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Old 05-12-2020, 08:52 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 1
Post Is this real life?

Hey guys,

Hoping you guys could help me with a few things. My wife & I are in our late 30's early 40's and we want to make a change in our life. For the better. We have three kids adults now 20, 18, 17. The wife and I were thinking of joining the tiny living community. At first we thought about tiny houses but we would love to travel. So we are looking into the Skoolie lifestyle. Although we've collected things over the years our lives are very minimal. Now we have questions and here's where you all can help.

1. Are we too late? Are we too old to join this, what seems to be, young lifestyle of skoolies?

2. What are the steps? And how do I take that first jump?

3. We arent builders or can we do it?

4. What things will I definitely need?

5. What are the things I should know before starting?

Thank you for all your help and responses. We truly appreciate them and you.

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Old 05-12-2020, 09:06 AM   #2
Bus Geek
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 2,831
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
It’s all a dream.

You’re never too old.

You are either going to learn how to be carpenter, electrician, plumber, hire someone else, or give up.

You’ll need a good attitude, some tools, and a place to do it.

You should know that things rarely work out the way you originally envisioned, but if you take your time and ask lots of questions, the way will be revealed.
Danjo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2020, 09:12 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Vermont
Posts: 152
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Turtle Top
Chassis: E-Super Duty
Engine: Ford 7.3 Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 13-passenger
none of the things above will prevent you from doing skoolie stuff. in my experience most of the guys on here are retired, or nearly there. I think the young ones get more attention because they're all over youtube, but the "real" full-time RV community isn't represented there nearly as much.

In terms of things you'll definitely need: are you asking about what components you need for a nice skoolie, or are you talking about what tools you'll need to build it?

As far as you and your wife not really knowing what you're getting into - that's mostly a matter of personal taste. A lot of skoolies were built by college grads who had maybe put together a cabinet once before. There are things you can really screw up, but if you're the type of people who are willing to dive in, it's very likely you can build something that you'll be proud of.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:17 AM   #4
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,401
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72

I am a 55 year old computer geek. I have learned a ton in the process of converting my buses.

There is one thing that is absolutely required.... A willingness to learn

It is unlikely that you will run into anything that one of us has not already dealt with. Just ask.

Read, read, read the various build threads and see what others have done. Read the endless list of "what bus should I buy? " threads and learn about what to look for in a bus for your project.

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:21 AM   #5
Bus Nut
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 421
Originally Posted by KingOfItAll View Post

1. Are we too late? Are we too old to join this, what seems to be, young lifestyle of skoolies?

2. What are the steps? And how do I take that first jump?

3. We arent builders or can we do it?

4. What things will I definitely need?

5. What are the things I should know before starting?

Thank you for all your help and responses. We truly appreciate them and you.

1. No. There are folks on here who are in their 70's doing conversions, which amazes me. In fact, I think you're in the ideal age to do it because a) with your children grown, you just lost a significant responsibility and should soon have much more free time to focus on you, and b) you probably have accumulated enough wealth to do a solid conversion, whether that's buying the right kind of gear and tools (think a nice shiplap ceiling) or you could hire someone to do it even better (like a carpenter), and c) hopefully you have the space to do the conversion, which seems to be the biggest limfac for most people.

2. First you need to make a list of hard and soft requirements, and then use that to find a school bus that meets them. For example, is it necessary to have 6' of headroom? Do you absolutely need undercarriage storage? Minimum square footage (which translates to length)? Maintenance history? Price? Don't rush buying a bus, they're always more on the market (and I expect in the next few months there will be a HUGE supply of busses trying to get sold). For a more detailed step by step process, may I humbly suggest visiting my build blog in my signature, because I wrote it with people like you in mind. As for how to take the first jump, well that would be buying the bus, and that's definitely the most exciting part. After buying it you'll be full of enthusiasm to start working on it--use that enthusiasm to do the demolition process, because that's the hardest part and you'll run out of motivation real fast!

3. You can absolutely do it with no experience, so long as you get the right tools. You can learn on the way, which is essentially what I did. I made quite a few mistakes that cost me quite a bit of money here and there, so hopefully you can learn from people like me and not make the same mistakes. I'd also recommend taking a welding class, it's a LOT easier than you think, and if you're not doing it professionally or for cosmetics, it's TOTALLY doable and I wish I would've utilized that much more in my build.

4. Space to put the bus while you convert it! That's the big one. Also getting the right tools for the job too, there's a budget for everything. You can get by using a battery powered circular saw, but it just won't be as pretty as a proper table saw. That kind of thing.

5. Spend some time reading this forum, there's a lot of good advice out there. Find a build thread with something that you like and start at page 1, there's a lot of good info buried in there.

Good luck and keep posting here, folks are super friendly and helpful!
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:26 AM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 52
Year: 1991
Chassis: Wayne Lifeguard
Engine: 7.3L IDI
Rated Cap: 23,600 lb
You're a fine age for new adventures! The technical knowledge can be acquired, so don't let that discourage you. Go ahead and start building stuff now and you'll be a builder before you know it.

Before you make any permanent decisions, such as selling your house, you might consider living in an RV for a few weeks or a month to see if it's really your thing. I'm far too much of a packrat and builder to live entirely out of a skoolie so mine is used for vacations, camping, and short adventures.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:38 AM   #7
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Grayson County, VA
Posts: 1,428
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65
Oh yeah, you can totally do it. We're in our early 50's, as are many of the full time nomads we've met, so don't let that be the thing that stops you. As far as building the bus out, it's more about determination and learning than it is about experience. Cabinetry and furnishings can be bought at Ikea or some other big box store. Ditto for the building materials. The electrical, propane and water systems are pretty straightforward and there are many blogs and other resources out there that can serve as an example of what's necessary. Many people here can answer any questions you've got

Expect it to take a little longer than you're thinking. Building out our bus was one of the more fun and rewarding experiences of our lives. Bus life might be a bit of a psychological adjustment, especially coupled with becoming empty-nesters, but you won't know unless you try.

Spend some time looking at the build threads here and other buslife/vandwelling blogs out there. Lots of people give up after the demolition stage...just before it gets fun!
Our Build:
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:44 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: SW USA
Posts: 2,064
Year: 2003
Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: CE300
Engine: International T444e
Rated Cap: 23
IMO you're in for a system shock if you're not as excited about the process of building a skoolie as you are using it. That assumes it will be you & your family doing the bulk of the build. As others have already well covered, there are so many hats you'll find yourself needing to wear. For some, that's a benefit. Just imagine the sense of accomplishment you'll get from rolling down the road in something you not only created yourself, but taught yourself how to create!!! (that's what I tell myself every day lol). But others more focused on the sizzle instead of the steak (& what it takes to cook it), realize they're spending all their time working instead of traveling, and find it to not be what they want.
Go away. 'Baitin.

Our Build: Mr. Beefy
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