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Old 11-18-2017, 06:07 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 3
How much does it cost to OWN & OPERATE a skoolie?

Hi everyone, new member here with my first official question. For context, my wife and I plan on quitting our jobs for 1-2 years and I want to budget for that appropriately. I'm not asking how much a bus conversion costs. I'm already budgeting around $30k for that project. I'm really curious about all of the miscellaneous expenses of owning a bus.
  • How much should I expect to pay for insurance?
  • General annual maintenance?
  • We'd like to travel around North America then head south to Patagonia. How much/how often do you need to refuel?
  • How do we plan for healthcare (this one is rhetorical)?
I'm sure there are tons of expenses I'm missing. Is there anything else we need to consider?


I didn't see anything like this when searching the forums.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-01-2017, 09:07 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: SW WA On the beach
Posts: 46
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DTA466
Rated Cap: 40 ish rugrats
If the tires are good and not too old you did well. If they are more then 6 years old think about $3000 for a set of six 11R x 22.5 tires. Less if you take a smaller size. I'm presuming you have a medium duty diesel and an Allison trans. Figure about $500 in materials to change all fluids/filters with you doing the work. A lot more if you have to farm it out. You should then be good to go. Figure an oil change every 5k miles ($80 for oil & filters), the rest of the fluids will be good for 2 years. Brakes are about $100-$150 per wheel (done by others, Wheels and drums are too heavy for a mere mortal to handle). If it has air brakes, figure $100 for each air chamber and hose (done by you or add for labor) as needed.

10 miles per gallon of diesel as an average, about $0.30 per mile.

The rest is dependent on whether or not you can do the work yourself. I do all my own work (except tire and brake drum removal) so I am not too familiar with labor costs.

BTW, you know you cannot drive to Patagonia, right? The Darien Gap south of Panama is all undeveloped (and dangerous) jungle. You will have ship the bus from Panama to Columbia. That cost $300 for a motorcycle, lots more for a school bus.

Good luck in your travels
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Old 12-01-2017, 09:11 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 17,997
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
I get tires new for $250-$300 each installed.
Just did my oil change and even threw a new air filter on it. Total for both filters and the oil was $175.
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