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Old 02-01-2015, 10:05 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Be honest - was it worth it?

So we've just gotten our bus, nothing even done to her yet, but we've received our first real bit of criticism about wanting to reno a bus and move into it as our house whilst we look for land to homestead on. While the negative reaction was something that didn't surprise me, I'm curious about everyone's overall feelings about the experience of turning your rig into a camper or your home. How long did it take? What did it ultimately end up costing you? Would you do it again, given the choice to do so? What was the most surprising thing that happened while doing the work? Do you live in it full-time, part-time, or just vacation in it?

We're undaunted - we knew we'd face some critics - but it has me curious about the highs and lows of turning a bus into a skoolie. Thanks for any insight.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:15 PM   #2
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Most people think its cool. Some are jerks but theyre usually the materialistic types anyhow. Or just have no imagination.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:17 PM   #3
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most of the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, or at least fair-to-middling. the person being negative is someone with a history of being negative. so no real surprise there, lol
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by true View Post
So we've just gotten our bus, nothing even done to her yet, but we've received our first real bit of criticism about wanting to reno a bus and move into it as our house whilst we look for land to homestead on. While the negative reaction was something that didn't surprise me, I'm curious about everyone's overall feelings about the experience of turning your rig into a camper or your home. How long did it take? What did it ultimately end up costing you? Would you do it again, given the choice to do so? What was the most surprising thing that happened while doing the work? Do you live in it full-time, part-time, or just vacation in it?

We're undaunted - we knew we'd face some critics - but it has me curious about the highs and lows of turning a bus into a skoolie. Thanks for any insight.

So we just got our bus this week... and I stopped in the RV place to look on the clearance shelves for a cooktop. I told the sales guy that we bought a bus and were just starting to convert it... man, he ranted about how it will cost more than a decent RV... and it would cause so many headaches... and some parks wouldn't let us in... blah blah blah...

The three reasons I got the bus:
#1. I love building things... and I've never redone a bus. It's something the whole family can get excited about and do together.
#2. My wife did a bunch of research on RV safety... and bottom line is that they suck for traveling safely. My four kiddos are precious and if we are driving across the country... I want to keep them safe. School busses are WAY safer than Class C's or Class A's.
and
#3. It's just plain old f'ing cool.

Point is, we all have our reasons.

If you want the most "bang for your buck..." buy a late model Class A... or better yet, just stay home and save your money... or even better put your money in treasury bonds... WAIT THAT'S BORING! Traveling is just an experience... and building a skoolie is an experience as well. For me, building it is one of the most fun parts of the gig. Sounds like you as well. We will see you on the road soon.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:47 PM   #5
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it is plain old f'ing cool. what was kind of funny about our conversation was her assertion that one shouldn't borrow money for dreams, to save for it first (we jumped on our bus pretty quick so it didn't get snatched out from under us, so my dad agreed to loan us three grand til our tax return comes in next month). i asked if she would have the same issue if we took out a mortgage, to which she responded that you make money on a house. yeah, some do...and some end up underwater, wanting to move out of a place that's worth less than they owe. i'll take a bus, thanks very much
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by true View Post
...you make money on a house.
Do people still really think this?

I haven't done serious math on it, but this statement never made much sense to me.

Buy a house for (very low end) $120,000. Sell it in 15 years for $150,000. Woohoo! $30,000 profit!! EXCEPT that with inflation that $120,000 that was paid 15 years prior is realistically worth closer to $160,000 in the present day. Add in maintenance, upgrades, building supplies, insurance, etc and it seems there is little real profit. A house is an ok way to sit on money and have a place to live (of course), but - unless you're a professional contractor - it ain't a money making venture. Otherwise, if you just so happen to own a house in what becomes a boom-town, you might get real lucky.

I occasionally read articles posted by Garth Turner. He's a financial advisor who rents because he can put that home-owning money into investments that actually deliver dividends greater than the inflation rate. Renting means there are no additional maintenance bills.

All this said, I do plan on owning my own house. But it's going to be modest and built by me, friends and a few professionals for electrical and such. And I won't ever expect to sell it for a profit. I plan to live well and eventually die in it


On to the original question now! My skoolie project has absolutely been worth it. Sure, it's taken 2 more years than anticipated to get to where I currently am. Sure, certain things have been more expensive than anticipated. Overall, though, it's been a fantastic hobby with real, practical results. I enjoy building and tweaking it and developing new skills throughout the process. There are many worse things I could be doing with my time.

For those who don't enjoy scraping, painting, welding, building, puzzling, cussing, bleeding: walk away. For the price, you'll be better off with a converted van, or late 90s rv.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:49 AM   #7
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My block house on a third of an acre cost me 46k. bought it outright.
You CAN make money on a house, but not doing it the "American way".
You're right about buses being a rewarding endeavor. I can think of way worse things to spend time and money on.
I could list them but we all can imagine many things.
I also think you hit the nail on the head with that last part too. If one really doesn't enjoy learning and hard work its probably a much better idea to buy prefab. I see so many "conversion started" buses for sale out there...
Some people buy a bus then ask questions. I don't think that's a good idea. figure out the legalities and practicalities of it before, or one can end up with lots of headaches and expenses. Buses definitely aren't for everyone.
But I think more people would be happier if they tried something like this.
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:54 PM   #8
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Was it worth it? Yes. But it's not finished... yet. Okay, it will never be finished. I will remodel until I take my last breath. My goal is to find a place that I like and buy a little bit of land to park the bus on (old mobile home lot) that already has electric, water & sewer on it. I've got to help my daughter convert a bus for herself and we need a place to do it at. Until then, I will live in my mobile apartment.
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Old 02-02-2015, 04:09 PM   #9
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Safety was my main point, as well. Seeing simply the cage that holds the fuel tank under my bus is pretty freakin' awesome! A train would have to him me to even touch it!

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Old 02-02-2015, 04:37 PM   #10
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i hate to admit it, but we're kinda in the "buy a bus, then ask questions" category, haha. The right bus came along, and we pounced before the next guy (we saw it on a tuesday, fell in love, and learned that a buyer who'd bought buses from these people before was gonna buy it that thursday if he liked it. nothing ventured, nothing gained).

we're very much people who want to do for ourselves what we can. i'm married to a guy who very much enjoys creating things with his own two hands, and learning new solutions to problems. we've got the bus, we're gonna tear out the seats, and then we're gonna read and learn (and read and learn, and read and learn) before we do too much else. it sounds like we're in good company, in wanting to find land to settle down on and hand-build our own house. the bus seemed like a great way to have a house already on hand wherever we eventually end up. this is less about traveling (though we want to do some of that, just not full-time - we've got three little girls) and more about having a house wherever we are. if it sits for a few months before we even do anything major, so be it. we're on a long timeline
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