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Live the Good Life rent-free as a caretaker
By the Out West staff

Caretaker Gazette

Best source for caretaker jobs!

Contains property caretaking/ housesitting openings, advice and information for property caretakers, housesitters & landowners. Published six tmes a year since 1983, subscribers receive 130+ property caretaking opportunities each issue.

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 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, RVers seeking a break from their motorhomes and trailers, 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 caretakersare 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 ofthe property and fulfill 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 utilizing 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," she said. "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 and 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 someone the opportunity to work in dozens of areas. Work can include 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 fulfill 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 a person get started in caretaking? Where does a landowner go to find caretakers? A good first stop is getting a subscription to the Caretaker Gazette, the world's only publication dedicated to caretaking. The cost is $29.95 ($US) for one year (six issues per year) or $49.95 for two years from Caretaker Gazette, PO Box 4005, Bergheim, TX 78004. Phone (830) 336-3939. A subscription is also available at RVbookstore.com

©2004 by Out West Newspaper

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