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Old 04-07-2016, 11:35 PM   #1
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Smile La Vie Boheme

Hello new friends!

I'm never sure how to begin these things, so I'll just tell you a bit about myself. Ever since I was a child, I've told people that I hope to someday be called eccentric instead of just weird. I've always been a dreamer. I briefly studied engineering and later went to art school. For the record, art school was harder. I am lucky enough to make video games for a living. I create elaborate cosplay to wear to conventions. I've been known to strap on armor and fight with swords (albeit rattan swords), or give belly dancing a try, or hand dye linen with black beans. I've crawled through a cave, repelled off a cliff, and nearly drowned in a river. I love to sing. My alignment is neutral good, bow ties are cool, and not all that glitters is gold. I've got a bad feeling about this, and I solemnly swear I'm up to no good - in fact I aim to misbehave.

I'm happily married to my best friend. We have two awesome daughters - one is 17, and one just turned 7. Not only do I love them dearly, but I genuinely like my family. They are the best! We play together, laugh together, and life is always an adventure.

Over the years, we've amassed a lot of stuff, plenty of debt, and a little bit of equity in a big, lovely house that sits next to a lake. As my older daughter nears graduation (2017 is just a year away), I find myself wishing I could leave it all behind and take my family on a grand journey before she flies the nest for good. With that in mind, my husband and I are considering life on the road for a year, two, maybe 5? The seed of the idea has been growing for the past year or so, fed by the natural wanderlust that we both seem to have and the fact that our extended family is scattered across the entire country.

We love the charming look of tiny houses, but they seem impractical for full time travel. We aren't quite so enamored with plastic-y RVs or travel trailers, although we assumed that's the route we'd have to take. Our tentative plan was to find an old 5th wheel on Craigslist, put in a bunch of elbow grease and love, and try to turn it into something resembling a home. Then we met a lovely family living in a converted school bus at the Georgia Tiny House Festival earlier this year, and I started to wonder what sort of potential an old bus might have. After some preliminary research and a very rough budget of all three options (tiny house, 5th wheel, or bus), as well as a list of the pros and cons of each, the bus began to emerge as the better choice for our specific goals.

I confess I'm a little intimidated. I believe I can do just about anything I set my mind to, but most of my fabrication experience is with cloth, foam, clay, wire, little bits of wood, paint, and pixels. My husband has even less than that - so it's likely I will be on here, poring over advice, tutorials, and videos for the next several months (years?). It should be... interesting.

Of course, before we get too deep into all of that, I need to declutter the house and get it on the market. I foresee a truly epic yard sale in our future! Does anyone want to share their sage advice on letting go of earthly possessions?
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Old 04-07-2016, 11:54 PM   #2
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You guys were BORN for the Skoolie life! Welcome to the Madness! --- Go for it...you ain't getting any younger and besides...learning new skills will help ward off Alzheimers. With very few exceptions, most of the folks here started out with little or no applicable talent for building a rolling home. Just read as much as you can and don't be shy about asking questions. The community here is pretty giving of their hard earned experience. Once again...Welcome.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:32 AM   #3
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Thanks for the warm welcome! There is certainly a wealth of information to be explored, and I'm so grateful for the many folks who have posted details, info about products and tools used, pictures and videos of process, and ideas that inspire. I've spent a while just soaking it in, and it definitely helped when I was putting together the rough budget and pros and cons.

For those curious, I'm estimating just over $20,000 for the bus and conversion if we do the work ourselves and don't go crazy with the build.

The pros are:
- Study steel frame to work with
- Buses are already designed for travel
- Plenty of options for customization
- Flat towing our existing small car is an option
- Can be better insulated/better quality materials than an RV
- Less up front cost, can pay as we work on it

And the cons:
- Lots of work before we're ready for the road
- Car would have to be towed behind if we don't want to drive the bus everywhere
- Some campsites don't like buses (We don't know all the ins and outs of finding places to stay)
- Need a place to work on it
- We'd prefer lofts, but a roof raise is intimidating!
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Old 04-08-2016, 06:56 AM   #4
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Roof raise isn't so bad. Folks make it out to be like the boogey man.
Have you considered renting your house out instead of selling? That's what I'm going to do.

I stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam called "La Boheme". Nice place.

I have La Boheme with Pavarotti on DVD. Its one of my favorites!
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Old 04-08-2016, 07:27 AM   #5
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La Boheme is one of my favorite operas.. AND.. though you may not believe me.. one of my prior Bus' Few adventures.. (I regret it spent most of its like in the garage).. was that I took a group of friends to see La Boheme in my Bus... I remember it well.. all the windows down(on a wintry night) and Musetta's Aria Blasting from the stereo as I dropped the group off Next to the row of Rolls and Benz and Limos.... oh yes the looks we got and the memories that were made...

alas i say go for it!!! as being someone who has and likes posessions I can say that nearly anything is replaceable except for the few things which may hold sentimental value for a good reason such as a family heirloom...

