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What Is A Skoolie?

Skoolies are the perfect solution to the nomadic souls looking for the next best thing to a permanent shelter.

Skoolies are refurbished school buses, renovated to your preference, and work like mobile homes.

For those who prefer life on the move and traveling long distances, then you should get yourself a skoolie. 

Most school buses range between 20 and 45 feet long, approximately 245 to 300 square feet.

These vehicles are large enough to fit necessary amenities in your day-to-day lives.

These amenities are beds, kitchen, running water, bathroom, and living space. In addition, skoolies are gaining popularity, and these mobile homes are suitable for people of all age groups.

Skoolie Conversion Process

If you like getting your hands dirty and having your DIY projects, then converting a school bus into a mobile home is a challenge you can take.

However, the work input needed in the conversion process is a lot.

It will take you a couple of months before the whole project is complete and your skoolie runs perfectly.  

The initial step involves removing the seats to create enough room to work with.

Then, depending on your preference, you may need to alter the roof by raising it or the floors to get that homely finish.

Raising the ceiling will improve air circulation and ventilation. 

With the help of a professional or by yourself, you can now work on the amenities.

The process is tricky, especially with the plumbing and installation of gas.

Installation of an HVAC is a valuable but unnecessary addition as it makes it comfortable. 

Advantages of the Skoolie Conversion Process

  • DIY: It’s a DIY project which allows you to design the interior of the skoolie. In addition, you can include details to the bus, such as RV wood stoves, wood countertops, and tiled showers. 
  • Sturdy: School buses are manufactured with a solid body. The fact that they carry children and are sturdy means that your skoolie can hold up well in case of an accident.    
  • Easy repairs: If your bus needs repair, the repair shops near you will fix your skoolie. In addition, you can find new or used parts at the repair shops with ease.
  • Affordable: Skoolies are cheap as you can find these school buses at auctions country-wide. Depending on your negotiation skills, you can also take your search online on sites like Facebook or Craigslist for less than $7000.  
  • Easy waste disposal: When it comes to the toilet, either compost or a standard toilet works perfectly. The compost toilet separates solid waste from the urine, making it easier to dispose of. However, a standard bathroom will cost you more as it requires you to connect pipes to the grey water tank. 

Disadvantages of the Skoolie Conversion Process

  • Time-consuming: Converting that school bus is time-consuming and energy-draining, especially if you do it yourself. It will take some time before you can appreciate the conversion process.
  • Expensive: The conversion process is costly, and you will require to throw money at most if not all constructions. The material necessary to turn the bus into a home can be expensive. 
  • Knowledge and skills: When doing this as a DIY project, you require a lot of knowledge on building and construction. Not to forget the necessary carpentry the skoolie needs. In addition, you need to be good with tools to fix your electrical and plumbing issues. 
  • Lacking parking spots: Camping spots are hard to find as some RV parks won’t let skoolies in. To overcome this challenge, build a self-contained skoolie and equipped so you can park almost anywhere.   

RELATED: Skoolie vs Box Truck vs Van

Can I Buy a Skoolie?

Yes, if you have embraced a life of travel around the country, then a skoolie might come in handy.

However, when buying a skoolie, there are two ways to go about it.

One is purchasing a ready-made skoolie which will cost you north of $35,000.

The other is getting the bus and converting it yourself, and the cost range is $5,000-$30,000 depending on your design. 

Before your skoolie is ready and running, it may take you a couple of months or years.

So here are some tips to save some coins when working on your DIY.

  • For wood, consider using old pallets as they are practical and cheap. 
  • Visit architectural salvage stores and purchase materials at an affordable price.
  • Install a solar system to save some cash on electricity
  • Instead of buying an old bus, purchase a new one to save on repairs and maintenance. In addition, a new bus will ensure the longevity of your mobile home.
  • Slow down and don’t be in a hurry to complete the projects. When shopping with anxiety, you may make unnecessary purchases. 
  • Make a checklist of every material you need to buy and use the list when going to the store.
  • Buy material that can withstand extreme weather irrespective of being too hot or freezing.
  • Do most of the work yourself without the need for professionals. That way you will get to save some money.
skoolie
image: Rupshare, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What Are The Benefits Of Living In A Skoolie?

There are some perks to living in a skoolie, and they include;

1. Spacious Than Vans

A bus is more spacious than a van. When converting the bus, you have more room to work with.

You can separate the space into separate rooms, which will give you a sense of privacy.

The ample space will fit in a fully functioning kitchen, bathroom, wood-burning stove, living area, fridge or freezer, and luxuries like a big-screen TV. 

2. Permanent Home

With the constantly rising prices in real estate, owning a skoolie can be an easy way to own a permanent home.

You don’t have to travel around in your skoolie; instead, you can decide to try a permanent parking spot.

In addition, having a skoolie as your home will cost you less than you would need for a deposit on a house.  

3. Traveling With Your Home

When you travel to different parts of the country, you miss something familiar.

