This couple met in pre-school and later converted a local school bus in their hometown in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Alex and Sarah Mini Squad Skoolie diy short School  bus conversion

 

Next up, we are proud to introduce you to the next build in The Bus Fair Feature Series, Mini Squad Skoolie:

Hi! We are Alex & Sarah and we live in our Mini Squad Skoolie! We’re originally from Pennsylvania and have been stationed in San Diego, California. Building this bus and traveling the country makes us feel like we’re truly living our dream. For anyone who is considering a conversion, we highly recommend it! There definitely have been some bumps along the way, but we are so grateful to be living this lifestyle.

 Mini Squad Skoolie Insurance Follow My Agent Short Bus conversion

Bus specs:
Make: Chevy
Model: 3500 Bluebird Shorty
Motor: 6.5L Diesel
Year: 2000
Interior Square Footage: 100 sqft.
Current Location: Northeast Pennsylvania
Purchased From/Location: Jim Thorpe, PA
Cost in materials for the conversion: 15,000 - 20,000?
Total time from purchase date to on the road: 4 months

Mini Squad Skoolie Interior diy short School bus conversion Kitchen sink

Why a bus?
We were living in Center City Philadelphia, and eager to start traveling and exploring the country. We fell in love with the west coast, and Sarah found a job in San Diego which allows her to work remotely part-time. The bus was initially going to be used as a moving truck and it evolved into more than we could’ve imagined. It started with some engine work, then we said “let's paint it a cool color!” and that is where our tiny home quickly escalated from there. The bus took about four months to complete with all hands on deck and continues to be a project we keep modifying to fit our lifestyle!

 

Where did you purchase your bus?
We actually found our bus locally to where we grew up. Alex’s mom is a special education teacher at Jim Thorpe Highschool where the bus was used! Our bus really came full circle after realizing his mom’s students rode on it throughout the years, making it that much more special to us.

 Mini Squad Skoolie bus diy bathroom shower toilet tiny house

Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
We converted the bus in the Poconos in Northeast Pennsylvania, where we grew up! The conversion took place in Sarah’s dad’s garage during the Winter months which made the build a bit more difficult. We purchased the bus in November 2018 and completed the build in March 2019 before leaving for California.

 

Who are you living/traveling with?
Just us, Sarah and Alex. We have known each other since pre-school days. Alex’s mom was our preschool teacher. We grew up together but did not start dating until college when we both went to Philadelphia for school. We’re also looking forward to getting a dog soon to join our adventures!

 

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
Alex grew up working with his Dad on their home, vehicles, motorcycles, and other toys throughout the years. Sarah on the other hand never picked up a power tool prior to this project. We have learned so much from building this bus. From carpentry to plumbing, to electrical, to mechanical skills, etc. This bus conversion has given us confidence in ourselves that we never realized we had. Prior to the conversion, we couldn’t have dreamed of building a tiny home on wheels. It was a project that allowed us to work closely with our friends and families and create lifelong memories and skills.

 Mini Squad Skoolie Interior office kitchen living space bus conversion

Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this? Any current troubles?
Something we learned is that each project takes twice if not three times as long as you think it will. So try not to get upset or discouraged during different aspects of your build!
As we mentioned, we didn’t buy the bus with the intention to turn it into a skoolie. If we were to do another bus, we would probably get a bigger chassis and a different motor. We didn’t consider the amount of weight we were adding onto the bus, and realized that a 3500 chassis is a little small for everything we added. We ended up installing airbags in the rear to help support the weight.

 Mini Squad Skoolie diy office tiny house bus

What is the most unique feature of your conversion? We would probably say our new office/dining/living room setup is one of the most unique features. We had to completely re-customize our workspace in the bus. As much as we loved the dinettes, we were unable to both work from our small table. So we removed the dinette and found seats that had armrests and seatbelts off of Craigslist and got swivel mounts for the seats. Our desk area tables can fold up into a table and lay flat against the wall as well. We bought computer monitor mounts that we attached to the side of our window frames, which are removable and allow us to move it to the bed area as well. Also, we have kept our table from the dinette, so when we have dinner, we can still sit across from each other. The seats we installed can recline, so the area is also our living room space if we want to relax or watch a movie/show. This set up so far is much more efficient and comfortable for us (so happy we did it!). Being in a space this small, you have to think out of the box and create spaces that are multifunctional!


