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Old 08-11-2018, 05:07 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
New skoolie wannabe

Hi all

I so love this site. I've done alot of research and still have more to do. I always wanted an rv. But like others have said, the way they are set up doesn't seem to work.

I am a writer and crafter and have dreamt of this portion of my life since 1990. I was 40 when, as a single mom, i started college in environmental science. The one thing that kept me focused is that i wanted to semi retire as a writer. Yes i do write but need to get my stuff out there.

The decision to semi retire was made for me. After 4 years of harassment and being bullied, i was assaulted by a co-worker. Because i was not family, i was let go. And to make matters worse, workers comp was denied.

I kind of spiraled down for a couple of years, used up my savings and lost my housing. Things are turning around now and I am excited about what is to come next.

I haved appealed the workers comp and should know this month and am pretty confident that i will win. My attorney quoted an amount which will pay for a skoolie with upgrades, such as solar panels, Insulation and composting toilet. I will stiil have some financial padding too.

The furniture i have in storage is perfect for a skoolie for myself, my pup and my brat cat. That's it for now. Sorry for the long introduction.

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Old 08-11-2018, 05:18 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,269
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
Welcome to our collective nightmare. I purchased a skoolie (84 p Thomas Saf-T-Liner (transit style)) because rent in my neck of the woods is obscene. Lots of room inside and it's MINE, all mine!
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:47 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by CaptSquid View Post
Welcome to our collective nightmare. I purchased a skoolie (84 p Thomas Saf-T-Liner (transit style)) because rent in my neck of the woods is obscene. Lots of room inside and it's MINE, all mine!
I know! what's funny is that if I were to put a down payment on a house, no one would think twice about it, even though there is a lot of work and expense to keep it together. but, I mention a school bus conversion and I get this shocked looked and the questions start flying. like, what about insulation? water? what if it breaks down? where are you going park it? don't you think that's risky? especially at your age?

the only thing I am not looking forward to is gutting it, but I will do it, hopefully in time for my sister's 70th in san diego in October and my daughter's first baby in November in ohio.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:55 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 936
Chassis: GMC or Chevrolet, I hope
Engine: gasser probably
dont be a wannabe
JUST be a BE !!!!!!
the more i learn, the less I know what to buy . . .
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Old 08-14-2018, 01:11 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,269
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
The gutting out part is easy; I hired two kids to remove the seats. I bought a Sawzall, an impact driver, a hammer, a pry bar, and a die grinder. Tools are now mine to keep and the labor was only $340.

Insulation? 1" double-faced rigid foam panels.

Flooring was 240 sq ft of carpeting and 80 sq ft of linoleum.

I had a custom bed frame made for my full-sized mattress for another $340.
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:04 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jun 2018
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in a previous post, I spoke about an assault on my job and that I had appealed a worker's comp denial. I won, but about half the amount I was originally quoted. I think it's still enough to purchase a skoolie, gut, insulate, get a generator and solar panels. everything else can wait.

I have been living with a friend and have done a lot of research on a skoolie, but of course, this is where everyone starts cautioning me to NOT do this. where were these people when I had lost my housing due to injury and illness? they just shook their heads and said "what a shame." now, when I come up with a potentially workable solution, they are all there trying to tell me not to do this.

so, to my new skoolie community, if you had your worries about breaking down somewhere, and everything else that could go wrong, has it ever been the nightmare that non-skoolies predict? do you still love your lifestyle? what other suggestions do you have?
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:11 PM   #7
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i have been discussing this with my sister in Canada who is living in a van:

this is her response. any suggestions? A school bus isn't practical. Not unless you have $3000 a month to live on. I love skoolies, but for poor folks they're not realistic. That $8000 will only buy the bus and the minimum things to build and set it up for living. Then you have to think of where you'll keep it. You can stay overnight at Walmart, not CAMP there. One night!!! No music, no outdoor cooking, no tables, no lawn chairs. Walmart is the place to go when nothing else is available. They are good to offer this free service. But some people are abusing Walmart's generosity, so many Walmarts are stopping this practice. This isn't fair for all of us considerate travellers. I hate disrespectful abusers!
To be a nomad you have to be a minimalist. All I own now is what is in my van and in a 4x4x4 foot locker. And some of that belongs to TK.
I don't want to continue this conversation with you unless you get real!
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Old 10-01-2018, 09:34 AM   #8
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Location: Montana
Posts: 581
Year: 2000
That is one take on Skoolie life. It's easy to make guesses on what it would be like... I am not sure Vanlife is that much less costly than skokie life. But I have never lived in a van full time - so I am not sure what it would cost me.
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My Bus was $4500. I likely could have gotten it cheaper. I spent another $4000 making it livable.
After that, I have added a few things - like solar and a generator - and a composting toilet. So another $2500 and I can live happily with my dog.
My total build with new tires and tow hitch and wood stove was about $14,500.
I am able to comfortable live off-grid - so I do not need full hook up - my monthly cost of living is less than $1500.
I don't stay in RV resorts. I do Work/Camp gigs - or find free places to park - or friends properties (I do spend nights at Walmart when traveling - but only for an overnight. I will stay at state or national parks at times - and like that.
I have been living full time since October 2017. In 11 months, I have spent $17.8k and traveled 22k miles. I spend a lot less when parked for a few months... I like having a little more space than a van. Again, it is preference - you can make anything work for you.
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You can always find people to agree with you and disagree with you. When I started this adventure, I listened to a lot of people who shared advice. Some great / Some not - I learned that there is book knowledge, google knowledge, gossip knowledge, and life knowledge. Find what works for you.
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Monthly costs will vary depending on what you do.
When I am traveling, my fuel budget goes way up. I am averaging 10-14 MPG.
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- Roger (Dog.Rescuer)
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:23 AM   #9
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Weeki Wachee, FL
Posts: 3,032
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
$8000 is more than I paid for my short bus plus conversion nplus a year traveling around the US. Probably approaching that cost on my new bus just in the build process. Everybody's experience will be different!
Keep up with us and our build!
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Old 10-01-2018, 12:02 PM   #10
Bus Nut
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Greenwood, Indiana
Posts: 669
Year: 1999
Coachwork: New Flyer
Chassis: D45HF "Viking"
Engine: 11.1L Detroit Diesel S60
Rated Cap: 51,600
What I've noticed is a lot of people who have never done what you are thinking of doing have a lot of opinions that you absolutely must hear. I got quite an earful (still do in some quarters).

