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Old 09-19-2021, 09:18 AM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 4
Converting a skoolie in abroad and sending it back

Hi,

We are a family of four located near Paris.

Our plan for the next 2 years is to :
- buy a good used skoolie in the US
- ship it to France, bring it home on a truck
- do the conversion ourself
- truck, ship it back
- using it during the holidays

It would be like a secondary residence, parked in a appropriate (covered, heated?) place, and used 2-3 months a year.

We are well aware that it is a somewhat costly option, but it matters for us to take the time to work on the conversion from home. We are not permanent residents of the US, hence can't spend months working on the bus there.

Regardless of the French-side constraints of importing the bus, what do you think will be major hurdles once back in America? Insurance comes to mind, but what about licence plate and various paperwork? Could the two-way trip cause issues law wise?

Thank you

Laurent

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Old 09-19-2021, 12:49 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 234
Year: 1990
Chassis: Crown Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71TA, 10 sp.
Rated Cap: 90 (40')
This is a really interesting idea. Other than the cost, I don't see why it wouldn't work. You are asking the right questions, and hopefully someone else here has definite answers for you. I only have guesses:

Regarding your insurance concerns, I don't think shipping the bus back and forth will make this any harder than it is for the rest of us. Follow the normal advice for getting skoolies insured - avoid rooftop decks, wood stoves, and extreme structural modifications. Other than that, insuring a bus should be similar for a non-citizen as insuring a car. I'm not sure how hard that IS, but plenty of people do it, so it's certainly possible. I would imagine that somehow having a permanent address in the US would be the biggest hurdle.

The same general idea should apply for registration and inspections. Not having a permanent US address will complicate things, but if you can sort that out I don't see why you would have any more trouble than the rest of us. Read up on the "Vermont method" HERE, which many people have used with success. This method might work especially well for you, since you could theoretically have all of your paperwork completed before the bus arrives back in North America.

I know that you are aware of the monetary cost and are willing to try it anyway. I don't want talk you out of it, but I feel like I should share a few thoughts in case you hadn't considered them. Firstly, this WILL cost a LOT of money. There was one fellow here who imported a bus to the UK (I know, they're not in Europe any longer, but it's about the same distance). This was a few years ago, and getting it shipped trans-Atlantic was 4500 (approx. $6000). Cargo rates have increased significantly since then, but let's just imagine that it's still the same. That $12k in boat rides plus the $5-$10k that decent buses cost nowadays could put you well on your way to purchasing something that's ready-to-go like a used motor home an already-finished bus conversion.

Secondly, we never like to admit it, but the truth is that many of us who start these conversions don't finish them. Life is unpredictable and things change. If you get a bus back to France and for some reason have to abandon the project, will you be able to sell it and get some of your money back?

Like I said, I don't want to talk you out of it. These are just a few thoughts that I had.
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Old 09-19-2021, 02:17 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Baja often, Oregon frequently
Posts: 176
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Our hot little hands...
Chassis: Ford CF8000 ExpeditionVehicle
Engine: Cummins 505ci mechanical
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejon7 View Post
...interesting idea...I don't want to talk you out of it...
..
Part of my purpose here is poking holes in potential decisions.
If you want 'good! idea! and a cookie!' responses to a proposal, I might not be your best choice for a support-group.
.
An example:
My sister and husband plus their extended family live in the mountains east of Sacramento, California.
They are a few miles south of the 'Paradise' fire of two years ago... the city wiped off the map by fires.
August-September 2021, they are next-door to the Grass Valley fires encircling their farm.
.
They want to find a vehicle to evacuate (at the last minute...) during a nearby catastrophe.
Accordingly, they send me photographs of likely candidates, asking my opinion about mechanical issues, and the potential for serving its purpose as a Bug-Out-Vehicle.
.
Trouble is, their vehicle choices are:
a) newer,
b) fancy, and
c) prone to
1) envious eyes coupled with
2) a reluctance to abandon it because of their emotional and financial investment.
.
My poke:
You do not need a Bug-Out-Vehicle if... you just move away from the fire-zone!
.
Sell everything, get a tough old bus, toss in some car-camping gear, and go have fun... instead of worrying about replacing the wood roof on the wood house with fire-retardant steel shingles plus sprinklers.
.
As I see it, this avoids the rush.
They no longer have to worry about becoming refugees among thousands of other refugees, simultaneously clogging the roads, competing in the search for scarce food/fuel/security.
As much fun as that sounds...
.
I suffer from know-it-allism.
Although my cherished plans are mine so they must be good because they are mine, I enjoy defending them against anybody noticing those flaws I over-look (or ignore because they are a poor fit...).
.
I grew-up on a farm, my four grandparents lived next door.
Early on, I learned to back-up my back-up plans with other back-up plans.
Approaching the old-folks to present my perfectly-good proposal for a change to the chicken-coop or the rabbit-hutches, I could expect at least five "Why?" in a row, sequentially attempting to get me to visualize other ways to accomplish my goal.
.
.
Grandparents and aunts and uncles and older cousins, not a one of them questioned cutting a sky-light over the bed.
Some things need to be intimately experienced to be truly savored.
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:04 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejon7 View Post
This is a really interesting idea. Other than the cost, I don't see why it wouldn't work. You are asking the right questions, and hopefully someone else here has definite answers for you. I only have guesses:

Regarding your insurance concerns, I don't think shipping the bus back and forth will make this any harder than it is for the rest of us. Follow the normal advice for getting skoolies insured - avoid rooftop decks, wood stoves, and extreme structural modifications. Other than that, insuring a bus should be similar for a non-citizen as insuring a car. I'm not sure how hard that IS, but plenty of people do it, so it's certainly possible. I would imagine that somehow having a permanent address in the US would be the biggest hurdle.

