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Old 10-31-2021, 09:20 AM   #1
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is it worth it???

Good morning everyone,

A little background info on me, I'm 32 single, and currently in the US Navy. I will be getting out in a little over A year. When I get out I am going to be moving to Oregon in order to go to school. With the housing market out there I don't want to buy a house or rent(it's crazy expensive out there for very little). SO the original plan was to buy an RV and live in that for the few years I go to school but being 6 foot 4, 250 lbs, I get the feeling that a run-of-the-mill RV is not going to be the greatest(mainly the shower). But its doable I think.

Over the last few days, though I have been really diving into the concept of a skoolie, I'm learning a lot from what I have so far but I'm still asking myself if it is truly worth it. Can I get the same quality between a 40K RV compared to Building a 40K skoolie? SO far I have just been jotting down notes on different types of buses/engines/transmissions, things t look for when buying one, where to buy them. Things like that.

Now I know that A few big things right off the bat that I would have to do would be to make sure the engine is in the best possible shape, maybe change the rear diff gear ratio, and raise the roof(6 ft 4 in Im too tall) only about 6-8 inches. I hate to ask such vague questions but I am just trying to get my bearings straight so I can go down the right path and set myself up for the future. Any and all advice you all have for me I am greatly appreciative for it. thank you all for your time.

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Old 10-31-2021, 11:06 AM   #2
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I think a proper $40k Skoolie would be a much better outcome than a $40k sticks and staples RV. Plus you build it the way you want it, not the way they want to take it. It typically takes 2 years to work through all the warranty issues on a new RV.
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Old 10-31-2021, 01:06 PM   #3
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Where are you going to park your RV/bus conversion while in school? The cities don't like you doing that. There are hundreds if not thousands of homeless folks from forest fires and whatnots trying to do that already, and the cities are cracking down. You will be competing with folks who don't have $40K (they got a $2500 P.O.S. RV - but better than nothing), and really need a space to park while they get their lives back together.



Do you want to keep your RV when you're done in school? Then maybe think about a bus conversion.


If you just want a pad to sleep in, cook, and do your homework, maybe you can get a really nice 5-10 year old RV from someone who's parents just passed or got committed, save yourself the hassles and time of a conversion (and there are a lot of hassles and a lot of invested time).


Good luck and Aloha!
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Old 10-31-2021, 01:16 PM   #4
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Seriously, I think if I were you I'd invest that $40K in a house down-payment, and pay the mortgage while in school, even if you gotta get an upside-down loan to make the payments. Then sell when you're done with school. Property never gets cheaper, except in Detroit. That's not going to happen in Oregon anywhere anytime soon. I bet you make money in the long run.


A bus conversion or an RV will be a money loss. Even if you want to travel after you're done with school, you can sell the house and then get a (likely nicer, more expensive) RV, or start the bus conversion then. IDK. Just some thoughts.
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Old 10-31-2021, 03:34 PM   #5
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Nouns: Person, Place, Thing

It a common misconception. If I purchace this Thing, It will provide a Place for my Person(s).

Couldn't be further from true. Large possessions narrow our options. A bus is simply a large Thing, similar to horse/sailboat/airplane. It needs a Place, too. Its not Harry Potter's magic tent. The Thing now requires its own Place, thereby complicating the situation into a human/bus housing problem. Similar to large dogs & rentals.

"Just need a Place to park my bus, horse, plane." (Lie)
....the truth adds a second vehicle, humans & visitors - humans are constantly leaking solid/liquid waste, accumulate trash, cause problems with neighbors, authorities, pets.... And who will still needs a Place to live once the landowner (or enforcement) says so.

That is actually dependant, not self sustained.

Maybe its a great idea if mom & dad have a big, private backyard. Then the Place is already set, we really are just talking container, a Thing to house a Person. But if there is no Place set in stone. Then no horse/boat/plane purchace, right? No trojan horse with a Person inside, who needs a Place, who instead bought a Thing that also needs a Place.

Estimating future expenses is not so simple. The true value of Real Property is well understood after working hard to achieve our own. Money into a bus is cash down the drain. Invest into your future, instead. A small POS home, plus time equals probable gain. Real security, too.

