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Old 11-21-2016, 07:05 AM   #1
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Hello from the Florida's Space Coast

I've been watching tiny house videos, skoolie conversion video's for awhile now. I am profoundly unhappy with the state of my life. I've talked to nearly everyone I know, and almost nobody is happy. We work and work and work and work, have limited time off, most of the money we make goes to pay for things we don't really want or need. We get little to no enjoyment from the money we spend and we need allot of money just to live.... So the minimalist lifestyle is becoming more and more appealing. My wife is on board with the idea and looking forward to it. I have 14 year old B/G twins, that I'm not sure how happy they will be changing our lives like this, so that will be a challenge.

I know there is a ton of research to do, so I'm going to try and not ask a ton of useless questions that everybody else asks without reading anything. I'm and R2-D2 builder, and that forum is clogged with stupid questions that have been asked and answered 1000's of times.

I actually like my job, so I'd likely stay at that until the kids graduate highschool, and then I plan to hit the road full time, so I'd be stuck in RV parks for a few years.

I have not purchased a bus yet. I want as big a space inside as I can get, with 4 full size humans on board. I plan on doing quite a bit of boondocking after the kids graduate. I kind of need help choosing one.

So I don't know what type of bus to get. I'm an engineer so I can fix many things, but I'm not a mechanic. I'd rather buy once and cry once, but I'm also not willing to sink $30K into this project either. I just want a reliable bus, that is big enough inside. I'd like some ground clearance to make boondocking easier.

I am nervous about where I can get a bus serviced for the mechanical problems I can't fix.

The interior plan:
Living Room converts to Master Bedroom. This is how we live in our space now (basically the living room is unused.). Then kitchen area, must have is a wood stove for heat/ambiance, but it will not be the only heating source. Then bathroom area. Has to have decent size shower, composting toilet. Then Kids room area in place of master bedroom, figure out how to give 2 teenagers their own space, which will give us privacy.

Phase 1: Get it livable for RV park living with hookups
Phase 2: Add tanks
Phase 3: Add Solar for off grid self sufficiency.

What I need advice with:
What bus to get. Reliability is #1 concern; and big enough for the needs. Bonus: Mid bus door or rear door so kids can get on bus and leave us alone if we need some alone time.
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Old 11-21-2016, 07:18 AM   #2
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Always nice to have another Floridian on here!
I'm in Eustis. I lived down in Vero for a little bit a few years back.

I did ALL my looking outside FL and GA. Our buses are low-spec junk that's nowhere near as nice and well-cared-for as other states. GA seems to be even worse than FL. But here in the sunshine state buses seem to go for 3-4 times what they should. The exporters are responsible for the high prices.

Got mine in KY for $2150 and couldn't be happier with the purchase.

I love R2-D2! My buddy Donnie has an original R2 trash can.

Good luck on your bus journey. If you ever need a hand lemme know.
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Old 11-21-2016, 07:55 AM   #3
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Good to know. I noticed that prices are higher for local sales. Don't know we got crap busses. I'm leary of auctions, I'd like to check it out for mechanical issues before buying, and growing up in Upstate NY, everything rusts out real bad which isn't an issue in FL unless you are living on the beach. I wouldn't mind paying a bit more for the right bus, but I don't want to pay more for crap either.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:01 AM   #4
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I have yet to find a bus in FL I'd really want.
For two g's I got air ride, a big engine, decent transmission (643), and a 40 foot AmTran with underside storage.
IF florida spec'd buses like this they would sell for like ten grand or so. In KY, the exporters aren't biting like they are here.
I look at an auction as a MUCH more reasonable "gamble" than buying off ebay, CL, or a dealer. NO ONE is gonna maintain it better than the school. Buying at auction means you get it from the SAME source as all those resellers.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:07 AM   #5
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Welcome to the fray !
Florida here too.
Also look at Alabama school busses at auction.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleO7 View Post
Welcome to the fray !
Florida here too.
Also look at Alabama school busses at auction.
Yeah, there have been some GREAT deals on AL buses last few months on GovDeals and Public Surplus.

I grew up in FL- our schools are some of the country's most under-funded. Funny how our clapped out old buses demand the most $$$. For the average "skoolie" type, a low-spec bus is ok. But you want to travel, so I'd say go with a big bus with big HP and all the good stuff like air ride that makes driving it so much more pleasant.
A 444/545 isn't really ideal for a forty foot house that's trying to cruise the highways and mountains.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Yeah, there have been some GREAT deals on AL buses last few months on GovDeals and Public Surplus.

I grew up in FL- our schools are some of the country's most under-funded. Funny how our clapped out old buses demand the most $$$. For the average "skoolie" type, a low-spec bus is ok. But you want to travel, so I'd say go with a big bus with big HP and all the good stuff like air ride that makes driving it so much more pleasant.
A 444/545 isn't really ideal for a forty foot house that's trying to cruise the highways and mountains.
We are definitely going to want something for traveling. In the summers I plan on taking time off, paid or no, and seeing the country and visiting friends. So I want something that actually drives and is reliable. Are the GovDeals and Public surplus the best way to get them?

Any particular makes and models I should look at? After the kids are out of school I plan on traveling full time, and being off grind for most of that. My feet are getting itchy and I want some adventure.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:28 AM   #8
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welcome!! part time floridian here!! love it so far!

I have 2 Busses, one auction bus and one dealer bus. both are good busses..

I paid 1/3 the price for my auction bus as i did for the dealer bus and the auction bus has zero rust and seems to be in fantastic condition.. has more options.. I dont even have to add A/C it already has it..

I just drove my dealer bus 1100 miles this weekend from florida to ohio (through snow and 60 MPH winds).. and had no issues.. im happy with both busses but the auctions arent all bad.! as ive driven my auction bus 2200 trouble free miles since I got it


you just have to talk on the forums from people and find where they have gotten their best busses and be willing to go far to get a good one. certain school systems throughout the country are noted for having better busses for sale than others... many schools hold 1 or 2 auctions a year... the advantage is it appears you have time to do this so you can look around for the right bus and learn as well..

-Christopher
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Old 11-21-2016, 09:16 AM   #9
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Yes, I am not in a hurry, I am not looking for the cheapest bus, but the one that best fits my needs and willing to pay a little more, or take a trip to pick up if that is what it takes, which it looks like I will have to do because apparently FL and GA busses are not that great.

I'm still researching what kind of bus I should look for.
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Old 11-21-2016, 02:15 PM   #10
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Welcome! I'm just down the coast on the Treasure Coast (Martin Co). I bought my bus in September from Public Surplus: Auction #1682539 and I am super happy with it. I flew up to D.C. and took the train out to Culpeper, VA to pick it up and drove it home just before Hurricane Matthew.
I am already living on it. (A small space heater kept me warm enough last night!).

I'd look at retired school buses. They tend to have good service records. I requested the service records for mine and had direct contact with the bus depot supervisor during the auction. They were amazing when I picked it up.

If there are going to be 4 of you, I'd look for 70+ pax bus. Mine is an 11 window, 65 pax bus, and although it will sleep 5-7 people, I'm not sure I'd want 4 people on it full time! That said, I'm also working out of it (I have an internet based business).

In regard to finding mechanics, any shop that works on rigs (usually out by the highway) can work on your bus. I found one out near the FL Turnpike, here in my hometown, who works on them. I went in and chatted with them about service. They have a tow truck, if I ever needed it and was local. Also, buddy up with a mechanic from the local county bus depot

Looking forward to hearing about your bus adventure! You can see my progress at www.thismidwifetravels.com

Sandi
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