Smaller living has been taking the world by storm. You hear about tiny living and how people are living a minimalist lifestyle starting with their homes.
One unique way of going about this idea is school bus conversions. School bus conversions is when you turn a bus into a mobile home.
Things to Think About Before Attempting School Bus Conversions
People will buy old school buses so they can live on the road or so that they aren’t attached to anything. Meaning – no rent or mortgage to pay off.
It may seem like a great solution for those who can’t afford a home, but there are a few things to consider before attempting a school bus conversion.
What Will You Use It for?
Why are you going to attempt this feat? Do you want to live in it permanently? Are you going to use it for a cross country trip? What about as a camping shelter? Some have people have used them as party buses as well.
How will you stay cool and warm as you live in this bus? Is it worth insulating? What about an AC or heating? Will you have heat strips or a wood stove?
How Will You Power It?
Power is kind of an important aspect of a conversion. Will you be connected to shore power? Shore power is the provision of shore side electrical power to a vehicle while the main and auxiliary engines are shut down.
Or will you choose to boondock in your bus? Boondocking is dry camping or parking in a spot without amenities.
How Many People Need to Sleep on Your Bus?
Will you fold down a couch into a bed or convert the table area into a bed to have more living space?
Do you have a lot of people? Maybe bunk beds would be a better option.
The amount of beds you need will affect your layout.
Where are You Putting Your Kitchen and Bathroom?
Speaking of layout, you need to decide where to put 2 different, but very important, areas—the kitchen and bathroom.
How big is your kitchen going to be? Will it take both sides of the bus? How can you put the bathroom in a place that isn’t too close to any living space like beds or the kitchen?
By knowing where you are going to put these, you will know where to put the pipes. You can place them under the bus and have them run to these spaces.
Plan Before Making a Move
It can be tempting to just jump right into the conversion, ripping out seats and placing amenities. But that’s asking for mistakes to be made.
It’s best to grab some graph paper and a pencil. Picture what you want in your mind. Make sure it’s what you want and will continue to want.
You have to think of a lot of little things. Like where do you want your bed to face? Do you want a desk area? Where is your TV going? If you don’t consider all these things, you may not like your end result.
Also, if you aren’t the only one living there, make sure to consult the rest of people who will be there with you.
We need electricity there is no way around it. How many outlets and light switches will you need?
This will affect where your microwave and TV will be placed.
You Need Skills
Remember you need to have a lot of different skills to get this done. You have to rip out seats, make sure the bus is structurally sound, and more. If you can’t do it, make sure to get help from a professional.
Also think about how much money this will all cost.
Top 10 Best School Bus Conversions
There have been a lot of school bus conversions that have gained popularity on social media. In particular, Instagram has been the place of choice for people to show off their new homes.
Here are some of the best of the best school bus conversions:
1. Fern the Bus
The owners of Fern the Bus are Ben and Mande. They are Michigan natives who wanted to travel west. The bus’s kitchen features exposed wood, white cabinetry and a lot of natural light.
The interior is open and spacious. It has a rustic feel with all the exposed wood and white fabrics.
The bedroom is located at the back of the bus and uses the space above for storage. They even have a rooftop deck, hammock posts, and bike mounts.
3. The Blue Ridge Mountain Bus
This bus is located in Hot Springs, North Carolina. It’s the home to Stacie Jameson and her family. It’s even part of their business, Blue Ridge Conversions.
They built a deck that’s attached to the side of the bus. It offers shade and is a great place to take in the scenery.
Inside, it has wood flooring, blue cabinetry, and storage area for dishes. The bathroom is gorgeous with wooden walls with a shower and bath. There’s bunk beds to let multiple people stay with them.
4. Adventure or Bust
This couple, Brittany and Steven, own a light blue bus and are traveling across the country off the grid. They also document everything on their website.
They use solar panels on their rooftop to have energy. The inside has a wood stove and full size appliances. They even have a washer and dryer.
The bus gets a lot of natural light. Their bedroom is all bed to save space. They have wooden walls and floors. It’s light in color to help reflect the natural light. They have accents of light blue or sea foam green.
It has a very rustic feel.
5. The Simple Bus Life
This is another couple who wants to live off the grid. Amanda and Joe Trattner live in the Virgin Islands and are small business owners.
