Property Caretaker Work: For this Job, Benefits Include a Canoe and a Bathtub

Property caretaker jobs can provide cash, a place to park your RV, utilities, and fun benefits. Each caretaking position that Coleen and I have had has been different. This house-sitting job was helping two elderly ladies with their home and lake property.

Property Caretaker Positions

Some people go out and look for property caretaker positions. Our caretaker jobs seems to find us. A few years back, while working another job, we became acquainted with a couple of retired school teachers. That’s about it, we met, we talked a little, and they saw us at our jobs.

One day, they both stopped in at our jobs, and approached us. They had a favor to ask of us: would we stop over and check their house and pick up their mail while they were gone for two weeks? We only needed to check on things every three or four days. This would help them out so very much, they explained.

Okay, we would. It was only about two blocks out of our way, and we were flattered they would trust us just out of the blue. (We later found they had vetted us with several people before they approached us.) Several times a week, on our way to town or just out driving around, we'd stop by, pick up their mail, and put it on the kitchen table. While doing that, we'd visually scan the property looking for anything that might be amiss. All went well. When they returned, they hosted us to a wonderful dinner. The main benefit we received from this caretaking stint was the friendship that developed with Ruth and Flo, the two ladies.

Maybe six months later, they approached us about caretaking again. They were planning a trip. They would be gone for an extended time, and they wanted us to house-sit while they were away. We were about to start traveling again, after being in the same place for a while, but we decided to stay.

This time, we would stay on their property for about six weeks. Once again, the only specific thing they asked us to do was to take in the mail. However, by this time, they had gotten to know us well enough to know I like to keep busy and that I can do handyman type jobs. They made a list of jobs we could do while they were gone. They said they would pay us for the extra work when they got back.

These are some of the tasks I did during this property caretaker stint:

  • Removed broken boards from the boat dock and replaced them.
  • Serviced the backup generator and replaced the battery.
  • Cleared brush, hauled it away, and weed ate the yard.
  • Got a shovel, rake, and a 5-gallon bucket, and filled potholes in the gravel driveway.
  • Filled in over a waterline trench that had settled and washed out.
  • Did some insulation work under the house, in the crawlspace.
  • Power washed cobwebs and leaves from the roof over a large deck, and then power washed the deck itself.
  • The ladies had arranged to acquire all the trees cleared from the neighboring property. I cut them all into log lengths, split, hauled, and stacked them.
  • Near the boat dock had become choked with weeds; the water level had dropped; and the weeds were literally sticking out of the water. I pulled out the weeds, and mucked out the bottom of the lake to make an open water area again.

There were other tasks, but these are the ones I remember. Some of the jobs took a few hours. Some took an afternoon. Others took a day or more. I kept busy. But, all these jobs were optional. I did the jobs I chose to do. I did them on my own time schedule. Some of them were just physical labor. Some of them, I really enjoyed doing. I liked seeing the improvements around the property.

For this house-sitting gig, we parked our RV in their driveway. We could hook up to their electricity. They had a nearby water spigot for filling our fresh water tank. There was a place to dump our gray and black water tanks. We were welcome to use their house and garage. We don't have a television in our RV, so we watched their TV some, and used their internet service. Coleen took advantage of their big bathtub and spent hours soaking. I used their canoe. I also had time to use the spacious garage to finish building a utility trailer for myself. They offered all this for our presence on the property and picking up the mail.

There is a guest house on the property, by the lake. If it had been too cold to stay in the RV; or if we didn't have an RV; or if we just wanted a change; we could have lived in the guesthouse while we were there taking care of the property.

We didn’t make a whole lot of money, but we got paid for what we did. We also got a peaceful, very private, beautiful place to stay on a small pleasant lake, with a canoe, and with all the utilities we needed. I could work on projects. Coleen could write and work on the newsletters and websites. It was an ideal situation both for us and for them. When it ended, we were ready to travel on down the road with pleasant memories of another successful property caretaker experience as working RVers.


Coleen's comments: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article about our property caretaking jobs for Ruth and Flo. His handyman skills and ability to fix things are truly an asset to our property caretaker assignments. When looking at the compensation for doing property caretaking work, remember to consider the benefits besides the pay. On this job, Bob liked spending time out on the lake in the canoe. Me? He wasn't exaggerating when he said I spent hours soaking in the bathtub!

Read more about RVers working as property caretakers.

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