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Old 01-17-2019, 11:41 AM   #1
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New Member - Short Timeline and a Small Wallet

Long time lurker here, with a possible opportunity to get started earlier than we had planned. My job is pulling me away from my wife for about 6 months, and instead of getting holed up in a hotel, I might have the opportunity to pocket that money if I provide my own housing.

Enter the skoolie: with a baby on the way, we can't afford to take away from our savings to fund it, but that housing allowance would be about $10k over the 6 month period.


It's a great experiment, but do you think it's possible to;

a. live in the bus while converting it (having done no prep work/seat removal, insulation etc.)? I'll have access to a gym shower on base, so I don't need to immediately worry about plumbing, but I would potentially be working 14 hour days, 6 days a week. There may or may not be overseas trips I would need to take as well.

b. do the bus purchase, repairs, registering, and BASIC necessities for under $10k? Looking at public auctions I feel like I could get a good bus for under $3k, to give me plenty of room for everything else.


To give a little more story, we will obviously continue the conversion after the 6 months, but this would be my home in SC, so at a minimum I would want A/C, insulation (strip inside walls, floor, and ceiling), and electricity (maybe not rewire the entire thing, but definitely clean shop) for lighting and school-work. Off-shore power would be provided by the RV lot. There will be a roof raise in there somewhere (I'm 6'3"; it's gotta happen), but I could maybe get by for 6 months, just have to cut through the insulation when I finally do it.

I understand there are a lot of unknowns here, but before I get my hopes up, I wanted to know if y'all think this is even feasible, doing work for 1-2 hours a day on my working days, and go hard core on my day off. Trying not to write a whole narrative here, but let me know if you want any more details.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:02 PM   #2
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I think your budget is possible, given a decent purchase price and not getting too fancy with the details inside. If you are setting up the electrical for shore power, that saves a lot of time and $$ too. One tip for the toilet - we are looking at a Laveo dry flush which requires no plumbing. Something to look at anyway.

Gonna be a busy few months!
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:13 PM   #3
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Looking at the whole scenario, I'm concerned you're setting yourself up for failure. Not only that, but you're also committing yourself to a situation you may not be able to easily back out of if things go "pear-shaped". You need to do some "risk management".



You need to compare and contrast all of your possible living situations in your upcoming scenario. If you are living on-base, off-base in an apartment (renting), off-base in an unconverted skoolie, etc. If you are in the skoolie, can you lock up your tools or bus while you are out-of-country (or even during the day while on-base)? If not, how much loss due to theft are you willing to handle? If your bus is gone when you get back, do you have alternate living arrangements? Can you even handle a crisis like that after 6 back-to-back 14 hour days and you're dead tired. You know, stuff like that.



I think the military calls this type of "risk management" as "contingencies". The amount of planning you need to do is in direct proportion to the amount of risk you'll be taking on, and when it comes to "where you lay your head", that's quite a bit of risk....


Also, timing - can you do even a little bit of work on the bus before you have to live in it? Do you really think you can find the "right" bus in the timeframe you'll need it in? Usually people around here are looking for quite a while before they find a bus that meets their needs. You could hope to find a partially completed bus, but I wouldn't bet on it.


I don't know what your risk tolerance is, and I certainly don't want to rain on your parade, but you've got quite a bit of planning to do to pull this off....
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:53 PM   #4
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No, I appreciate your concern; I had to answer all of those questions with my wife. Fortunately I won't be the only one going; I know a handful of other folks that are coming with me, and one has offered to help in his time off. I am not depending on his help because I know the only thing worse than finding time in a busy day to work on a bus is finding coinciding time in two people's days to do it.

He did offer to let me store some things in his hotel room whie/if I'm gone, so there wouldn't be a large risk; the RV lot is on a military base as well, so risk of theft is pretty minimal.

This is all really expectation management; I was really worried about being able to make a bus liveable while living in it, or having the energy to do so. I can handle a few weeks of a sleeping bag in a hot bus; I've done months of it before with longer days in a hot crowded tent, but it sounds like a recipe to quickly lose motivation when I inevitably hit a snag (or a rivet ) and I have to be the motivator here when I bring it back home for the wife. If I can't stand to look at my yellow prison, there's no way she's going to pick up the slack.

But thinking that I could overcome all that, then I would start seriously looking for a bus. If I don't find one in time, I'm not going to lower my standards just to get started. But I'm not going to start looking if it's not even a reasonable expectation.
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:57 PM   #5
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Well, if there are other people that you will be with, that reduces the risk. You having camping experience (and generally are OK with it) will lower the risk further.

However, making a bus livable while living in it isn't easy. Check out "JDOnTheGo"'s "Missy Conversion" for more on doing just that. His analysis has been something to the tune of "its possible, but nowhere near as easy as living somewhere else during conversion." (JD, please correct me if I'm wrong!)

Also, think about the tools you are going to need ... you're going to store all of that in your friend's hotel room? I can see you possibly handling stuff like an angle grinder, hammer drill, batteries, but what about a table saw? You're going to have a time packing all of those tools in and out of his room (and what happens if he's out at the time you are wanting to move the tools?) That's stuff you need to set up with him well before-hand. Also, the raw materials - will the base allow your RV spot to look like a construction zone? Will the neighbors handle all of the noise? Maybe you need a pickup truck with a lockable camper shell?

You should get in contact with the Good News Bus folks and ask them about all of the tools and raw materials they used in their conversion. They were living in one bus while converting their new one on property that wasn't theirs, so their situation is probably the closest to what you're expecting - find out how they handled locking up their tools at night and all that. I'm sure they will have all kinds of information and risk mitigation techniques that I can't even conceive of right now. If they did it, I bet you could, too.
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Old 01-19-2019, 06:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkyDee View Post
Check out "JDOnTheGo"'s "Missy Conversion" for more on doing just that. His analysis has been something to the tune of "its possible, but nowhere near as easy as living somewhere else during conversion." (JD, please correct me if I'm wrong!)
Exactly right!!

It's hard to answer this type of question because everyone is different. I know people that would not consider living out of 5 gallon jug of water and a bucket. Others would consider this luxury living. As already noted, the energy you have remaining after working long hours is a big issue. In general, the whole thing sounds like a recipe for failure to me. Given what has been said, I would be much more inclined to get an old RV/motorhome, use it for the six months, and then maybe get lucky enough to sell it for what you paid (assuming you buy cheap/smart).

I would also suggest you be very clear with your intended parking location. Do they allow a bus, do they allow something that is not fully converted, do they allow work to be done, will they allow you to stay a full six months, etc.
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Old 01-22-2019, 08:44 AM   #7
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Marky and JD,

Thank you for your help. After mulling it over some more this weekend, we would be a lot more comfortable with me just getting an older trailer to live in while I'm gone. I think I would have really welcomed the challenge had I still been a bit younger and had a less demanding job, but this way my wife and I will still be able to do the work together when I get home.

JD, I'm loving your conversion; unfortunately, I think my parameters would've been even more restrictive since I wouldn't be able to do *anything* to the bus prior to setting up camp.

Overall, I think I'm looking for any excuse or situation that would let me start on my skoolie life, even if they aren't ideal. Patience has never been my strong suit.
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