I myself am a bit eclectic and eccentric myself.. I just acquired another bus.. to do something different with... I very well may drive my bus around as my every-day vehicle just because.. well I have a fascination with busses... my last bus was destroyed in a garage fire... and while i was saddened the day I learned about the fire.. the thingi realized was this..

it was just a bus.. Nothing will ever erase from my mind the smiles from my friends, nor the priceless looks on the rich people's face when I dropped the opera group off. (yes I even turned on the flashy lights...).. the bus was well just a posession.. gone in an instant.. the memory? forever...

I have owned and resotred and built classic cars, hotrods, etc.. and each one of those cars is in a new owners hands.. BUT the fond memories of them still are in my mind just like the day they happened..

everything you have in your attic, basement, garage, closet is just a thing.. that has a function... or more likely HAS A MEMORY and thats why you keep it.. somehow thinking you can keep that memory by stuffing that object away.. well you will always have the memory.. and guess what you cant repeat it.. no matter how many times you try.. that thing will not repeat the memory.. so if it has no purpose in your new tiny home.. sell it, give it, donate it.. after all if you have any attachment to the item realize it will bring someone else a memory as you pass it on..

a good first step though is budgeting for a storage unit.. you put everything in there that you have trouble letting go of...

a storage unit is a wonderful thing because it has a bill associated with it.. each month you will get that bill.. and you can post that bill on the dashboard of your new bus... and each month you can realize you have touched NOTHING in that storage unit for XX number of months... pretty soon you get rid of half of that stuff and get a smaller storage unit that has only the "REAL IMPORTANT" stuff in it.. and a Smaller bill.. and eventually you reach a point where that stuff really is important and worth keeping or its not and you unload it all and get rid of the storage unit (and the bill)..

I wish you well and hope to see your project take off and go! you can do this!.. oh and a school bus is just plain FUn as heck to drive!

-Christopher
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:02 AM   #6
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as a chaotic evil I welcome you...
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:54 PM   #7
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Clearly I have found some kindred spirits!

EastCoastCB, we would rather sell for a number of reasons. (Story incoming)

We bought this house a few years ago to get our kids into some of the best schools in the state. Prior to that, we had another large house sitting on a few acres out in the country. The "old house" sat empty for over a year, and was eventually broken into and damaged. (People ripped the wiring out of the walls for the copper!) We hired some friends to help repair the house, and they ended up falling in love with it. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a loan to buy it outright (plumbers, electricians, and the like got hit pretty hard by the real estate bubble burst and subsequent recession, and these particular friends had to declare bankruptcy in 2009.) We ended up drawing up a lease to own agreement with them, and apply their monthly payments to our mortgage. We lost over $100k on that house, but at least we know it's in the hands of people who love it and will take care of it. Still, as it sits now, we have two mortgages, we are house poor because great school districts inflate property values considerably, and the debt is psychologically DRAINING, if you know what I mean. We don't want the responsibility of maintaining insurance, mortgages, and property taxes on two huge houses that we don't live in, and we are hesitant to consider it an investment property after the huge loss we took on the previous house. Life would be so much simpler if we could sell this place and pay off all of our debts.

TLDR; We got burned during the recession and want to be mortgage free.
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Old 04-08-2016, 01:11 PM   #8
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I'm pretty sure all of us got burned in the recession in one way or another.

I think you've got a nice plan. Speaking as a real estate appraiser, I've also got some issues with letting go of real property. The tons of junk we haul around is another story.
I'm lucky enough to be living in my bus while it's parked in my driveway, which allows me to put just the things I need and actively use in the bus. Then, as has been said, you start understanding that you don't need all the stuff that's in the house. The memories are the issue with all the tons of stuff. It's nice to have reminders of those memories, but think of your stuff like a body. There's a lot of junk in the trunk. Give a second hand store a purpose. You know the rule. If you haven't used it in the past year, get rid of it.
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Old 04-08-2016, 01:37 PM   #9
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Christopher, I SO wish I could have been there to see you pull up to the theater. That is fantastic, and so appropriate considering it's an opera about poor artists, poets, and dreamers!

You're right, of course - stuff is just stuff. I've been trying to keep that in mind as the pile for our yard sale grows ever larger. One of my friends helpfully provided me with some great tips: 10 Life-Changing Tips to Make Your Home So Much Cleaner - Little Kid Tips & Advice | mom.me
(Click the link, you won't regret it!) #5 has some real appeal.
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Old 04-08-2016, 02:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mysty View Post
Clearly I have found some kindred spirits!

