Converting A School Bus

Converting A School Bus
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Over the past 4 and half months we have bought, stripped, and transformed our mini school bus into our home.

It’s been quite the process to say the least. We’ve learned so much by doing everything with our own two hands and we are extremely grateful for our friends and family who have helped us throughout the process.

There is a lot to cover with our bus build. This will be a multipart blog taking you through each step we took along the way!

For blog one, here’s a little bit about the first step to any bus build…


“Why did we get a bus and not just an RV?”

Before beginning, let’s address this question! Grace and I have been asked it more times than anything else! Here are our reasons for choosing a bus over both an rv and a van.

  1. We wanted the challenge of starting from scratch and making something ourselves. While the bus has brought us some hard and stressful days, it has also taught us things we would have never have learned otherwise.
  2. Buses are just different! We love the energy and feel of being in a bus. It fits us. Grace and I are both energy people, and a bus just has the right energy for us.
  3. Buses are wider! Being in a bus allows us to put our bed side to side, unlike the vans where the bed needs to go back to front. This gives us more space to walk around (like an rv)

Starting mid April, we were spending whatever time we could searching for buses. After discussing different options, here’s what we knew we wanted:

  1. Short bus- preferably 5 windows
  2. More maneuverable and easier to drive than a larger bus.
  3. Easier to find places to stay the night.
  4. Smaller size means more options as far as tire changes, oil changes, etc.
  5. Less time and money consuming than a larger bus (Bigger the bus= more supplies+more time+more money)
  6. Gas Engine
  7. Some people say Diesel and some say gas. Ultimately, we decided to go gas engine. Not only are they easier to work on, they are less expensive. While the Diesel engines will handle heavy work loads, we decided to go for a bus that was in good shape with low mileage.
  9. This was probably our biggest concern after reading so many horror stories of people buying buses that are being rotted from rust. Obviously, we wanted to avoid as much rust on a bus as possible (the big worry is structural rust).

The process of finding a bus that fits both your wants and your price range can be extremely difficult. Many people spend countless hours searching online and still come up empty handed, or, with something that wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. We weren’t sure how long it would be until we found what we were looking for, but thankfully it wasn’t too much later!

We purchased our bus in the middle of May right outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Funny enough, we had passed this same bus on our way home from Myrtle Beach, SC following our finale of our Walk Across America! It looked like an awesome bus, but we assumed it was just getting work done as it was outside of a Mechanic garage.

Several weeks later, Grace’s dad was driving south and once again saw the bus. He first passed the bus, and then thankfully turned around to see if he could get more information. He was able to talk with the owner (even we were via FaceTime haha) and she said that the bus was indeed for sale, and the price range was exactly what we looking for!

A few days later, after being approved for our first ever loan, we drove down to the shop where we had first seen it with smiles on our faces and a check in our hands. After looking the bus over and taking it for a test run, we knew we had our dream bus!

The drive back to Cedar Rapids went about as smooth as you could expect. There was no structural rust, extremely well taken care of, and extremely low miles! Once we got back, we admired our new home as we enjoyed an adult cold beverage and began game planning our next steps!

Here is a look at our bus when we first got it! Everyone say hello to Timmy II.

2007 Chevy Express Mid Bus

5 windows

6.0 Gasoline Vortec Engine (Only 39,000 miles!!!)

Minimal Underbody Rust!

Overall, we are extremely happy with it! We ended up getting exactly what we wanted. Besides a few repairs needed on the serpentine belt and the air conditioner, Timmy 2 has done pretty well given how far we’ve traveled already!

Thanks for taking the time to read about our home’s beginning! It means a lot to us!

Next time in the “Our bus” series, we will dive into what it looks like to remove the guts of the bus! No more chairs, no more floor, and fresh clean slate to build!

See you next time!


Matt, Grace, Foxi & Nemo

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