Many people ask “what is the chain noise I hear under your bus” and the bus actually came equipped with Onspot’s which are automatic tire chains. They require an air compressor and air tank to operate. The arms with chains near the rear inner tire fold down and ride along the inner tire throwing the chains attached under the tire as it moves forward or reverses. It’s a great feature to have when traveling in the snow.

 

What do you do for income? How often do you work on the bus?
Alex is an insurance agent and Sarah works for a telemedicine company. We are traveling across the country this summer and our goal is to hit all four corners of the country while working along the way!

 Mini Squad Skoolie exterior diy short School  bus conversion

What has been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in?
When we first started the build in our hometown, people were kind of shocked, especially some family members. However, once the build really started to come together, everyone got on board and was really excited for us!

 

Have you met other Skoolies?
We went to our first Skooliepalooza this past year and it was truly amazing! We also attended Tinyfest in Del Mar which was such a fun experience! We’ve met so many great people and you really appreciate everyone's build and all the creativity/hard work they’ve put into their homes to make it their own. We definitely feel there is a sense of community with everyone who has a conversion and we are looking forward to future events and meeting new people!

 

Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?
The layout was one of the hardest parts of the bus to plan because we have such a small space. One of our requirements was to have a bathroom, but also enough countertop space in the kitchen and a place to sit/eat. We spent so much time researching how other small buses did their layouts and creating our own multiple times to fit our needs. However, after living in our bus, we realized that our dinette was not the most ideal for both of us working remotely and replaced it with side by side captain's seats and fold-down tables. For our bathroom, we have a small wet bath (shower/toilet combo) with an RV style toilet and black water tank beneath.

In our kitchen, we have a sink, faucet, drinking water spout, two-burner propane stove, and a Whynter fridge/freezer combo. We initially had a microwave and a toaster oven but realized we barely used them and they drew so much power. We ended up removing them and adding more storage drawers in their place, as, with a bus our size, storage has been a priority! We recently built a hydraulic lift under the bed for our clothing storage - this has been a huge space saver and allows us to use our upper cabinets for additional storage that we previously did not have. We have had our bus for a little over a year, and have learned that even after you’ve completed your build it’s okay to continue to make modifications that better fit your lifestyle!

Mini Squad Skoolie bedroom bus bed diy tiny houseMini Squad Skoolie bus  under bed storage hacks diy

How can people learn more about you (social media, website, etc.)?
Our Instagram name is @MiniSquadSkoolie and @Follow_My_Agent and Alex’s website is www.FollowMyAgent.com

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Saskatoon artists turn short bus into dog-friendly adventure rig 

The Bus Fair 2020 had to be postponed until June 2021, so we are digitally coming together for the bus community! Thirty unique skoolies were chosen to be Featured Exhibitors at The Bus Fair. Since we're unable to meet in person - we're bringing a handful of these bus conversions right to you. Meet Determined Life Adventures and their "Gus Bus".

 

Logan  Brooke Determined Life bus vanlife

Written by: Logan & Brooke, Determined Life Bus

We are Logan and Brooke and this is our story and how we found our bus, Gus. We are a young couple originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We met four, exciting, adventure-filled years ago. We recently spent a year living on Vancouver Island, BC where we converted our 20ft short bus, Gus, into our dream tiny home on wheels.

When we made the 1800km move from Saskatoon to Vancouver Island we bought an old RV that we planned to live in and renovate into a tiny home. On the way there the RV died on us and we were left finding a home to rent as our new job was starting asap. This was one of the most stressful things we have endured as a couple, finally moving to our dream location. We didn’t let it stop us though, we are resilient and determined with all we do, hence our social media name @determinedlifeadventures.

