A few years ago, I got this crazy idea. What if we sold most of our stuff and moved into an RV?
My husband thought I was crazy. For one, why would I want to live in such a tiny space? For two, we also had four children.
But I was determined that we would one day live in a tiny space and that we’d love it. After all, I knew from all the blogs I’d read that this was a reality for several families out there (and they’d even done it intentionally). So why couldn’t we do it.
Well, we did.
In October of 2012, we brought home our RV, which was actually a renovated school bus, or Skoolie. It was hideous inside, so we spent the next few months gutting it completely.
By June 2013, the beds were in and we moved our family of six into our school bus. We lived there for just over a year until a job change necessitated a move.
Today, the bus is parked right next to our house and used as a guest house.
If you’re ready to embark on your school bus adventure, grab my free guide, DIY Skoolie: Things to consider before starting your school bus conversion.
Your Skoolie is beautiful!!! Thanks to your marvelous blog….you have inspired me and my family to make healthier choices. We are also planning on getting a bus. Please keep sharing more about your bus. Excited to see the final results!
Nice bus! We were kinda in the same boat my wife got sick I lost my job and we kinda got forced into living green. If it wasn’t for my farm I don’t know how we would have made it. I bought a bus last year and thinking of converting it, I have one question what size water tank did you use, and how hard was it to put in your black water tank? Thanks and ps we eat almost totally out of our gardens on the farm and we have to share some recipes sometimes!
Two questions that I have:
1) If someone lives in or travels to colder climates, how insulated are the buses overall? I know you can insulate the sides somewhat but how about the ceiling? And, how do you insulate things like your water holding tank, septic etc.?
2) What is the better type of engine or do they almost all have the same type?
@victoriapilkington Definitely want the 250 HP Cummins Turbo Diesel with the Allison transmission. That is pretty much an unbeatable drivetrain. An older school bus is certainly going to be drafty, so it will need insulation work done if you plan to stay in it in colder climates overnight.
Thanks for answering, Dave! Yes, lots of insulation is good! If we were to do it over again, we would have focused a lot more on re-insulating.
I would really like to convert a bus; however the details seem daunting. If I want to live in it full-time- school bus vs coach?
On a school bus, how are you anchoring to the ceiling without putting holes in the ceiling that have the potential to leak? In cold climates should you insulate the ceiling also? The windows on a school bus look like single pane. What considerations would you make for colder climates? And just how and where do you put the holding and grey water tanks on a school bus so they do not freeze? How do you heat a school bus in the winter when driving? etc. etc.
And if going with a coach instead, the same questions. My understanding is diesel mpg is better on a school bus than a coach. Plus school buses are built for rougher road conditions and yet the trade-off when living in one full time seems worth it for the wider bus; more space.
lol if you guys know the answers to some of these questions and/or can suggest a place for a total newbie to start learning about some of the answers are there books you can recommend? Most of the ones that I see are more from the aspect of floor layouts. I am still at the beginning stages of deciding what type would fit my lifestyle and then my budget. Like I said it all seems a bit daunting.
I am currently converting a mini international bus with an Allison transmission. I am having the hardest time getting someone to insure me skoolie. How did you go about getting insurence ? Also any good tips for getting the parts for hookups. Super tight budget and looking for any tips I can get.
I’ve seen your ‘school bus conversion’ pics all over the net. It’s awesome to finally locate the owner/family. Great jobs and awesome tips. My partner and I are moving into our converted school bus full time starting spring 2015. Looking forward to all the adventures.
All the best to you and your family – may a happy road always lead onwards…
Hi Kaeli! Welcome. 🙂
I’m trying to convert a school bus into a tour bus for my youtube group for our tour this summer any ideas on how to convert it?
