WE BOUGHT A BUS AND TURNED IT INTO A TINY HOUSE ON WHEELS!
First, some history!
In June of 2015, our family of five sold everything we owned, packed up our car and headed out on the adventure of a lifetime! For more than five full months, we tent camped our way around the country, sleeping under the stars at national parks, forests, beaches, lakes and mountains in more than 20 states! With three kids ages 5-10, most people thought we were insane, but we found our groove almost immediately and had the most incredible time of our lives. We had such an amazing time that when we started getting close to the end of our trip, we all agreed five months hadn’t been nearly enough time. So, we ditched our original plan of heading overseas in 2016 and decided to buy a school bus, convert it into an RV / Tiny House on Wheels and drive around the country again! As much as we loved tent camping (and I say that in complete seriousness!) there were a few things we were getting a little bit sick of.
1) Rain. Camping in the rain SUCKS. SO. MUCH.
2) Cooking in the dark. Every night, we’d get back to camp, starving and exhausted from adventuring all day, and have to stand outside at the picnic table in the dark trying to cook dinner. No matter how many lights we tried to set up, it was always a pain.
3) Our sweet pup, Honey Buns! Honey stayed with family while we were on our trip and we missed her so, so much. Having a big, comfy bus means we’re able to take Honey with us on all our adventures!
So why a converted school bus?
We’ve been calling ourselves World Schoolers for more than two years now, so what could possibly be a more perfect way to explore than in a World School Bus?! When we thought of the idea, we had NO idea there were already hundreds of converted school buses already on the road (or parked and being used as “tiny homes.”) You can buy a decent school bus in good running condition for around $1500 to $4000. We found ours on Craigslist for $2800! (Not bad for a house you can drive!) Some people have asked why we didn’t just buy a used RV instead of a bus. Honestly, we’re not big fans of the typical RV. They usually have a pretty bland interior and exterior and are built from flimsy materials that don’t last, especially if you plan to live in them full time. We liked the idea of buying a classic style dog-nosed bus and starting from scratch to have character and style. Now that we’re finished, I can’t tell you how glad I am we went this route. Our finished bus is exactly like I imagined and everything we wanted.
Where’d you get the bus?
We bought our 1997 AmTran/International school bus from a seller on Craigslist! Our bus was once an Austin ISD school bus, which makes us happy since Austin is where we lived before we decided to become full time travelers. Austin will always hold a piece of our hearts and now we can carry a little bit of Austin around with us everywhere we go! If you’re interested in buying your own bus, check Craigslist for sure, but know there are also TONS of auctions happening all over the country where you can buy your bus directly from the school district that used it! A quick google search will help you find more information!
How’d you turn it into a house?!
First of all, you should know that Henry and I had ZERO experience with this kind of thing before starting the bus project. We’d never built anything more complicated than an IKEA shelf and couldn’t tell you the first thing about plumbing, electrical, solar, lumber or most of the tools we ended up using. We were absolute beginners and learned everything as we built. If you ever have a chance to walk through the bus, you might notice some of our mistakes. Our floor is a little bit creaky, the cabinets are slightly uneven, nothing lines up perfectly and there are still seams and gaps here and there in places that need trim. I call these things “reminders.” Reminders of our crazy decision to jump head first into a huge project without hesitation. Reminders of how much we learned during the process. Reminders that life is all about trying and failing and making mistakes and trying again until you figure it out. Reminders that WE BUILT THIS. Reminders that we can build anything, go anywhere, do anything we want in life, perfection be damned.
So how’d we turn this old bus into a house? One step at a time.First we ripped out all the old bus seats, then we pulled out all the metal ceilings, walls and rubber floor. We yanked the old insulation out and replaced it with fresh, new insulation, laid down a plywood plank floor and got to work building. First we build the kids beds – each of our three kiddos has their own bunk – and then we built our couches. (At night, our couches pull together to make a big, comfy bed for me and Henry!) Then we built cabinets, a bathroom complete with tub/shower and a composting toilet, a kitchen area with propane stove and sink. Oh, did I mention we have two big 40 gallon water tanks mounted underneath? And that I DID ALL THE PLUMBING?! I also did all the electrical and hooked up 400 watts of solar panels so we have power wherever we go. Yeah, our bus is pretty badass. I’ll try to break down each area of the bus in future posts with photos and some how-to, so be sure to check back often! And if you’re not already, go follow us on Facebook and Instagram! I’m a photographer, so I post tons of photos over there and keep it updated a bit better than this blog. Here are some links for you : The World School on Facebook and The World School on Instagram.
Where are you headed?
How about some more photos?
Ask and you shall receive …