We dreamed of moving to BC to live the lifestyle that we desire, focusing on our hobbies (snowboarding, longboarding, hiking, camping, biking, etc.) and getting to be outdoors as much as possible. We found ourselves not being able to enjoy all the things we moved there for because of where we were living, the jobs we had, etc. We also felt cheated that we hadn't truly had the chance to live vanlife as a way to experience all the things we love while traveling, and so we found Gus, our bus.

We found Gus in Squamish BC, and so we took the ferry ride over to the mainland to bring him home and begin our project. At the time we got Gus, we weren't working as our boss was on a trip for five weeks, which gave us a good chunk of time to get our bus ready. We are extremely creative people. Logan is a Red Seal Welder and I am a photographer. We also build completely handmade and painted longboards from start to finish. We can't wait to get some feedback on them and share them with those at The Bus Fair. Since we are both artists, this project was so much fun as we had an empty canvas to work with!

We chose bus life because we believe there is no definition of what a 'regular' life should look like and believe there is no right or wrong for how you should be living your life. We are extremely hard-working people with big aspirations and this lifestyle will only help us achieve our goals faster and realistically also. We are spontaneous people who like to live life on a whim. We travel in our bus with our two dogs, a 3-year-old boxer named Meech and a 6-year-old Staffordshire Bull-Terrier named Rocco and they love bus life just as much or more than we do if that’s possible. The four of us are happy as long as we are all together, adventuring. We spend all our time together and so living in a tiny home on wheels was not a concern for us whatsoever, it was extremely exciting.

We are so proud of the fact that we built Gus from start to finish completely on our own, learning as we went. We chose a bus to reduce our ecological footprint, to connect with nature, connect with each other and ourselves, eliminate the everyday distractions that get in the way of quality time, work to live not live to work, save money for future goals, focus on our passions, experience more of our beautiful world and live where we want/when we want.

We are excited to be going to The Bus Fair to meet so many people from this amazing community of van/bus lifers. We have only attended one small vanlife event in Squamish, BC but had to leave in order to get back to Vancouver Island for work. We are excited about all the inspiration we will find from the other attendees and their masterpiece tiny homes that they have created. 

Determined Life Skoolie Short bus diy home

Bus Specs:

Make: Ford
Model: E350 Superduty with a short bus chassis attached
Motor: 6 Litre Powerstroke
Year: 2006
Interior Square Footage: About 90 sq ft.
Current Location: Saskatoon, Sk
Purchased From/Location: Squamish, BC
Cost in materials for the conversion: $9200 (cost of bus) $2000 (Conversion materials-we repurposed a lot of material we found)
Total time from the purchase date to on the road: Purchased on-Feb 16, 2019 Moved into bus-April 28-2019 (about 10 weeks for full renovation) Though we were driving/ taking it on small trips regularly throughout


Why a bus?
We chose a bus to reduce our ecological footprint, to connect with nature, connect with each other and ourselves, eliminate the everyday distractions that get in the way of quality time, work to live not live to work, save money for future goals, focus on our passions, experience more of our beautiful world and live where we want/when we want. We also chose a bus in comparison to a van as we wanted to be able to fully stand up and have ample room with our pups. We love that with a bus we are responsible for things like making sure we have water every day and propane to cook and all the essentials for daily life, it gives you a different perspective to not take what you have for granted.

What we loved about choosing a bus, that was virtually an empty shell when we got it, was that we had absolute free reign on the design, like building a home from the ground up. We built the bus completely to our and our dogs' needs. Every inch of the bus has an exact purpose and in some cases multiple uses. From hidden closets inside walls, to slide out dishes for our pups, to fitting our extensive clothing/shoe collection, to all of our outdoor gear, snowboards, to a hidden table for eating and painting, to a rooftop deck, we thought of it all and never felt like we had to compromise on not having the things we simply couldn't live without.

Bus build Interior stove kitchen skoolie vanlife

Does your bus have a name or phrase you call it? If so, why did you choose it?
Our bus’s name is Gus Bus. The day we went to look at him before deciding to purchase, Brooke mentioned Gus Bus as we had just watched the movie “Benchwarmer’s” and the nickname of one of the characters is called ‘Gus Bus’ and it just fit him perfectly!

