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Old 08-17-2016, 07:36 AM   #1
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Location: Detroit
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Red face Ginger family from Detroit- Hello and need a bus!

Hi everyone. We are a family that is interested in making a Skoolie! We were looking into a tiny house but we just don't have the money. My hubby Bob has been off of work a few months on medical, and is expected to be unable to return (crohns disease, has applied for disability). We have 2 young children, Lily is 2 and Ashlyn is 6 months (both red headed ginger babies, just like me). Due to overwhelming bills and having to pay his work to try and keep our insurance were going to join the life of living big on less by building and living in a Skoolie full time!

Crazy maybe (not to you all i'm sure), but debt has overtaken our life and I want freedom. We live near Detroit. My hubby is a mechanic so hoping his skills with mechanics, welding and machining will go a long way. Currently looking for a cheap 40 footer, or the biggest we can get. I am a CAD designer so i can adjust our current design to fit whatever we pick up. Any tips for a noob and raising a family in a Skoolie?

We just started this journey a few weeks ago. Anyone local with a free or cheap bus, or any tips on local auctions to get one?
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Old 08-17-2016, 07:39 AM   #2
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welcome aboard yall!
I'd say shop around before buying local. The rustiest bus I've ever seen was a buddy's late 90's Bluebird. Hes from Flint, IIRC. Every part of that bus was GONE from rust. FL buses are usually pretty much junk, so I went north to KY for mine. Glad I did.
Best of luck in your search. Just do a lot of research and thinking and figure out what bus suits you best.
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Old 08-17-2016, 11:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerCADGirl View Post
Hi everyone. We are a family that is interested in making a Skoolie! We were looking into a tiny house but we just don't have the money. My hubby Bob has been off of work a few months on medical, and is expected to be unable to return (crohns disease, has applied for disability). We have 2 young children, Lily is 2 and Ashlyn is 6 months (both red headed ginger babies, just like me). Due to overwhelming bills and having to pay his work to try and keep our insurance were going to join the life of living big on less by building and living in a Skoolie full time!

Crazy maybe (not to you all i'm sure), but debt has overtaken our life and I want freedom. We live near Detroit. My hubby is a mechanic so hoping his skills with mechanics, welding and machining will go a long way. Currently looking for a cheap 40 footer, or the biggest we can get. I am a CAD designer so i can adjust our current design to fit whatever we pick up. Any tips for a noob and raising a family in a Skoolie?

We just started this journey a few weeks ago. Anyone local with a free or cheap bus, or any tips on local auctions to get one?
There's a couple Michigan buses on Public Surplus, however they're probably not ideal candidates for conversion because of the rust.

These auctions can also get a little on the high side to the point where you could be paying over 4 grand for a bus with rust and a mediocre drivetrain.
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Old 08-17-2016, 12:44 PM   #4
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Thanks. Yes we are trying to avoid both. Right now we don't have the money, but have some things up for sale hoping soon. We haven't decided on exact model etc that are good for us, just hoping to find cheap and work with what we get.
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Old 08-17-2016, 04:45 PM   #5
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Welcome to you all!

How exciting and incredible frightening a leap

Yep, many of us here sorta lost interest in wasting our hard earned money and energy on rent and mortgage.

Good luck, and remember to breathe!
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Old 08-17-2016, 06:06 PM   #6
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or just want a cool unique way to travel!... been using my bus for all kinds of things
christopher
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:49 PM   #7
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Welcome aboard! Glad you found us.

The first thing that comes to mind non-Skoolie related... Keep your head up and keep your faith!

I'm not a religious person, but believing in yourself and your goals is the best thing you can ever do. Because at the end of the night when you lay your head down, you can feel comforted knowing you're doing everything you can to make a better place for you and your family.

Best wishes
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:28 AM   #8
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Join Date: Aug 2016
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Thanks everyone, we look forward to thus adventure (and debt relief). I'm just itching to get my hands on a bus and my hubby is more rational and wants to get a decent bus that costs more.
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Old 08-18-2016, 10:33 PM   #9
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I have found building a bus is definitely not debt relief. If you build it on the Spartan side, and can manage to find a place in a warmer climate to relocate to, maybe your owne piece of land. You might be able to make it happen and save some serious money in living expenses over time. But if you are building an rv with most of the amenities of a commercial one, it's cost will exceed $25,000 quite quickly. This can still be a money saver if replacing a house. But finding a cheap place to park will be key.

Bill,
Birch Run,Mi
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Old 08-19-2016, 08:00 AM   #10
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Location: Katy, TX
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Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 3208 CAT/MT643 tranny
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Just to help give you guys an idea of what it takes to develop and build a skoolie, my wife and I have taken the better part of six YEARS to get as far as we have gotten with our build. We bought our first bus for $500 from San Antonio, TX, made a BUNCH of errors, learned from them, then searched for three years after buying that bus to find the one we have now, and built up a budget of $23K to get the bus built correctly, safely, and mostly by ourselves - when I say by ourselves I actually mean by me. This is not for the faint of heart. Understanding how to build a home, or, in my case, an apartment complex when I was a teenager, is very advantageous. Going to some of the big-box home retailer workshops is also very helpful in learning some basic home repair and build skills.

I'm always reminding people to first do their research BEFORE spending a penny on something as life changing as this. Look at the older builds and see what people have come across for problems and how they solved those problems, for good or worse, and learn from them (including some of my bone-headed moves).

If you look at my build thread you will see how we have taken our time deliberately to make sure our build comes out how we want it and using as little money to get the job done the way we want it. We're still evolving as we are building. Small changes here and there can make big impacts down the line as we continue our build.

We're up to our eyeballs in debt as well. The bus will be our permanent home once we're to the move-in stage. We already have land lined up for full-timing which gives us a certain advantage most other people may not have available.

Suggestions:

1. Have a piece of land or location already chosen to park/build for your bus.

2. Research the type of bus that fits your family needs. For example, we chose a Thomas Saf-T-Liner 84 passenger rear engine bus with cargo bays, a 643 transmission, and a Cat 3208 engine to give us the largest construction/living area possible, the drivetrain we wanted (yes, I know many people don't like Cats, but I've owned several and LOVED them), the storage capacity we need, and the type of vehicle I enjoy driving.

3. DON'T be afraid to look outside your area to find a great deal. We looked in Texas (where we live), and all over the south and west to find our bus. Finally found an on-line auction in California, called the shop foreman to talk about the bus, went to several skoolie sites to find out the reputation of the school district's surplus buses and if they sold good buses or junkers, bought the bus, flew out to CA, and drove her home. See my thread "Heavy Fuel" for more details.

4. Plan out the floor plan that fits your family needs. Everybody's idea of what they need is as individual as each build here. It's your bus, have fun with it!

Hope these pointers help you find the bus you're looking for and the build you're looking to take on! Get your family involved, especially the kids, and create a lifetime of memories!

Best of wishes,

M
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