Back in 2017, we brought home our 1996 Bluebird schoolbus. For the previous five or six years, Josh and I have daydreamed about converting a schoolbus into a home on wheels. We knew we could never afford a cottage property, so why not create a cottage on wheels and take it to various lakes far from home?
And slowly, over time (and a lot of pinterest searching), we became sure that a skoolie conversion was a good fit for our family.
Many people convert schoolbuses into tiny homes and live on them full time. We were surprised to see how widespread the skoolie world was. There are some amazing conversions out there and we discovered a great website, http://www.skoolie.net/forums/ , that has literally thousands of inspiring buses from around the world. This site has been a great launching zone for all our ideas that have been percolating for many years. Any question you can think of, it has been answered by the members of this form.
We were lucky and found our bus in our nearest local town, Nelson, British Columbia. It had belonged to a group of homeschooling high school kids and not only was it equipped to run on veggie oil and diesel, but it had painted the exterior in Waldorf designs. The bus was in great condition and we brought it home in July of 2017. That first summer and fall, we did very little in the way of converting, expecting to leave the following summer for a trip across Canada. A few test runs were made and then the seats were dismantled, the floor grinded from rust and repainted with a rust proofing paint so plywood could be installed.
By winter, when Josh was immersed in ski guide work, it was clear we needed to put our cross Canada adventure on hold for another year. We had so much to do, so little time, and no money. Clearly, a recipe for failure. While it seemed so discouraging at the time, we tried to keep in mind that we might as well do it properly to ensure a great trip.
After a lot of discussing, we decided to re-mortgage our home to get the financing needed to convert the bus and hit the road for 2 months. It was a little scary making this leap, but we knew it was now or never…we had a teenager in the house and one on the cusp and we felt that their enthusiasm for a family trip living in tight quarters might not last forever.
So we really began converting the bus in earnest in the fall of 2018 once the loan was secured. Josh worked on it full time and it was a lesson in patience for him…it is one thing to build houses on land, and another to build on a wonky bus.
But together, we did it, day by day. As winter approached, we had to change gears for his ski work again, and as soon as the snow melted this past spring, he was back out there. I managed the ordering and details and planning of the conversion while also sewing all the quilts and cushions and curtains, homeschooling 2 of our kids, running the farm, and all the other affairs of our busy life. Honestly, looking back now from the road, we were burnt out and barely holding it all together.
But it was worth it….and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.