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Old 08-20-2017, 07:32 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 156
Off Grid living in a Skoolie.

As I sit here in my School Bus and look out the windows at the wonderful view I have been thinking about the journey that got us to the point where we are living off grid on 15 acres in Selah Wa.
For many years I have grown sick and tired of the Seattle Metro are, even though we have been living in Graham, about an hour south of Seattle. The traffic has been getting much worse in the last few years and the cost to live here just keeps going up at an alarming rate. I am done. Even the constant rain played into my desire to get out of the area.
I had to go to Trail BC Canada for a job (I travel every week to new locations) and I took my wife with me as she was recovering from an illness.
As we drove through Yakima I talked to my wife about how I would love to move there. We had talked about other locations for over a year, but nothing was right. I explained to her about all the local fruit and vegetables that are grown in the Yakima Valley and that sealed the deal. We retuned over the next months looking for houses and land. We settled on a beautiful 15 acres that overlooks the Wenas Valley. Surrounded by foot hills to the north and west, the valley is south and east. The view is one of those million dollar views. With only $10K down the owner financed the remaining $35K. Of the $35K, half of it is being paid by my older daughter that will be living in a bus on half of the land with us.
The bus I got just less than a year ago and have been working on it with the plan for it to be an RV. I have a page with most of the progress on it that I will link on here. We have added a full sized fridge, upgraded the sink to a large 9in deep residential sink and I modified our futon to fit in the front so I can lift it up and store stuff under it.
Our bus is a 1985 International Blue Bird with a DT466 and a MT643. My Daughters bus is a 1991 GMC Ward with a 366 Gas and a AT4??.
Some of the chaos from the first night:
We will be putting our home in Graham up for sale in the next few weeks. We should clear about $110K after the taxes and Realtor fees and balance. This will help to get a new home on the land as well as a well and septic.
So, right now we have our bus sitting on the land and there is nothing but a driveway and a flat spot to park our 2 buses.
Being totally off the grid has had its challenges. Power is just one that we have had to over come. For that we bought a Champion 3400 watt Dual Fuel inverter generator. We have been running it off propane because it is way cheaper than Gas. We only need this to run the Air Conditioning during the heat of the day.
For the evenings and when its not as hot, we have a 200 watt solar system from Renogy and 4 Walmart 29DC batteries. I also have the 2 8D starting batteries that are separate, but I can plug into them if needed as a back up. I do need to add 2 more panels to up it to 400 Watts.
Water is also a huge deal. Drinking water is not hard to get, we have a water cooler (unplugged) with 5 gallon jugs that we fill up at the local store for only $0.45 a gallon and that lasts several days. But we had no source for other water.
I found a place that was selling 275 gal totes and 30 gallon barrels for next to nothing. So, I got 4 30 gallon and one 275 gallon with the idea that I could haul the small ones in my truck to someplace to get them filled. However I needed to rinse out the old jugs and I was directed to an RV dump station. Well as luck would have it, about a block away was a bulk water filling station for tankers. The water was only $0.25 for 100 gallons! So, I filled the 275 gal tote up to 200 gallons for only $.050! So, now I have the 30 gal barrels next to the bus and I fill them from the 275 tote. As the holding tank on the bus gets low, we fill it with a transfer pump from the barrels and I have a pump on the bus to give us running water.
Septic has not been an issue as we are using a compost toilet. As for the grey water, I dug a hole and filled it with gravel to filter it before it goes into the ground.
It has been a crazy adventure getting here and I know that we have a ways to go, but for now we are enjoying the land and our time in the bus off the grid.
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Old 08-20-2017, 08:22 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: SE Florida
Posts: 1,098
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 65 pax
What a beautiful piece of land! Sounds like a wonderful place to be moving to!
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Old 08-20-2017, 08:52 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
milkmania's Avatar
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,372
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
How are you handling your online usage?
Cell phone data package?
I once complained I had no shoes....
Until I met a man with no feet
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Old 08-22-2017, 01:55 PM   #4
Bus Nut
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: iowa
Posts: 346
Year: 1998
Coachwork: bluebird
Chassis: chevy
Engine: 3116 catapillar
Rated Cap: formerly 71 now 2 or 4
what about renting to us passing thru? make a skoolie park as ill be passing thru in a couple of years Alaska bound
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Old 08-22-2017, 03:22 PM   #5
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Brazoria County, Texas
Posts: 505
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 32 Passenger
I'm hoping to make that trip within a year. My brother lives in Yakima. I want to go ride the Mt. Rainier Railroad.
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:32 PM   #6
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Midwest
Posts: 2,573
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 5.9L Cummins
Rated Cap: '00
Thanks for sharing. Beautiful area. Cool setup, to be sure.

Do you intend to insulate?
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