for caretaker jobs are as varied as the
landowners and caretakers themselves. Caretakers may be single persons, couples or
families. Landowners are not always individuals: nature retreats, ecological preserves,
camps, and national or state forests and parks also employ caretakers. According to Dunn,
"Depending upon the position and its location, caretaking can give one an opportunity
to work in dozens of areas, among them: grounds keeping, land stewardship, farming,
organic gardening, forestry, ranching, animal husbandry and fisheries."
Caretaking can also be an inexpensive way to explore other areas of the
country before settling down in a specific location. A caretaker usually lives alone on
the property of an absentee landowner. In this situation, the ability to function
independently and fulfil one's responsibilities without daily guidance and instruction
from the landowner are important qualifications. Although a love of nature, solitude, and
the simple life is important, having hobbies and interests that can be pursued in what are
often remote areas is extremely helpful. Autonomous caretaker positions may include
winterkeepers at lodges and camps, managers for "gentleman" farmers and
ranchers, or caretakers of resort properties during off seasons.
While many landowners seek experienced caretakers with specific skills,
others are willing to take on and train people with general backgrounds. As with most
other occupations, such traits as honesty, common sense, and flexibility are key
prerequisites. For those who do not yet own a piece of land of their own, caretaking
enables them to learn the self reliance and survival skills that will enable them to be
prepared when they do acquire their own property. Many people find that caretaking evolves
into a lifelong career. With solid backgrounds in caretaking and excellent references from
previous employers, they are in great demand by landowners and are able to find positions
throughout the U.S.
How does one get started in caretaking? Where does a landowner go to
find caretakers? Dunn will send a free report that answers these and other questions to
any of your readers who send her a large self-addressed, stamped, envelope. (The report
discusses caretaking from both the landowner and caretaker perspectives.)
PO Box 4005 Bergheim, TX 78004 USA