EastCoastCB, we would rather sell for a number of reasons. (Story incoming)

We bought this house a few years ago to get our kids into some of the best schools in the state. Prior to that, we had another large house sitting on a few acres out in the country. The "old house" sat empty for over a year, and was eventually broken into and damaged. (People ripped the wiring out of the walls for the copper!) We hired some friends to help repair the house, and they ended up falling in love with it. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a loan to buy it outright (plumbers, electricians, and the like got hit pretty hard by the real estate bubble burst and subsequent recession, and these particular friends had to declare bankruptcy in 2009.) We ended up drawing up a lease to own agreement with them, and apply their monthly payments to our mortgage. We lost over $100k on that house, but at least we know it's in the hands of people who love it and will take care of it. Still, as it sits now, we have two mortgages, we are house poor because great school districts inflate property values considerably, and the debt is psychologically DRAINING, if you know what I mean. We don't want the responsibility of maintaining insurance, mortgages, and property taxes on two huge houses that we don't live in, and we are hesitant to consider it an investment property after the huge loss we took on the previous house. Life would be so much simpler if we could sell this place and pay off all of our debts.

TLDR; We got burned during the recession and want to be mortgage free.
That makes sense then. I own my place and like having it just want to live in the bus a year or two and see how it goes before selling.
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Old 04-08-2016, 03:55 PM   #11
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Clearly I have found some kindred spirits!

EastCoastCB, we would rather sell for a number of reasons. (Story incoming)

We bought this house a few years ago to get our kids into some of the best schools in the state. Prior to that, we had another large house sitting on a few acres out in the country. The "old house" sat empty for over a year, and was eventually broken into and damaged. (People ripped the wiring out of the walls for the copper!) We hired some friends to help repair the house, and they ended up falling in love with it. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a loan to buy it outright (plumbers, electricians, and the like got hit pretty hard by the real estate bubble burst and subsequent recession, and these particular friends had to declare bankruptcy in 2009.) We ended up drawing up a lease to own agreement with them, and apply their monthly payments to our mortgage. We lost over $100k on that house, but at least we know it's in the hands of people who love it and will take care of it. Still, as it sits now, we have two mortgages, we are house poor because great school districts inflate property values considerably, and the debt is psychologically DRAINING, if you know what I mean. We don't want the responsibility of maintaining insurance, mortgages, and property taxes on two huge houses that we don't live in, and we are hesitant to consider it an investment property after the huge loss we took on the previous house. Life would be so much simpler if we could sell this place and pay off all of our debts.

TLDR; We got burned during the recession and want to be mortgage free.
Glad your significant other is on the same page. I've been trying to convince my wife to be a travel nurse and full time rv for awhile and "road school" our daughter to no avail. She's doesn't have the gypsy soul I do. We're in the same predicament as you regarding the house though. Bought into the good school district. As parents though we feel it's our responsibility to give our daughter the best tools and environment to grow up in, especially in this morally screwed up day and age!
We don't plan on being in the house for the rest of our lives, but it is financially and mentally draining paying all the bills every month (mortgage, flood insurance, utilities, etc, etc, etc). The industry has touted home ownership as "The American Dream" for almost 100yrs now. People are finally opening their eyes and realizing it's not a dream but in many cases a nightmare that holds you down. Once she graduates and is on her own all bets are off!
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Old 04-08-2016, 04:18 PM   #12
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Honestly, I think he's a little frightened to come between me and a project I've set my heart on. He's seen me in "crazy project mode" before and I sort of turn into this...


o_O

In all fairness, he's an adventurous guy with big dreams and a desire to travel, so I'm super lucky. We agreed to rent an RV for a week or two to make sure we're both as cool with tiny spaces as we hope we are. Wouldn't it be awkward if I'm the one who turned claustrophobic? So we'll see how that goes... Either way, we are both completely solid on the idea of downsizing significantly. Maintaining a 4000+ sq. ft. house takes up too much time and energy, and there's so much out there we could be seeing and doing instead.

We took one of those Facebook quizzes about how well you know your spouse yesterday, and one of the questions was, "If they were to collect anything, what would it be?" He said I would collect memories. I think he gets me. <3
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Old 04-08-2016, 04:34 PM   #13
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OMG someone similar to me! I do a lot of costuming as well and have a lot of experience with all the random materials that go along with it. Lots of DIY experience and have learned a lot of mechanical and body work over the year. I would say I am finally hitting that reality of what I can do, what I can learn and what I should hire out. (Normally comes to cost of tools and space, or the fact I am small female and sometimes just finding a smart solution is not possible and it takes strength) I only buys tools now I know I will use a lot. But all the special stuff if I cant borrow it I hire the job out now. When I do hire out work, I normally look for someone that does not mind me hanging around and asking questions. With all this in mind I still find i can tackle anything I put my mind to (just have to be more flexible) I just do more and more research now before a project then I use to.

I find I am researching the bus (tiny home) in a way to live more free and reduce debt. Its been in the back of my mind for about 3 years. Its been more of a focus research now due to my kids ages too and wanting more experiences with them, not stuff.

