I never imagined we would own a school bus, but I guess I don't know myself very well. You see, I'm the kind of guy who loves vehicles, unusual vehicles. Over the years I've purchased more than my fare share of vehicles, usually they are projects that get worked on or sit for years until I sell them. This (infection) began when I was 13 and purchased a 1962 Ford Rachero from a family friend. That car sat in the drive way for years until my friend's dad bought it from me and began restoring it. This led to my Volkswagen bug projects, diesel Mercedes projects, Land Rover projects and my Subaru projects. For some reason I love a good project vehicle. There have been many other vehicles including 2 Volkswagen buses we sold to purchase our school bus, more on that later.
The idea for a project bus came about after searching the web for a travel trailer. Some of our closest friends had recently purchased a travel trailer for vacationing and camping, and since we usually travel with them we decided to start researching trailers. Thats when we stumbled across school bus to RV conversions. My first thought was this is awesome, but it would never happen. I showed my wife and she liked the idea and from there the school bus day dreaming became more and more frequent. At first it seemed like a completely new trend, but then we found out people have been doing it for decades. There are even entire websites with forums dedicated to converting school buses.
The big question was: Why is a school bus better than a travel trailer or RV?
Here are a few reasons why we decided a bus was best for us:
Buses don't require another vehicle to use them.
While travel trailers are nice they require a vehicle to pull them with. We wanted to avoid having a payment and insurance ($$$) on vehicle we would use to pull a travel trailer a few times a year. RV insurance on a converted bus is around $150 to $250 a year.
Buses are big metal boxes that are completely customizable.
Traditional RV's are usually a wood framed box covered in fiberglass panels on the back of a pickup truck chassis. They are usually built with the cheapest material possible and are often referred to as sticks and staples RVs. They also tend to have the interior stylings that are most pleasing to Grandma (our friends did an epic job sprucing up their trailer). Buy some of grandmas favorite perfume and spray a heavy helping in the RV and it will be as if Grandma is camping with you. When you rip the seats out of a school bus it gives you a blank canvas to make the RV of your dreams. You can have whatever you would like in your bus, how about a petting zoo, hot tub, or maybe a ball pit. The point is buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road and when the seats, hidden gum, and smelly rubber floors are removed they are a great platform for RV conversions.
Buses are pretty affordable to purchase.
RV's and travel trailers are expensive A decent RV/trailer will cost anywhere from $6k to $106K and more. A used well maintained school bus that is ready to be sent to pasture by the local school district can be purchased for as little as $1k to $5k depending on the size, milage and age. I wish I could speak to how much a RV conversion costs, but from what I've seen it seems that it can be done on almost any budget depending on how resourceful one is.
There are plenty more reasons why a school bus makes sense to us and I'm sure there are plenty of reasons a school bus doesn't make sense. I'll cover some of the potential cons of school bus ownership (yeah right, there can't possibly be any) in a future post. When it comes down to it, my wife and I just love the idea and I didn't want to go the rest of my life dreaming about the school bus I never bought because it was too risky or didn't make sense. Whether its complete failure or a total success I'm sure we will learn something from the experience and have fun along the way.
As Miss Frizzle always said "Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy."
Thanks for the read! More posts to come.