Will you be full-timing?
We lived in our bus full-time from April 28th, 2019 - August 30, 2019. We had every intention of living in our bus longer, and may still. We came back to Saskatoon, SK, where we are originally from for a wedding last summer and were going to head back to see other parts of beautiful BC, though we decided to stay back and work to save money as Logan was able to work for his previous employer as he is a Red Seal welder. And Saskatchewan winters are INSANELY cold so we had to give in and move into a house over the winter. If all goes as planned, be moving back to Vancouver Island and we could not be more excited to get Gus Bus back to his natural habitat. If we are not living in Gus Bus full time we will be using him as much as possible for camping trips and adventures whenever possible!

 Determined Life Bus build Brooke Logan

Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?

We were lucky enough to be able to work on our conversion of Gus Bus at our suite where we were living in Sooke, BC on Vancouver Island.

Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We did the entire conversion from start to finish ourselves, learning lots on the fly as we went.

Who are you living/traveling with?
Our little adventure pack includes: Logan(24), Brooke(23), Meech(our 3-year-old Boxer pup), and Rocco (our 6-year-old Staffordshire Bull-Terrier).

Determined Life Skoolie Short bus dogs nomad

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
We are both super creative people. Logan is a Red-seal welder that came in handy for having all the right tools to cut steel and in building our tiny wood stove. We learned how to do electrical and plumbing as we went, thanks to YouTube, and managed to get everything working very well. We were working for a construction company right before we bought Gus Bus. We were building homes, so we took our framing knowledge into our build as we created our walls, cabinets, closet, couch, etc. Then we got creative in building cabinet/ closet doors as we found old pallets and tore them apart and recreated them into doors and drawers. We painted our interior fun colors of stain and used old rugs/ flags from our suite to make our space reflect us and our fun personalities. We built each nook and cranny of the bus to hold a specific purpose or multiple ones and we love how it turned out and are extremely proud of the fact that we did it on our own.

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
Besides our rooftop deck feature, our most unique feature of Gus Bus would have to be the unique storage solutions we came up with to not feel like we were limited on what we could pack/ or feel crammed in with the pups.

Skoolie Dog Bed Determined Life

1. We built the dogs their own bed underneath ours, which also features a hidden closet in one of the walls which holds all of our towels/ cleaning supplies.

2. We built a hidden drawer in the bottom of our couch for our dogs' food dishes so they can be put away and kept tidy, only out when needed.

3. We built a hidden compartment above our dogs' bed where our dining table slides out of.

4. Our couch opens up to be a massive storage space underneath.

5. Underneath our bed is a massive storage compartment that we access by lifting three plywood sheets in sections to reveal different compartments. One in particular that we access from on our bed holds all of our snowboarding gear and camping gear. The rest of the area under our bed is our ‘garage’ which we access from the back doors of Gus. Here we have our shower, two big drawers full of gear, fitness equipment, and our two water jugs, our propane tank, and our full-size toolbox fit here as well.

 

What do you think will be the hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change/ living/traveling in a bus? Easiest thing?

Living in a bus isn't hard at all, it is freeing. However, make sure you know two things: where you are allowed to sleep and where the nearest washrooms are...or a good nearby tree/bush will do! The easiest thing is being able to be one with the outdoors and step out and explore and having everything you own with you in one small space!

 Vanlife Interior Determined Life Skoolie Short bus diy home

What about the bus will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
Living in a bus helps you realize what is really a necessity and important. It helps you connect more and save more money by choosing where to stay and when and being able to see more of the beautiful planet. We couldn't decide where in BC we wanted to live and so we thought a bus would be the perfect solution so that we could live in every place for a short while and see more beautiful sights.

 

What have been people’s reactions to you buying a bus to live in? Have you met other Skoolies?

People’s reactions have been a bit mixed, some good, some negative, some think we're crazy haha but for the most part good. Most people we meet are excited for us being that we are some of the youngest people(that we have met at least) doing this and how creative we have been with it by taking our hobbies on the road with us. A lot of older people tell us they are living vicariously through us and it makes them smile! We have met a few other skoolies. While we were living in Squamish, BC, last summer we met an awesome skoolie named Doris and a few other buses but mostly a lot of vans there that were awesome as well! We are excited to get back to BC to see more bus/ van lifer’s again and go on tons of adventures.