They want to spread the word about tiny living. They are doing this through the Simple Bus Life Project. The project’s goal is to encourage others to live more self-sufficient lives and have financial freedom.
Their kitchen has a farmhouse sink with full size appliances. The living room and bedroom mesh together due to having no walls. It has wooden floors and lots of lighting. Everything seems like it’s in the perfect fit because of the open format of the bus.
6. Rolling Vistas
Zac and Tiff are still in the process of converting their bus into a full-time home. They have a YouTube channel where they show their process. The channel isn’t meant to be a how to channel, instead it’s meant to be an inspiration for others to try their hand at it.
Their bus has a real cabin vibe. It has a wood focused aesthetic that is part of the walls, floors, and even their appliances. Even their accessories like pillows and fabrics have classic cabin patterns.
They came up with the idea to put faux stain glass over the bus windows to give themselves privacy.
7. Blanchard Bus Conversion
This family of Crystal, Sequoya, and their son, live full time in their converted bus in Florida. They are traveling around the country until they find the perfect place to settle down.
They have a full-size fridge and stove. They have an airy atmosphere in their bus. There are a lot of pastel colors and light colored wood panels. The living room and kitchen are side by side. The master bedroom is in the back of the bus, kind of isolated from everything else. This gives a sense of privacy. There is a little bed for their son and a closet is above the bed.
This bus was originally owned by a small school in Canada. Then it was converted in Calgary and moved overseas to Devon, UK.
This bus stands out from the standard yellow school buses. It’s a dark blue color. The dining table inside is large. It has a different layout than the other converted buses. It has a side hallway to give more room for eating space and the kitchen.
It has a lot of natural light. The master bedroom is located at the back of the bus and takes advantage of all the windows. It also has a modern bathroom which is the highest level of luxury with converted buses.
You can see more on their website .
This bus is the home of a family of 5. They transformed a 1999 Blue Bird bus into their home. Their conversion is focused on a modern, sleek design. You can learn all about their adventure from their website.
They have white walls and wood countertops. The kitchen is minimalistic, but has a deep sink with a lot of storage. There are 2 sets of kid bunk beds that line the hallway that leads to the master bedroom.
10. Big Green Bus
This is bus is a self-described “massive recycling exercise.” The owner, Adam Collier-Woods turned a double decker city bus into a traveling hotel. He bought the bus off of eBay of all places. He did all the conversion work by himself and calls it the Big Green Bus.
It’s available for rent in the English countryside. It can accommodate up to 6 people and offers 2 double bedrooms, a kitchen, and even a log burning stove.
The inside of the bus has a simple design. It has wood floors and white walls. It has accents of bright green to lighten up the place. There is a great living space, bright green couches surround a table.
Upstairs is where most of the beds are. It also has a full kitchen.
Buyer’s Guide for School Bus Conversions
As mentioned before there are quite of few questions to ask yourself before you jump into this endeavor. It’s a massive undertaking. The buses listed above have costed thousands of dollars and years of work.
If you do want to do this, do your research. Check out websites like those above. They often break down the whole process and are open to being asked questions.
See how much these converters paid for their buses. Set up a budget, think about what skills you have that you can use to convert the bus. Be open to asking people for help.
Finally, realize this is a long process. This requires dedication and patience. It could take you years to finish. Make sure this is an endeavor you want to take on. If you stop halfway through, that’s a lot of lost money and time.
It’s a Fun Way Live
Even though it’s a grueling process do, once you are done, it’s a fun way to live. If you have a passion for a sustainable and minimalist lifestyle, then this may be the right path for you. If you feel like you are more of a nomad, then living in a bus is the perfect fit for you.
It’s also a great way to become more finically independent. Yes, it’s expensive at first, but once you are done, there are huge savings. There are no monthly bills to deal with. You create your own power, heat, cooling. There’s no monthly payment for just living there.
It does have a lot of perks, once everything is done. It’s just a matter of getting to the finish line.
This is definitely not a lifestyle for everyone. If you think it this whole process is cool, but you wouldn’t do it yourself, that’s fine. You can just appreciate the images that people post on social media. Maybe you can even stay in some that have been turned into hotels.