Wouldn’t it just be so cool to sell everything and live in a bus? Forget about having a mortgage, have the ability to travel, and have some financial freedom?
That’s what I thought…so my husband and I did it! Rewind to April 2018. I was soaking in our hot tub on a chilly evening in the backyard of my husband, Josh and I’s home of 3 years. Scrolling through YouTube, I came across a family who bought 100 acres and were living in a yurt. I was intrigued. I was envious of their simple lifestyle, giving them the financial freedom to enjoy and live off their land. We had talked about our dream forever home before and both agreed we wanted land and farm animals. This would be perfect. I watched nearly every video they made over the next day or so before I brought it up to Josh.
Back in the hot tub for our routine soak, I asked, “Wanna sell our house and move into a yurt?”. He just laughed and asked why on earth would we want to leave our home. We had a newly remodeled 1,250 sq/ft home, with an 800 sq/ft detached shop which housed our rotating collection of classic cars, sitting on a fully-fenced gorgeous half an acre in a neighborhood we loved. So I dropped it. Kind of.
At that point, I already did a tad bit of yurt shopping, and during my hunt, I came across a school bus that had been converted into a 100% off-grid, mobile tiny home. Now, this was interesting. (A little background: Josh is a HUGE car fanatic, specifically vintage cars, but really anything with an engine.)
I texted him a link to the bus during my lunch break. That evening he said, “let’s do it!”. The plan would be to sell the house, down-size our belongings, do some traveling, then find land or our dream home all the while living in the bus.
We began our research by watching countless YouTube videos about people living in school buses, or as we learned their slang name, skoolies. We had to find the perfect bus, at the perfect price. In the meantime, we contacted our real estate agent to get our house on the market. Longggg story short, within a matter of 30 days, we had sold a lot of our belongings, moved the rest of our belongings into a 10×15 storage unit, listed our house, sold our house, found a skoolie (a 1957 Kenworth skoolie we named #scarletttheskoolie), renovated Scarlett, and moved in.
Our grandparents were gracious enough to let us park on their large property as our base camp. It didn’t take long for us to adjust to 300 sq/ft, but it was a huge lifestyle change! We had our ups and downs, went on mini trips, picked up a new hobby of dirt biking, and learned a lot (you can follow our adventures and learn more about #buslife on our Instagram & YouTube @busbuccaneers). During this time, Josh was laid off from his job, and took that time to go back to school for his Career & Technical Education (CTE) certificate, and started his new career as a teacher. I also had a huge job change leaving the school district I had worked at for 3.5 years as an administrative assistant, for a new school district as the head of their PR department.
After 1.5 years of living in the bus, we were getting the itch to start looking for our forever home. We were open to building a house or purchasing a house depending on what we found. Our ‘want’ list for our new place was pretty extensive, and since we weren’t tied down with a mortgage, we had time to wait for the perfect listing to come along. So the search began. My poor Redfin app and wonderful aunt/real estate agent were working over-time. After countless hours scrolling through Redfin, roughly 10 house tours, 4 offers, and a year later, we found our perfect haven. So I bet you’re wondering, is bus life for me? Below are 6 things your should know before living in a skoolie.
You absolutely must be flexible & patient
Things break. You run out of water. A tire goes flat. A trip didn’t go according to plan. This is all part of the adventure! Make the most of it. Learn a new skill or DIY a fix. Plan ahead and always have an extra jug of water. Explore where you are stranded while Good Sam comes to fix your flat. Adjust your trip and just go with it!
It is not free
Yes, you don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage, but there are other costs associated with living in a bus (not counting the purchase of the bus itself). Make sure to factor in gas money, the cost to stay at an RV park, an emergency fund for if/when something breaks, some kind of roadside assistance (we used Good Sam), etc. Take time to sit down and create a budget to get an idea of how much it will cost you depending on how often you are driving, where you plan on parking etc. Although it isn’t free, it did give us a lot of wiggle room.
The #buslife community is gigantic
When Josh and I started this endeavor, we realized that there is an entire community of people living in buses. We met so many new people on the road and going to events. Have fun with it and get ready to make some new friends for life.
Be prepared to be gawked at and to answer many questions
Every time we hit the road, we would get stares, honks, waves, and people trying to snap a quick photo on the road. Every. Single. Time. Even if it was a quick 20-minute drive to dump our water tanks. When we would stop for food, gas, or to camp for the night, people were drawn to the bus and would ask lots of questions. Thankfully my husband LOVES to show off his rigs, so more often than not, we would invite onlookers in for a quick tour.
Not living in a house or apartment frees up your time
There wasn’t a lawn to mow, wood to chop, or house repairs and upkeep, so we gained a lot of valuable time. Josh and I discovered our new favorite hobby of dirt biking while living in the bus. Instead of having a weekend of chores, we had a weekend to go out on dirt biking trips spending time with each other. We also got to spend a lot of time with our family, Josh was able to focus on getting his teaching certificate, and I had time to work on my writing and illustrating my children’s book (which isn’t finished yet, but I’m still picking away at).
What you think is a necessity, won’t be, and vise versa
When Josh and I were deciding what to keep, sell, store, and bring with us of our belongings, we thought we needed things that we never touched. For example, extra luggage, 3 boxes of miscellaneous electronics and cords, and our entire 200+ DVD collection (mind you, we had them stored in a huge binder). There were also things that we wish we had. My sewing machine was one of those things for DIYs around the bus, hemming and patching clothing, and when the pandemic first hit, sewing face masks. You will live, learn, and adjust what you chose to take with you.
All-in-all, I wouldn’t trade our bus adventure for anything. It opened up so many doors for us and took our life in a direction I don’t think either of us could have predicted. And we did it! We met our end goal to try something new and find our dream home which I can’t wait to get down and dirty making our own.