The truth ($$) cannot be foretold, only fantasy. Hindsight is clear & honest (recipts). A Deed is stone. Speculation, (some guy said) is not even a contract, it's dependant on variables we cannot control. Use your VA loan. (rates stick)
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Old 10-31-2021, 04:11 PM   #6
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with my likely career

so these are valid points that you both bring up, I have looked into a house out there and to me, it just seemed that they were too expensive for what they were. I planned to park it at an RV park close to the school when I get there. I have already been in contact with the owner and had a long conversation that ended up resulting in me just giving him a heads up 6 months beforehand and he would hold a spot for me.(it might be naive to think he is going to hold a spot for me)

On another note with my degree that I am in pursuit of (fisheries and wildlife management) many of my beginning jobs may be temporary and in different locations. So I thought a converted bus would be better than an RV so I wouldn't put the extra strain on my ram 1500. With the bus, I could just pull my truck Behind me. and who knows if I end up liking the lifestyle turn it into a completely full-time thing.
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Old 10-31-2021, 04:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jacob McD View Post
so these are valid points that you both bring up, I have looked into a house out there and to me, it just seemed that they were too expensive for what they were. I planned to park it at an RV park close to the school when I get there. I have already been in contact with the owner and had a long conversation that ended up resulting in me just giving him a heads up 6 months beforehand and he would hold a spot for me.(it might be naive to think he is going to hold a spot for me)

On another note with my degree that I am in pursuit of (fisheries and wildlife management) many of my beginning jobs may be temporary and in different locations. So I thought a converted bus would be better than an RV so I wouldn't put the extra strain on my ram 1500. With the bus, I could just pull my truck Behind me. and who knows if I end up liking the lifestyle turn it into a completely full-time thing.

What is the cost of the RV park? I'm only vaguely familiar with nightly rates at RV parks (they are not my cup of tea), no idea what longterm rates look like, but when I see what people pay for a night in an RV park my jaw drops, definitely factor that into your calculations, as it could end up being higher than renting a modest place. I like the vehicle-dwelling during school idea, but you've gotta streamline costs for it to make sense economically.
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Old 10-31-2021, 05:45 PM   #8
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from what I remember of the conversation(it was a few months back)300-500$ per month. I remember I was shocked and excited because with my gi bill I would be to pocket a lot of the cash to help with maintenance/upkeep. I had a long conversation with the owner and offered to be almost a groundskeeper/maintenance guy. I grew up on a farm and know how to do a little bit of everything. All in all it sounded like a great plan even with a generic RV.
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Old 11-01-2021, 04:21 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jacob McD View Post
from what I remember of the conversation(it was a few months back)300-500$ per month. I remember I was shocked and excited because with my gi bill I would be to pocket a lot of the cash to help with maintenance/upkeep. I had a long conversation with the owner and offered to be almost a groundskeeper/maintenance guy. I grew up on a farm and know how to do a little bit of everything. All in all it sounded like a great plan even with a generic RV.

That is not horrible, and much better if you can get the price knocked down a bit or completely through a work-trade type of situation.


I think 3-500 is what you might pay for a room in many parts of Oregon, or on the very low end of what you might pay for a room in Portland. So you do have a decision to make there based on your own priorities/values. Converting a bus would give you your own space, but would also come with a good amount of additional costs, so it depends somewhat on if there are other things that draw you to busdwelling, and whether you would prefer a roommate situation or an RV park situation and location.
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Old 11-01-2021, 04:43 PM   #10
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You didn't specifically mention if you intend to build out a skoolie or buy one already built. There would be a big difference between the cost of each. If you were vaguely thinking of building one be aware that it will likely take you 4 times as long as you think (OK -- I just made that number up but it WILL take longer than you think) Do you have time to do the build, go to school. STUDY FOR SCHOOL, AND work at the trailer park?

If you have a 1/2 ton pickup I'd suggest you SERIOUSLY consider buying a small travel trailer (18 or 20' max.). Something like a La Casita (or a clone 'cause the real deals are expensive). A quality unit like that will be comfortable and long lasting if you have to move around with it after college.

Being 6'6" myself, once you've hit your head the first million times you get used to it so considering a bus because you can do a roof raise isn't a good rationale.

On the other hand if you just WANT TO BUILD A SKOOLIE then go for it. I've enjoyed working on my but I'm . . . stupid.
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Old 11-01-2021, 04:45 PM   #11
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The above ^^ is very sensible advice I think.
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Old 11-01-2021, 06:00 PM   #12
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Whoops, I can't believe I didn't mention that I want to build it. So the good news about the time situation is that when I get out of the navy I was going to go home for a few months and wait for winter to be over. (I've made that drive a few times now Florida to Washington, it's not fun in the middle of winter) and to be honest I'm not in the biggest rush so I figured at the least I will have a straight five months to be able to get this done. and during these five months I may take 1 class or so to just finish my pre-req's classes up, so no problem there. Do you all think it can be done in that time? I also have my father and brother that will most likely be helping but most of the work will be on me.

Another reason that I liked the idea of the skoolie was that it was so customizable. I'm a fairly big dude and the showers on an RV are not the most ergonomic for me to say the least. at least with the skoolie I would be able to build the way I want to, and keep the extra miles off my truck by towing a trailer.
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Old 11-01-2021, 06:18 PM   #13
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". . . five months . . . ." "Do you all think it can be done in that time?"