I have a history of wanderlust, living out of my car, going over seas, backpacking. I settled down after I married to live a traditional life for my children but feel now is the time to balance more of what I am vs what is expected of me.

My question to you is how to do you plan to fit all the materials and tools used in cosplay with a family in a bus! I have racked my head over this for awhile now and wonder your thoughts. I tend to pack rat supplies. One of the pages in my note book is a list of Needs, and Wants for each *creative outlet I do. I worry about traveling with my sewing machines they are so super sensitive to bounces.

Anyway I am glad to read your thread I feel happy to find someone with similarities.
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Old 04-08-2016, 04:47 PM   #14
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OMG someone similar to me! I do a lot of costuming as well and have a lot of experience with all the random materials that go along with it. Lots of DIY experience and have learned a lot of mechanical and body work over the year. I would say I am finally hitting that reality of what I can do, what I can learn and what I should hire out. (Normally comes to cost of tools and space, or the fact I am small female and sometimes just finding a smart solution is not possible and it takes strength) I only buys tools now I know I will use a lot. But all the special stuff if I cant borrow it I hire the job out now. When I do hire out work, I normally look for someone that does not mind me hanging around and asking questions. With all this in mind I still find i can tackle anything I put my mind to (just have to be more flexible) I just do more and more research now before a project then I use to.

I find I am researching the bus (tiny home) in a way to live more free and reduce debt. Its been in the back of my mind for about 3 years. Its been more of a focus research now due to my kids ages too and wanting more experiences with them, not stuff.

I have a history of wanderlust, living out of my car, going over seas, backpacking. I settled down after I married to live a traditional life for my children but feel now is the time to balance more of what I am vs what is expected of me.

My question to you is how to do you plan to fit all the materials and tools used in cosplay with a family in a bus! I have racked my head over this for awhile now and wonder your thoughts. I tend to pack rat supplies. One of the pages in my note book is a list of Needs, and Wants for each *creative outlet I do. I worry about traveling with my sewing machines they are so super sensitive to bounces.

Anyway I am glad to read your thread I feel happy to find someone with similarities.
The internet, and Youtube in particular, are great to learn pretty much anything you need. If it's been done then someone has usually filmed it and put it out there.
As far as stuff, consider outfitting a cargo trailer for your workshop and a place to hold your supplies. You can tow it behind the bus. Just one idea.
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Old 04-08-2016, 06:23 PM   #15
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If I can sew a costume or piece together a wig and lighting on the floor of a hotel room - and I'm embarrassed to admit I've done this on the first day of more than one convention - then I figure I can find a way to get creative on the road. That said, most of my crafting supplies are probably going to find new homes with friends and family, and my favorites will either go to storage or I will entrust them to my mom for safekeeping. I will also be setting a hard limit of one project at a time for myself (that will be the REAL challenge!) If I only keep supplies for one project at a time, I believe I can make it work.

I have a 10'x10' sunshade/pavilion thing that I plan on taking with us, and some folding tables that I like to hope I can store under the bus while traveling, so when it comes to actually making something, I'll set up a portable studio outside. Natural light is so much better to work in anyway! I'm not sure about bringing the serger and computerized sewing machine on the road - they might go live at my mom's house for a while, but a basic sewing machine should travel just fine.

One more benefit of traveling is that I have friends who cosplay in just about every corner of the country. I have already been invited to come visit and they would love to have a sewing party. I'll bring the wine, and they can provide the room to work! ;)
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Old 04-08-2016, 07:30 PM   #16
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I love the idea of a pull behind work studio, but I am sure we will be towing a van. The wine and sewing party sounds like a more fun way to do it lol. I will have to really evaluate that money that type of work brings in vs needed space for a family.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:41 PM   #17
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Sewing machine storage ideas

Another idea for your sewing machines: build them into the furniture of the bus so they store underneath and/or inside tables, cabinets, etc. You could design and build a dining table the the machine stores underneath, as well as having table top extensions that come out when needed to give you the proper work area.
Find creative locations to store rolls of fabric inside the bus or maybe install a rack on the roof with a waterproof box that can hold the fabric rolls and other supplies. Wouldn't have to be very tall.....just high enough to hold a few rolls for projects in progress.
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Old 04-09-2016, 01:36 AM   #18
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What do you think about a loom in my bus?
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:17 AM   #19
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Robin,

Il-loom-inate us on your idea............

The pun was BEGGING me to get out!

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Old 04-09-2016, 08:11 AM   #20
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What do you think about a loom in my bus?
Hmmmmm, a loom. You could make the bed fold up and underneath a loom could fold up or down. ANYTHING is possible with a hammer, duct tape, 5 stripped wood screws, a rusty nail, a case of beer and a skoolie!
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