 

What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion?

Our most memorable, favorite place that we have traveled in Gus Bus so far would have to be Buttle Lake on Vancouver Island.

 Vancouver Island Determined Life bus

How can people learn more about you (social media, website, etc.)?

We have an Instagram account as well as a Facebook page called @determinedlifeadventures. We also have a website, determinedlifeadventures.com where we write our unique travel stories in a blog(like the time we slept in a haunted parking lot), share our Youtube videos, our photography and our handmade and painted longboards that we build. We also have a Youtube channel @determinedlifeadventures where we create fun buslife & adventure & wellness videos.

Bus Vanlife Couple Logan Booke Determined Life

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Tech designer best friends trade NYC desk jobs for 250sqft home on wheels

 Raven and Brie International DIY Bus Conversion a Soul Vacation


We’re Raven and Brie, originally from Texas and New Jersey, but we met in NYC in 2017. We worked together as designers in the tech industry and have been best friends ever since. We’re both adventurous, love to travel, and know that neither of us is made to live life sitting behind a desk. Add to that the fact that we’re both crazy enough to want to live in 250 sq. ft. together, and here we are!

 International Bus Conversion a Soul Vacation

Bus Specs:
Make: International
Model: RE300
Motor: Allison DT466
Year: 2004
Interior Square Footage: 250 sqft
Current Location: Texas
Purchased From/Location: M&M Auto Salvage in Ruckersville, VA
Cost in materials for the conversion: The limit does not exist (but honestly, we lost track)
Total time from the purchase date to on the road: What year is it again?


Why a bus?
We love an unconventional moment! We knew we wanted a complete lifestyle change and explored several options, but we just kept coming back to a bus. The idea of bus life felt unfamiliar enough that it would make for an ultimate adventure but approachable enough that we wouldn’t be completely on our own. As we started doing research, we found comfort in knowing that there was a sense of community already established and enough people that had come before us that we could learn from as we tackled the conversion.

We both love to travel but also need a sense of stability and familiarity from time to time, so being able to travel in our home felt like the perfect balance for us. We also liked the idea of having creative control over the build, as opposed to doing an RV renovation where it seemed we would have more limitations.

 

What have been people’s reactions to you buying a bus to live in?
Reactions have generally been positive and supportive, but definitely range depending on how well a person knows us. The people closest to us pretty much all reacted with mild shock, then an “Oh, that makes sense”. Neither of us has ever been known for following typical paths in life. People who don’t know us quite as well usually reacted with a laugh followed by questions. So. Many. Questions. Our coworkers tended to react in a similar way with an added level of envy. In front of our manager, one of them even asked how she could be expected to continue working at a corporate job anymore knowing she could be doing something so much more purposeful. We love to see it!

 Skoolie Floorplan a Soul Vacation

Does your bus have a name or phrase you call it? If so, why did you choose it?
We throw around BABS every now and then which is short for Big Ass Bus (and she definitely lives up to that at 40’ long) but we focused more on naming the journey as a whole— which we are calling “A Soul Vacation”. We spent several weeks trying to nail down the perfect name, something that would represent the big adventure as well as the “why” behind it all: a transition to a more meaningful and purposeful lifestyle. Reclaiming our freedom and happiness, and distancing ourselves from the systems and structures that were stealing our joy.

Cut to us on a road trip to rural Pennsylvania to pick up our new RV windows. “Drops of Jupiter” by Train is playing, which we’d heard and sang along to a million times, but the line about a soul vacation suddenly had a new meaning. We knew it was the perfect symbol for our new pursuit of happiness.

Brie and Raven Hazmat skoolie A Soul Vacation DIY Bus Conversion
Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
After we quit our jobs, we left the city and moved in with Brie’s parents in New Jersey. We worked on the bus in their backyard for 8ish months. We will finish the build at Raven’s mom’s house in Texas. We love extreme temperatures apparently—northeastern winters with single-digit low temps to Texas in the middle of summer. We need serious help.