The insurance problem is solved by once it has toilet and electrical in you take it to the DMV and have it registered as a motor home , then insure it as one
We did , easy
Which company did you go through, Nora?
hi what insurance do you have on the bus
If you stay in a bus full time where can you park it campgrounds where I’m from only let you stay 14 days a month
We’ve found some places that allow long-term RV parking. They’re typically listed as mobile home parks. There are people on Craigslist who also rent out the RV spots at their homes long term.
Any tips from where can I get cheap school bus?
We found ours on Craigslist. You can also try calling different school districts and see what they do with their old buses.
We love Sklooie projects. For anyone looking to purchase a used bus Midwest Transit Equipment has THOUSANDS of used buses for sale at fantastic prices. Their website is http://www.midwesttransit.com or you can call them toll free 888-used-bus or 815-933-2412. They have eight locations, 400+ employees and have been in business for 40 years. They also sell a lot of school bus parts so if you need parts you can call 800-808-2412.
You lived in the bus with your children all year round, how did that go? My boyfriend and I are about to buy a bus to fix up this summer, and we’re planning on living in it all year round as well, is there a law or a site I can find to saying it’s legal? We don’t want to get and live in the bus, only later down the road, they be taken away, for not living in a real home, we’ve seen that it’s happened to other families on youtube, how can we avoid this?
I really don’t know, Susan. We lived it for one year and it was parked on the farm my dad runs. I would see it as the same as living in an RV or trailer – I’m sure the law would vary state to state. We never had any problems.
Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing! I was wondering as to where people station there mobile home/bus conversion,
We live in Massachusetts, and I would be interested in living in a conversion year round if possible. 🙂
Could you elaborate more on what youve discovered about the engines/transmissions, what you chose, and how it has treated you this far? im looking at a few different models of school buses all in the 3000-4000 range!
Could you tell me your thoughts in regards to a Reno bus for travelling and living or a car pulling a trailer? I’m thinking about the driving and parking difficulties. Also, would it make any difference where we could park (bug bus vs. Car and trailer)?? I’ve been dreaming of this my whole life and I’m fed up being poor knowing there isn’t a chance we’ll ever be able to afford our own home. This is my chance if we can raise the funds. Please hear me universe. Thanks.
We have had a skoolie for 6 years. We full timed in it in 2010. We LOVE our rig. However the insurance company we used didn’t carry over state lines and unless we kept a permanent domicile in that state….they wouldn’t insure. Now we have been looking for 3 years (not super hard, just sent inquiry into 4 different companies)
Still need insurance.
@bug out bus on Facebook
Awesome article. Do you know if there are specific guidelines that you must follow for inspections? Like, would you need a home inspection.. or regular DMV inspection? Like, for example… if you install a bed in place of the chairs.. are they going to inspect to make sure it’s bolted down/secured properly, etc?
So with all of the renovations you have done how much do you think you have put into it?
I am a Belgian and about to buy a bus in Nebraska. The only thing that keeps me from starting my bus conversion project is the drivers licence. To drive a schoobus with passengers you need to have a specific drivers license. But I can’t find anything about the license for driving a converted school bus. Are you allowed to drive one with your normal license? Do you need a new one? Where did you find information about this? Thanks for your great blog!
You are correct, Elisabeth, you do need a special license to operate a school bus. However, you do not need one to drive an RV (which seems kind of crazy to me, especially after I drove the bus). Once your bus is converted you can have it classified as an RV, which is how you get around that requirement. However, I found this thread that talks about it a bit more in length that talks about the CDL being required if you have passengers. http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f18/typical-rv-license-requirements-118.html
Where can you buy parts? Just online? Are there forums to help decipher what’s mechanical problems are going on?
You can find parts online, but we were also able to find different things at a local RV store. There is a great forum with lots of helpful info here: http://www.skoolie.net/forums/
what type of engine is a good one for the school bus ?
This is amazing. How much was the total cost. And what are the laws for parking the bus?
Cant get insurance on the bus/rv in MN. Any suggestions?
Live down the way in Redmond converting our own 95 amtran bus into an RV. Perhaps someday we will see your bus around town.