If you already have the bus, maybe. Finding the bus can be a huge PITA and if you pick the wrong one . . . .
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Old 11-01-2021, 06:38 PM   #14
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". . . five months . . . ." "Do you all think it can be done in that time?"

If you already have the bus, maybe. Finding the bus can be a huge PITA and if you pick the wrong one . . . .
My plan would be to buy the bus before I get out of the navy(December 2022) most likely by next summer. And even before I Get out I would start to have the mechanical components checked and to get it running in tip-top shape. This way when I am actually physically able to get started on it, all that's left is the conversion part.
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Old 11-07-2021, 10:05 PM   #15
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As a 6’2”” guy I’d suggest you look into the tiny house as an option. Californiatinyhoudedotcom has a really great 10’ wide home. So many good ideas in the tiny home options. If you get a Skoolie make sure you get a tall roof. Some buses like the shuttle busses have a 7’ plus roof.
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Old 11-08-2021, 12:30 AM   #16
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A contrarian view:
.
Instead of acquiring a platform requiring substantial modifications just so you can walk inside...
.
...how about something with a tall ceiling as-is?
.
One of our conversions is a 40' semi-trailer.
It came with about ten-foot of headroom, so we lowered the roof by eighteen inches.
We cut eighteen inches out of the walls, then I fabricated a steel rear wall with steel door.
Our swing-out rear porch tucks-in for travel.
.
Cut in some small high windows, set in some foam-board insulation, over-n-done.
.
We are into it for something less than your '40k' budget.
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Old 11-08-2021, 09:24 AM   #17
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A contrarian view:
.
Instead of acquiring a platform requiring substantial modifications just so you can walk inside...
.
...how about something with a tall ceiling as-is?
.
One of our conversions is a 40' semi-trailer.
It came with about ten-foot of headroom, so we lowered the roof by eighteen inches.
We cut eighteen inches out of the walls, then I fabricated a steel rear wall with steel door.
Our swing-out rear porch tucks-in for travel.
.
Cut in some small high windows, set in some foam-board insulation, over-n-done.
.
We are into it for something less than your '40k' budget.
I considered this at one point but didn't have anything to pull it. Actually what got me to consider this route was seeing an ad for an old 50s vintage tractor with trailer. It would have been sweet but a lot of work to restore, modernize and buildout.

I think the best bang for the buck might well be a box truck on a medium duty chassis. I would have gone this route if I could have snagged one of the ones I saw advertised in CA. The ones I saw here in Rust Jersey always looked kinda nasty.
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Old 11-11-2021, 08:18 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by jacob McD View Post
My plan would be to buy the bus before I get out of the navy(December 2022) most likely by next summer. And even before I Get out I would start to have the mechanical components checked and to get it running in tip-top shape. This way when I am actually physically able to get started on it, all that's left is the conversion part.
One thing to consider if going this route is license and insurance. It will be considered a commercisl vehicle and if it has air brakes, will require an air brake endorsement to drive. Before you can register / insure it as a motorome, it will have to be converted. Once revistered as a motorhome, you will not need an airbrake endorsement.

Not sure what would be required in Florida to register as a motorhome, but usually cooking, sleeping, electrical, and running water/ bathroom. You can usually get away with a real "quick and dirty" conversion (a couple of futons, porta potty and a basic kitchen) just to get it registered, then do it right later. Leaving a bus "school bus yellow" is also illegal in some states (including mine), but I never had any problem with that since I skinned over some of the windows and did some painting on it to change it's appearance.
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Old 12-24-2021, 06:22 PM   #19
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We would never have considered building a skoolie if we couldn't have had MUCH better quality than a standard RV for the same amount of money. Of course, quality depends more on what you know and/or what you're willing to learn/outsource. And the cost doesn't include labor, which if it did, would turn the comparison on it's ear.


Quality also depends on the time you've got, and IMO a <6-month timespan to do something like this for the first time, including a roof raise - even if you have non-skoolie-related construction experience - just isn't realistic. If you have a back-up plan, and can afford to go forward with it while you chug away on your skoolie in your free time, then maybe go for it. But if not making the deadline is going to put your back up against a wall, I think it's a really bad idea.


FYI, when we started I figured we'd be done in under 6 months. I'm now hoping we're done in under 3 years
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Old 08-01-2022, 12:52 PM   #20
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Yes it can be done in 5 months. Got mine done in 2-1/2 months while working full time , except during 2w off. The key is design and planning ahead, not doing things in sequence, that way you keep going at it without waiting for parts/material to arrive.
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