 

Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We set out with the goal of doing everything ourselves. But along the way, we realized that sometimes you just need to pivot. We decided to call in the professionals for a few projects (shout out to Skoolie.com) and it has lifted a huge weight off of our shoulders!

Were you all on the same page about living bus life or did one person (or more) have to be convinced?
On the same page from the start! Which was one of the main deciding factors for us? We couldn’t pass up the fact that we both wanted to uproot our comfortable lives and leave our favorite city to chase this crazy dream. So we made a plan, quit our jobs, and fully invested ourselves in this project.

 

Ceiling Skoolie a Soul Vacation DIY
What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
We are designers by trade, so our backgrounds are in solving problems creatively. This has afforded us unique perspectives and experiences when it comes to working within design constraints and using what we have to create ideal solutions and has definitely been an advantage for us in this process. With regards to the actual building, Raven grew up around home renovation projects. Her mom is a bit of a DIY queen who taught her all about power tools and building basics from a young age. Brie loves to research (so much so that we call it “Briesearch”) which is kind of an important skill to have when you’re learning how to build a home from the ground up!

This is still very much a learning process for us and we’re learning new things every single day, literally. The first thing we had to teach ourselves was how to drive a 40’ bus, which still seems a little crazy when we think about it. Throughout the demo process, we learned how to use countless new tools—to think, we had never even used a ratchet before we started this! We’ve learned about bus systems like heating and AC, and now that we’re finally starting to build, we’re learning more about the mechanics of the bus and how to actually apply basic building skills to create a home.

 

Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this?
Our top three pieces of advice are: One, no matter how long people tell you their build took, be prepared for your pace to be different. It’s easier said than done, but try not to compare your progress to other people’s—it diminishes your efforts and steals your joy. We are constantly working on this.

Two, avoid converting in winter if you can. Besides just trying to survive the pain of bone-chilling cold, most building materials don’t do their best work in winter temperatures. Trying to get them to work in conditions they’re not made for will often lead to even more headaches and heartbreaks than you signed up for by doing a bus conversion.

And three, although there’s an amazing, established skoolie community providing tons of research and advice to work from, not everything is out there. Keep in mind that sometimes your specific problem might not have an answer on the internet so you’ll have to get creative and figure it out for yourself. That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for help! We haven’t come across anyone who hasn’t been willing to help us yet.

 Subfloor Skoolie A Soul Vacation DIY Bus Conversion


What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
The skoolie community is filled with couples and solo travelers, but we’re two best friends doing this together. Something really important to us was finding a way to each have our own space, even in such close quarters, without sacrificing any of the common areas. The two-bedroom solution we’ve come up with (props to Raven for being the mastermind behind it) is something we haven’t seen in any other conversion yet. We can’t wait for everyone to see it!

 

How has the pandemic affected bus life for you?
It slowed down what felt like already slowwww progress. It made our daily trips to hardware stores a lot more challenging and time-consuming. And really eliminated them completely during the strict stay at home orders in New Jersey. We’ve also had to work through the emotional tolls it’s taken. Some days it was extremely difficult to find the motivation to work on the bus with so much devastation all around us, especially just having left New York and watching the daily updates of our city struggling so badly. The pandemic has also reminded us how lucky we are for our health and the resources available to us that allow us to maintain our comfort and lifestyle. And reinforced the notion that life is short and can’t be taken for granted.

 Brie and Raven Skoolie A Soul Vacation DIY Bus Conversion

Follow this build! Keep up with A Soul Vacation on their Instagram.

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Solo Nomadic Traveler Converts Econoline E450 Shuttle Bus

Meet Brad! Next up in The Bus Fair Feature Series, Brad shares his experience surviving three hurricanes while on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands and how they changed his life -- for the better! After coming home with a new sense of direction, Brad takes us through his thought process that brought him into nomadic living, first with the Econoline E-250 van and then to the Econoline E450 shuttle bus with his pup, Lucy.

