It’s a whirlwind of a story on how we found ourselves proud owners of a 20-year-old yellow, school bus. It was grimy, a thin layer of dirt covered the seats, gum plastered to the sides and under the seats. We found old gum wrappers, a pencil and 47 cents inside of it. The bus has no AC despite spending most of its prime years hauling around school kids in Phoenix. It’s hot and super loud when driving, barely being able to push the 70 mph speed limit. But who am I kidding, I’ve never actually ridden in it to experience that just yet.
Truth be told, bus life was never really on our radar for tiny living. As much as I thought the idea of converting a bus was cool, Colby was never on board with it. I don’t blame him though. With being over 6 ft in height, headspace becomes a huge issue when it comes to school buses. Life of always having to duck or not being able to stand up straight in the kitchen or bathroom would get tiring real quick. Tall people problems I know nothing about.
As you can guess, our minds where changed once we started to add up the numbers. After much debate over a very short time, we decided to consider the school bus option. We started to think out of the box options on how we could make bus life work for us. Why? Because it’s the most affordable way to get into tiny living that we know of. This also means more savings for us after this hurdle of having to spend money to make a home. It’s our temporary solution to our long term problem on us working on creating a lifestyle that we have envisioned for ourselves.
Some days it seems impractical to spend close to $15,000 – 20,000 (this number seems to be the average) on essentially a home that we won’t be in forever. But for us, it’s worth it. Our bus will provide a way for us to save money. Which in return would allow us to travel, something we value so much. It gives the ability to be mobile so that we can find that place that we want to call home one day. It gives us something to live in while we build our dream home. So for us, it’s worth it. Like I said earlier, a temporary solution to a long term problem.
I guess our story is a little different than your average bus life family you might find on Instagram or YouTube. We are the same in the fact that we love to adventure, be out in the outdoors, believe tiny living and think minimalism is awesome. We value experiences over possessions and so much more. But we are different because we don’t have location remote jobs. I’m currently doing that stay at home thing and Colby works in the medical field. Sure we dream of having remote jobs so that we could be free to go anywhere, but it’s not a thing right at this moment.
Our daughter goes to school, every day of the week. At this time, we don’t home school and of course, this makes it difficult to move around a lot. This may change in the future, but we aren’t sure. All of this means is that we will be living a very ordinary life, except on a bus for the first year anyway while we save up some money. It means us taking advantage of long weekends and school vacations. It means that we won’t be posting epic scenery pictures of us and the bus because we won’t be moving it that often.
Naming the bus
I knew the moment we bought the bus, it was going to need a name. None of our other cars or homes have names, but this felt different. It was the same feeling that I get when a new plant comes into our lives, it always gets named. I instantly knew our school bus was a girl even before Colby turned on the engine for the very first time. As we were in the car, I brainstormed with the kids what we should call the bus. Should it be a dinosaur name? Our daughter voted for Sparkle, or Glitter or some magical pony name. I wanted to call her Lucy. Our son was cool with whatever.
As I should have known, Colby didn’t love any of the names that we had come up with, although by then our daughter was already calling the bus Lucy. Why does naming something as simple as your yellow school bus have to be so hard? For a few days we tossed around names, but nothing stuck. We finally were inspired after a conversation referencing Peter Pan and our bus being in the woods to name her Wendy. So she is Wendy the Bus.
One of the biggest challenges we have found is finding a place to park the bus while we convert it into a home. Sure we could put it in storage, but that would cost money that we don’t have. So she is parked 2.5 hours away on family land. This means we don’t get to work on her as often. But right now in Arizona, it’s so hot that working on the bus is limited to early mornings and evenings anyway.
Our lease on our current living situation ends at the end of April. So that’s our move-in date, no matter if the bus is completed or not. Let’s be honest, the bus will be nowhere close to being done. We will only have the absolute essentials. Which is insulation and floors, water, toilet, heat, and electricity. We have a camping stove for cooking. Our mattress will be directly on the floor. There won’t be beautifully built-in bed spaces for the kids or us. No kitchen counter, or kitchen storage spaces. No couch or table. Not even a shower. Maybe no internet.
You got it, we will be roughing it for the first month while the school year comes to an end. I won’t be lying if I were to tell you that I’m a bit scared for that month. So many changes to move into such a small space as a family of 4 plus the dogs. And yet to not have the comforts of a normal home seems terrifying. But we are tough. And I can do anything for a month is what I keep telling myself anyway.
Our family is so excited about this new adventure we are on. Even though we are only roughly 1.5 months into the build, there have been frustrations and we’ve learned it’s not for the timid to take on a bus build. It’s long hours of manual labor and our bodies ache from it. But it’s also fun and rewarding. We are learning how tough we are, how dedicated we can be. It’s challenging us to think outside the box and dive into a world where we have no experience in.
We plan to share our journey along the way, so stay tuned for more updates as they come. If you are interested in following along for more real-time updates, we suggest heading over to our Instagram accounts. Yes, Wendy has her own.