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Better Mental Health from Bus Living! Shelby & David


Here’s another example of an awesome couple who found themselves trapped in the 9 to 5 grind and wanted something more — and so they jumped on the skoolie bandwagon, cultivated remote work opportunities, and have been bus living since September 2019.

Shelby says bus life has significantly improved her mental health, which is so important in general, and especially during the challenging times that have been the last year.

The bus interior is sleek and modern, which is just what they wanted to keep a minimalistic feel. We got to interview Shelby, so be sure to read the Q&A at the end of the post (and follow them on Instagram here).

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Shelby & David’s Aimless Travels in their Bus Conversion

Drawers in the kickboards are such a great feature!

They have an awesome storage couch.

The marblelike countertops are so classy.

They have an oven and stove top.

Here’s there table area.

The tile looks super classy.

Here’s the table area.

And here’s their bedroom.

The table folds out for Settlers of Catan.

Here’s their closet space.

Composting toilet in the bathroom.

Awesome shower head with constant hot water.

Subway tiles are super classy.

Check out that rooftop deck!

They chose to replace the bus door with a home door.

Living the dream!

What are your name(s)?

Shelby & David

How many people (and animals) are living in your home?

Us 2 and our 60lb adopted dog, Django Fett!

How long have you lived tiny?

We’ve lived in our converted bus since September 2019

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?

We both work from the road! I (Shelby) am a professional job coach for a company. As a contractor, it’s allowed me to earn an income, work remote, and control my own schedule. In addition, I also do virtual gymnastics classes and earn affiliate revenue through our website, www.aimlesstravels.com.

David does conversions and builds for other people while we’re traveling projects. He does small projects, consultations, as well as partial / full build-outs.

What are you hoping to get out of living tiny/small?

Living tiny allowed us to focus so much less on the materialistic things and more on what actually matters in life. We had to give up a lot of our “things” to do this and really haven’t looked back since! On top of that, we LOVE the fact that we control our own schedules. And, of course, a tiny home on wheels has allowed us to boondock and remain off-grid for up to 3 weeks in some of the most beautiful locations in North America!

Describe your decorating style and philosophy.

Our goal when designing this bus was to make it feel as open and airy as possible, hence why we used a lot of whites, grays, and blues. We wanted it to feel modern, while also having all of the luxuries that a normal house would have, plus some.

Our philosophy throughout our entire build was to not skip steps. We wanted to do everything right the first time (or at least try out best to!) so that things wouldn’t break later down the road. So far, so good!

What inspired you to choose a skoolie (rather than say an RV, van or a tiny house)?

This was our first rig, so we definitely didn’t want to do something as small as a van. While many couples do awesome in those smaller spaces, we were just a bit worried. We didn’t want a full-size RV, nor could we have afforded one! School buses are incredibly affordable and are made with safety in mind (They are built to protect children, after all!). We also loved the medium-size buses that we kept seeing around. It really is the perfect size. It’s not too large or unmanageable to drive and it’s not too small to the point where we’d get on each other’s nerves 24/7.

Our goal was also to not have to take out a loan. In order to afford the lifestyle, it all led us to purchasing our bus!

How did you acquire your home? Did you do a lot of renovations?

We purchased the 2002 Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner from Charlotte, North Carolina (hence her name, Charlotte!). She was originally used in the USAF and we even have her dog tags to prove it!

We did the entire build-out ourselves (although David deserves most of the credit for the engineering and actual construction!). It took us 10 months to build out the entire thing.

What are bills/utilities like compared to before?

We pay literally $0 in utilities including water, electricity, dumping fees, etc. We also don’t have to pay a single dime in rent, which used to cost roughly $1-$2k per month from where we’re from.

Some of other bills that we have include our cell phone bills, WiFi, grocery shopping, propane (every few months), laundry, gas, diesel, gym, etc.

Before going tiny, what was life like?

Life was hectic. I (Shelby) had just graduated with my Master of Science and felt this insane pressure to get a 9-5p job like everyone else. In New Jersey, the grind was very real and you always felt like you had to be doing something to remain at the same pace as someone else.

On the other end, David was working a 9-5p job as a web developer and felt completely stuck. We both felt stuck and had no idea what our futures really looked like.

Is there anything from your old life that you miss?

FAMILY AND FRIENDS. 100%. The longer you’re away from them, the more you realize how much you value them in your lives.

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?

My (Shelby) mental health has improved SO SO much. Not that every day was a walk in the park, but it’s allowed me to better process challenges, issues, and my anxieties. I cope better and set boundaries for myself, unlike before.

David and I have also been able to live out our dreams of traveling full-time. David is able to pursue his ultimate dream of creating a business.

The community around van and bus life has also been AMAZING. We’ve made so many friends and memories that we’ll cherish for a lifetime.

What about some challenges?

The past year and a half has been filled with challenges. While social media may portray the lifestyle as beautiful, it’s not always the case. Since leaving, we’ve gone through 2 tow vehicles, lost a trailer, had to get towed out of snow bank in an area without signal, quarantined during COVID, tore off a few things on the outside of the bus, and so much more.

There was also a large adjustment period for the both of us. It took about 6 months for us to really get into a routine and feel comfortable with the entire lifestyle.

What makes your tiny home special?

Our tiny house is special because it’s made specifically with our own personal needs and wants in mind. She may not be perfect, but she works great for us! Some of our favorite features include: 135 gallons of water, 1420 watts of solar, recirculating shower concept for unlimited hot showers, radiant heat flooring, propane & diesel heater, spray foam insulation, etc.

What is your favorite part of your tiny home?

The roof deck. It’s always been a favorite since leaving on our journey!

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?

Expect an adjustment, but if you’re on the fence, we’d recommend just jumping two feet first! The biggest challenge is making that first move and the rest just follows along.

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Our big thanks to Shelby for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife and mama of two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Avatar Linda Baker
    February 19, 2021, 8:56 pm

    great that you are living your dreams – not many people can. Please tell me that your pictured single bed somehow gets larger! Wondering about heat/ac and if your bed is in the back of the bus and if the bathroom is a “wet room” type bathroom. Also wondering about the TV shown against the blue curtain – in the kitchen?

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