Nomad Brad Shuttle Bus conversion


Everything changed for me about three years ago. I experienced three hurricanes during my two-week vacation to St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. Out of the three, Hurricane Maria was by far the most devastating. The hurricane itself came and went in about five hours but the aftermath of shredded houses and downed power lines would last much longer. Food was limited and we drank swimming pool water for about a week until relief provided us with a bucket water-filter system. We had minimal possessions and no cell service or flights off the island for about a month. The situation sounds tragic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I experienced happiness and a sense of community like never before. Everyone was pitching in to help clean up. We stacked sandbags with smiles. Hugs and Jokes were being exchanged instead of memes and complaints. We were cut off from the internet, and the rest of the world. It was at this moment that I found my happiness. Helping others, finding community, and living a minimalist life. I truly believe that the world would be a better place if we all had a little hurricane in our life.

Upon returning to the States, I knew that my life course had been forever changed. I started consuming content based around minimalism, alternative lifestyles, and the quest for happiness. I ultimately stumbled upon “Cheap RV Living” and “Adventure Van Man” through YouTube. I saw a different life. One where I could live with less and spend my days in nature. One where my mind was focused on my next adventure rather than my next purchase. Within about 60 days, I sold everything I owned and bought a 2005 Ford Econoline. I let the lease on my apartment expire and drove to my dad's house to complete the build-out.


Fast forward 1.5 years. I was still extremely satisfied with the nomadic lifestyle that vanlife had provided. However, I desired more room. I found that in my van I didn’t really leave the bed. Sleeping, relaxing, and watching Netflix all happened while lying on the bed. Cooking and working on my laptop happened while seated at the edge of my bed. I couldn’t fully stand up and missed the experience of walking around my “house”. I knew that I could not give up this nomadic lifestyle but needed a new “house” I started consuming content again. I took a deep dive into YouTube and watched tours of every type of mobile living scenario possible: van, bus, camper, cargo trailer, box truck, ambulance. Ultimately, I was happy with the ford Econoline drivetrain on my E-250 van and so an Econoline bus was very appealing to me.

My requirements:
Headroom to fully stand up/get dressed
Length to walk around
Small enough to park in most spaces

After searching all the usual online marketplaces, I found exactly what I was looking for. One hundred miles away from where I was staying there was a 10-passenger (20’ total length only 2’ longer than my van) 2000 Ford E-450 7.3L diesel shuttle bus for sale. It had only 127,000 miles and the seller was willing to drop the price down to $4,000. A series of events took place that could be described as nothing short of a miracle. I was able to move mountains and become the new owner of the exact vehicle that my heart desired. After purchasing the bus, I drove it nearly 300 miles to my dad's house where I would start the build-out.

After 6 months of full-time bus living, I am so happy that I made the switch. This bus is everything I was missing, and it even gets an additional 2mpg more than my van! Vanlife was a great introduction to the nomadic lifestyle and included an additional level of “stealth” that was very much appreciated as I adjusted to life on the road. As a seasoned nomad, I recommend everyone who feels the calling to give it a try. Just go with whatever you can afford and if you decide to stick around, buy the vehicle you really want on the second time. It’s nearly impossible to know what you really want/need until you get out and start living.

Econoline shuttle bus 7.3L turbo diesel mountain road trip


Bus specs:

Make: Ford
Model: Econoline E450
Motor: 7.3L turbodiesel
Year: 2000
Interior square footage:105ft2
Current location: Oregon
Purchased from/Location: Las Vegas
Cost Breakdown: Bus:$4,000
Tires/maintenance to get it roadworthy: $2,000
Conversion Materials/Equipment: $2,500
Conversion time working all day/ every day: 6 weeks

 

Does your bus have a name or phrase you call it? If so, why did you choose it?
I have not named my bus...I am not opposed, however, nothing has inspired a name yet.


Will you be full-timing?
I have been full-timing for the past 2 years and will continue to do so.

Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
I completed this conversion myself with some help from my father. It is my second full build-out. I learned a
lot while building my van and brought those lessons over to this bus build which Is why I was able to build it fairly quickly.

