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If you think you’re seeing more converted school buses on the road, you’re not wrong. The “skoolie” lifestyle is growing in popularity for several demographics, especially now that so many people can work wherever they want. What’s a skoolie? And is it for you? If you have an open mind and a spirit of adventure, it just might be.
Why the Popularity?
A skoolie is essentially a cross between a recreational vehicle and a tiny home. In fact, many people park their skoolies off the grid and use it as a house. It’s a more sustainable and affordable alternative for housing, which appeals to anyone who doesn’t want a mortgage. And of course, a skoolie has wheels, and wheels were made for roaming. If you have DIY skills, converting a used bus can be the project of a lifetime.
What Costs Are Involved?
A used school bus can be a great deal if you know what you’re looking for. School districts must retire school buses at a certain age even if they’re still in great shape, so you can find something solid between $3,000 and $7,000. The price depends on you and how much you want to rough it—and how much of the work you can do yourself. You can make a skoolie livable for $5,000, although somewhere north of $30,000 is more likely.
Is It Comfortable?
Once you remove the seats, a skoolie has between 245 and 300 square feet, which isn’t too shabby. There’s more than enough room to install a full kitchen, living area, bedroom, and bathroom. You’ll need a tankless water heater, separate tanks for gray water, potable water, and black water. Storage space, of course, is at a premium, so you can adopt an intensely minimalist philosophy… or get really creative with under-floor storage, shelf storage, bed storage, wall storage, and so on.
Is It for You?
Online communities are expanding with tips and tricks for anyone who wants to try life on the move. So ultimately, what’s a skoolie? It’s a blank slate of a vehicle begging to see the country. Before you start sizing up buses, ask yourself:
- Have you saved money for time off, or do you work remotely?
- Can you do any of the conversion work yourself?
- Are you traveling with children?
- Can you drive—and park—a bus?
- Can you afford the fuel for a gas guzzler?
- Do you have any mechanical skills?
There’s aren’t any correct answers, really. You can learn, adapt, and improvise. The skoolie lifestyle is for retirees, recent college graduates, young families, and all kinds of adventurers. There’s plenty of room on the road for you.