I've had family actually make fun of me - some of it really hurt. In fact, there are things I don't talk about with those individuals now. In my eyes they violated my trust. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

On the other hand, some of those individuals are now taking an active interest in what I'm doing.

But I've done my research. I know about how much this conversion will cost me (thanks to a bunch of people on this site who have given freely of their knowledge + hours and hours of research). I understand how this will change my family's life (I have 6 + 1 cat I'm building for) - at least in my head. Once "in the moment" I might have second thoughts... ;) ;).

I am trying to have contingencies in place for when "bad things" happen (blown engine or tire; kids having a food fight; etc.).

Finally, I have an "exit plan" for once our stint in our bus conversion is done - unless we like it enough to keep going.

You don't have to plan like what I have. Many people have launched with much less planning (and planned for the next milestone as they reached the current one). However, for my wife - she wanted rough outlines of a plan before she "bought into" the idea of a bus conversion.

Once we launch into it, our goal is "debt-free for life" (something we should have done years and years ago). I'm teaching my kids what debt does to you - as the Bible says in Proverbs 22:7b (ESV): "the borrower is the slave of the lender."

So all of that to say - "follow your own path" and "be true to yourself." Do your homework and your planning - know what financial resources it will take not only to build out your bus the way you want it, but also to meet certain "difficulties" like a blown engine or tire. Luke 14:28-30 (ESV):
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
So, maybe a "stealth camper van" is the way to go for you - maybe not. The best thing is (and the worst thing is) - its up to you!
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Old 10-01-2018, 03:43 PM   #11
Join Date: Sep 2018
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Meanderthal is a very clever bus name! I totally dig it =)
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Old 10-01-2018, 07:10 PM   #12
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Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
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Old 10-02-2018, 08:17 AM   #13
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: The West
Posts: 1,210
Year: 1998
Coachwork: MCI
Chassis: 102 EL3
Engine: DD 60
Howdy and welcome Meanderthal!

To your sisters comments: There are many different ways to live this "mobile" lifestyle. It is usually pretty hard for someone living a "typical" lifestyle to imagine being mobile. It is hard for many people that are mobile to imagine anything different than "their" version of mobile. So, lots of different opinions.

In my opinion , just about anything is possible. Whether or not you will be happy with it is an unknown. In my experience, it is typically a fairly isolated lifestyle (at least in terms of having people constantly around and talking to you). Not too many folks like that (some do, of course). The inexpensive places to stay may not be where you want to be, or, you might find a person that let's you setup long-term camp on their property a few miles from exactly where you want to be. It is very hard to predict/plan some of the things that happen.

There are many questions/debates on the RV forums about what it costs to full-time and those may give you some good ideas. It certainly is not "free" and, depending on you, it goes up from there. I spent 2016 living very comfortably but as inexpensively as I could, it averaged to $25/day. I spend more than that now because I decided I needed something "more." Many live on less, many live on considerably more.

The problem with the analogy about the house is that it generally has a real value. Meaning, you buy it today for $10 and maintain it, you can expect to sell it tomorrow for $10. Of course there is risk (and maintenance cost and interest and ???). With a bus/RV, that value is always decreasing. It doesn't matter what improvements you make. $10 today is almost guaranteed to be $5 tomorrow (or worse, you can't sell it). So, in theory, the down payment on a house is not being flushed down the toilet. The real problem having that discussion with nearly anyone is that they simply cannot understand any lifestyle that is outside the norm.
JD - Full timer out west
Missy - 1998 MCI 102-EL3 - 1.7kW Solar - 10kWh Lithium
My Adventures & Build
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Old 10-02-2018, 09:18 AM   #14
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Washington State
Posts: 82
Year: 2001
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Amtran
Engine: DT466E
Maybe build one of these... [IMG] [/IMG]
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