Nothing is as comfortable as being able to travel with and in your home.

Being able to visit other places and seeing amazing sites, then returning to the comfort of your own home is an incredible experience.

4. Can Fit Families

The extra space in the skoolie can fit an additional bed for the kids.

The parents can have a separate room for privacy.

Couples live comfortably in a van, and other family members mean it’s time to graduate to a skoolie.  

5. Designing It to Your Liking  

The skoolie is like a blank canvas where you use your imagination to create your dream home.

You have the power to include all the aspects you require and turn that skoolie into your dream home.

Give the interior and exterior the style of your liking with a finish that will make people jealous.

5. Durability

School buses are made of heavy-duty material used on commercial tracks, making them durable.

The frame is made of steel tubing strengthened with a steel panel covering, and the exterior is made of corrugated steel.

In addition, most school buses are fitted with a diesel engine that serves their commercial purposes.  

What Are The Disadvantages Of Living In a Skoolie? 

Every coin has two sides, so as much as it sounds like a dream come true to live in a skoolie, life has its downsides.

Some of the possible challenges include:

1. Conversion Process is Costly

Buying an old school bus may be affordable.

However, when it comes to converting it into a living space, it isn’t cheap.

Depending on the details and design, the conversion process will cost you approximately $10,000-$40,000.

Skoolies are more spacious, and more space means more materials which translate to more money. 

2. Fueling Up

Old buses are not exactly eco-friendly, and in addition, they are gas-guzzling machines.

The large size of a skoolie means it will consume a lot of fuel.

As a result, while traveling around the country, you will notice an increase in the number of times you visit a gas station.  

3. Regular Maintenance 

If you are not going to purchase a new bus, then be ready to deal with the regular upkeep of the skoolie.

There must be a reason why the school bus is on sale. Mostly it’s because it has mechanical or structural issues. 

Before spending all your money on a spectacular interior, first, ensure your skoolie is running correctly.

Then, take the bus to a specialist to ensure the bus is running smoothly.

It would be unfortunate for your skoolie to break down far from home. 

4. Driving Licence

Getting your skoolie licensed may seem easy, but it’s more complicated than it sounds.

In addition, you are required to have a different driving license from the regular one.

Finally, to get licensed means you have to enroll in some lessons before you are licensed to move around in your mobile home. 

Driving a bus is different from driving a regular car.

The bus is huge and may have trouble fitting into some narrow roads, which means your movement is limited to some places. 

5. Difficult Parking

Parking is a huge downside when it comes to skoolies.

Most campgrounds are not suitable for parking school buses.

This may limit your travels as you don’t want to miss parking spots based on the size of your skoolie. 

How Do You Insulate a Skoolie?

After purchasing your skoolie, you need to think about insulation not to run your engine overnight to keep warm.

Various insulations are available on the market, such as spray foam, pallet wood, XPS boards, and mineral or sheep wool. 

Heat loss mainly occurs via the roof, floor, windows, and wall.

Therefore, when choosing the insulation material, you need to consider the R-value per inch.

R-value measures how well a 2D barrier can resist conducting heat flow.  

Below are some steps to follow when insulating your stole:

  • Assess your skoolie’s insulation needs. Ensure your insulation fits your budget, the weather of where you are traveling to, and where you want to install it.
  • Remove your floor and expose the metal at the bottom. Some buses’ floor cover is rubber or wood, and sometimes the floor cover is damaged. Use proper gear for the job to make it easy. After exposing the floors, take your time and cover any floor opening. Seal it airtight.
  • Instead of installing the insulation directly, add a thin layer of wood to create a thermal break.
  • Floor insulation, which you can use expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), polyisocyanurate foam (ISO), or extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). It is best to choose one that fits your budget. When attaching the foam, you can use glue or something heavy to hold it into place. Avoid using screws as that will create more holes. 
  • Insulating the walls and ceiling of your skoolie. Available materials include fiberglass, wool, wood, spray foam, and rigid foam. Before insulating, the walls secure all the wires to avoid double work. The type of installation you choose depends on your budget and how well you can install it yourself. 
  • Finally, insulating the windows. Skoolie windows are oversized and will allow heat loss fastest. 

Bottom Line

The skoolie is a giant metallic cage when it comes to insulation.

It is not easy to keep heat in a metallic structure; hence you need to use the best way to retain heat.

While insulating the ceiling, keep in mind that the noise will be unbearable when it rains.

So use an insulator that is soundproof as well. The weather will fluctuate depending on where you are.

Ensure your skoolie can retain heat and cool accordingly. 

Owning a skoolie is no longer considered a hippie lifestyle as it was a couple of years ago.

Instead, a skoolie will serve as a permanent, authentic home which is cheaper than paying a deposit for a house.

Skoolies are spacious and can fit beds for your kids while allowing you and your partner privacy in a separate room.

In addition, you can travel across the country from the comfort of your home. 

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