The same general idea should apply for registration and inspections. Not having a permanent US address will complicate things, but if you can sort that out I don't see why you would have any more trouble than the rest of us. Read up on the "Vermont method" HERE, which many people have used with success. This method might work especially well for you, since you could theoretically have all of your paperwork completed before the bus arrives back in North America.

I know that you are aware of the monetary cost and are willing to try it anyway. I don't want talk you out of it, but I feel like I should share a few thoughts in case you hadn't considered them. Firstly, this WILL cost a LOT of money. There was one fellow here who imported a bus to the UK (I know, they're not in Europe any longer, but it's about the same distance). This was a few years ago, and getting it shipped trans-Atlantic was 4500 (approx. $6000). Cargo rates have increased significantly since then, but let's just imagine that it's still the same. That $12k in boat rides plus the $5-$10k that decent buses cost nowadays could put you well on your way to purchasing something that's ready-to-go like a used motor home an already-finished bus conversion.

Secondly, we never like to admit it, but the truth is that many of us who start these conversions don't finish them. Life is unpredictable and things change. If you get a bus back to France and for some reason have to abandon the project, will you be able to sell it and get some of your money back?

Like I said, I don't want to talk you out of it. These are just a few thoughts that I had.
Thank you for your kind answer

Regarding cost, it is somewhat already priced-in our decision process. We absolutely see this enterprise as a money pit and don't expect to get anything back from the project if it would be deemed to fail or being interupted. I share your view (and experienced that a few times already) about the randomness of life, and how projects can suddenly stop for unpredictable reasons.

But IMO for a project to be successful, although you need to consider failure as an option, it should be accounted for from the start, and not to be thought of during its execution. We'd do as planned, if it fail, it fails, that was a path on the roadmap too.

That being said, do you have any advice regarding :
- the legal ways to get a permanent US address as a non-permanent resident?
- any insurance company that would be ok with wood stoves, roof decks? Wood stove in particular as some of our travelling might be done in northern states, or even Canada (I'm aware of the diesel heater option, but prefer a good fire, I'm a landscaper and lumberjack by trade).

I shall insist on "legal". I don't want to mess with foreign countries laws, even less than mine's.
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:05 PM   #5
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by LargeMargeInBaja View Post
..
Part of my purpose here is poking holes in potential decisions.
If you want 'good! idea! and a cookie!' responses to a proposal, I might not be your best choice for a support-group.
.
An example:
My sister and husband plus their extended family live in the mountains east of Sacramento, California.
They are a few miles south of the 'Paradise' fire of two years ago... the city wiped off the map by fires.
August-September 2021, they are next-door to the Grass Valley fires encircling their farm.
.
They want to find a vehicle to evacuate (at the last minute...) during a nearby catastrophe.
Accordingly, they send me photographs of likely candidates, asking my opinion about mechanical issues, and the potential for serving its purpose as a Bug-Out-Vehicle.
.
Trouble is, their vehicle choices are:
a) newer,
b) fancy, and
c) prone to
1) envious eyes coupled with
2) a reluctance to abandon it because of their emotional and financial investment.
.
My poke:
You do not need a Bug-Out-Vehicle if... you just move away from the fire-zone!
.
Sell everything, get a tough old bus, toss in some car-camping gear, and go have fun... instead of worrying about replacing the wood roof on the wood house with fire-retardant steel shingles plus sprinklers.
.
As I see it, this avoids the rush.
They no longer have to worry about becoming refugees among thousands of other refugees, simultaneously clogging the roads, competing in the search for scarce food/fuel/security.
As much fun as that sounds...
.
I suffer from know-it-allism.
Although my cherished plans are mine so they must be good because they are mine, I enjoy defending them against anybody noticing those flaws I over-look (or ignore because they are a poor fit...).
.
I grew-up on a farm, my four grandparents lived next door.
Early on, I learned to back-up my back-up plans with other back-up plans.
Approaching the old-folks to present my perfectly-good proposal for a change to the chicken-coop or the rabbit-hutches, I could expect at least five "Why?" in a row, sequentially attempting to get me to visualize other ways to accomplish my goal.
.
.
Grandparents and aunts and uncles and older cousins, not a one of them questioned cutting a sky-light over the bed.
Some things need to be intimately experienced to be truly savored.
I like your story but I'm sorry to not understand the relation with the original topic nor the subsequent post
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:50 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
Tejon7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 234
Year: 1990
Chassis: Crown Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71TA, 10 sp.
Rated Cap: 90 (40')
Quote:
Originally Posted by alarmclock View Post
Regarding cost, it is somewhat already priced-in our decision process. We absolutely see this enterprise as a money pit and don't expect to get anything back from the project if it would be deemed to fail or being interupted. I share your view (and experienced that a few times already) about the randomness of life, and how projects can suddenly stop for unpredictable reasons.

But IMO for a project to be successful, although you need to consider failure as an option, it should be accounted for from the start, and not to be thought of during its execution. We'd do as planned, if it fail, it fails, that was a path on the roadmap too.
Well said. I agree with all of this, otherwise I would not have purchased my own money pit . It is good that you have already put so much thought into this.

Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to your questions. But someone will, I'm sure!

For your insurance-specific questions, the best thing would be to talk to an insurance agent. I have not dealt with her myself, but an agent in Florida named Kelly Newsome has a reputation around here as being very helpful. She can probably give better insurance information than anyone here.

Regarding insurance companies that cover wood stoves and roof decks, you might consider starting a new thread just about that topic. Everybody seems to have them despite all the stories about people being denied coverage.
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Old 09-19-2021, 07:47 PM   #7
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Someone here mentioned that in Canada, insurance companies are OK with wood stoves in RVs.
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