Who are you living/traveling with?
I am living with my dog Lucy.

Nomad Brad Boston Terrier Bus Conversion shuttle bus

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
Building a complete bus requires many skills…Electrical, mechanical, plumbing, general construction. I was fortunate to have a background in this as I spent 10 years in the HVAC(Heating, Ventilation, and air conditioning) industry which taught me the required skills to complete this bus build in a semi-professional manner.

Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this? Any current troubles?
The big tip I have for everyone considering this lifestyle is to simply get out and try it. Buy something cheap or simply rent a UHAUL box truck and fill it with camping gear. This is the best way to decide if this lifestyle is really for you and which type of vehicle you will be most comfortable in. I see so many “newbies” online that are getting caught up in the consumerism of “vanlife”. Spending days debating brands and colors/finishes. Or even worse, financing an expensive vehicle/build only to decide that they prefer the comforts of sticks and bricks.

Digital nomad offgrid home on wheels econoline shuttle bus



What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
The most unique feature of my conversion is the sliding window panel that I made from kitchen drawer slides. I have not seen it done before. It allows me to effortlessly open or close the window covering from my desk.

What do you do for income? How often do you work while on the bus?
For income, I am a digital content creator. This is mostly gig work and includes photography/videography and social media account management for several clients. Pay is not great, but my expenses are low and I get to live life on my terms…which is most important to me.

Digital nomad content creator computer setup on the road nomad brad

What about the bus will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
My lifestyle goals include spending more time and nature and avoiding the rat race. The bus helps me achieve this by providing a low-cost place for me to live and allowing me to sleep among the trees and travel to many new locations.


What have been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in?
When people find out that I’m living in a bus, their reaction is usually one of curiosity. They are generally aware that people are living in vehicles but confused as to what would motivate someone to do so and what this lifestyle actually looks like. The first question is often “where do you go to the bathroom” I find it funny that of all the things one could be concerned about in regards to sustaining human life... using the bathroom is at the top of their list.

DIY shuttle Bus conversion front view from bed Nomad Brad

Have you met other skoolies or buslifers on the road?
I have met several bus dwellers, all of which have been warm and welcoming. I suppose at some level, we realize that we are all in this together. When a fellow bus dweller is having mechanical troubles, it sparks compassion as you remember that time you broke down on the side of the road. You remember the feelings of helplessness and uncertainty. And so you offer to help however you can. You offer a shoulder to cry on and comforting words to help carry them through the darkness. And when the clouds pass, you’ll see them at their best again. Lounging in a hammock under the trees, hiking along the river, or sharing a cup of tea consisting of freshly foraged wild mint and pine needles. You will find good people out here, it’s a community that operates on gratitude and kindness.

 

Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?
I am very happy with the layout of my build. The bed is “full” size and situated sideways in the back. There is a large door that opens allowing me to use all the space under the bed as storage. Also when I'm parked somewhere especially beautiful, I can open the door and lay in bed looking out at Nature's current offering.
About a third of my bus is the kitchen area. I have a fridge, Instant Pot, blender, propane stove, sink, and large prep surface. I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, so the workspace was important to me. I don’t really have a bathroom. There is no shower, and my toilet is just a small camp version that slides under the bed.

Nurtibullet fruit smoothie nomad brad Nurtabullet fruit smoothie nomad brad

What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion?
The most memorable place I have traveled was not due to the geographical location, but rather the people I met there. Summer 2019 I spent 4 days at a vehicle dwellers festival. It was pure magic. I feel like I lived an entire lifetime in just 4 days. I met friends who I now talk to more than family. We shared experiences that can’t really be put into words. For me, the relationships I have made from living on the road are priceless. I have seen beautiful waterfalls and sunsets, but they don’t truly come alive until they are shared.

Where do you project you’ll be three months from now?
Three months from now is about a year in nomad time. It’s hard to plan that far in advance when you have nothing holding you down. Physically, I believe I will be somewhere in the state of Oregon. The universe will have to fill in the rest.

You can follow Brad's journey on Instagram @nomad_brad_503

Nomad Brad Umbrella Shuttle Bus conversion

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