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Bicyclists Spend Two Years Creating $28K Bus Home


Vanessa and Braden loved camping and taking overnight bicycling trips, but wanted an option that would allow them a better nights’ sleep and to travel further. They stumbled upon the skoolie community and were hooked! They’d never built anything before, but with the help of Braden’s dad and two long years of effort, they created this lovely home for themselves and their two dogs.

Their bus has a huge rooftop deck, and a back “deck” for their bikes/motorcycle and other storage. The interior is all clad with wood and/or faux brick that looks super homey. They did a Q&A with us about going tiny, so be sure to read that at the end of the post!

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They have an awesome desk with a huge monitor.

Here is where they started!

Making progress…

Now look at it! They even have an oven.

They have a back deck for bikes and storage.

Oh the amazing places they go!

The right couch turns into a dinette

And this becomes a full bed for guests.

Look at that deck!

Pretty special!

Read their Q&A answers below!

How did you first become seriously interested in tiny homes?

In the summer of 2019 we started going on bike camping trips, and would bike 70+ miles round trip and camp overnight! After these trips, we wanted to go further away, and have a vehicle that would be able to hold our bikes and also be able to sleep in comfortably. This led us to finding the tiny home on wheels community, and went from wanting to build out a van to buying a bus and converting it!

What type of tiny house do you have or are you working on?

We have a Skoolie! Our bus is a 2006 International 3300 and is about 33ft long with the rack on the back.

Why did you go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of it for yourself?

We were definitely feeling stuck in our everyday lives, working jobs we weren’t in love with and wanting more out of life. We wanted to see all the beautiful places within the US and experience the life we always knew was in store for us. And this is just what we have done! We hit the road May of 2021 in our Skoolie, and have driven from Center Pennsylvania to the coast of California, seeing everything in between. We have learned to live in the moment and make the most of each day we get out on the road, and have no plans on stopping!

How long did it take you to finish your tiny house?

Our build took about two years. Covid definitely slowed us down, but also gave us the ability to take our time and add every detail we wanted in our build! Since we were not feeling rushed to get on the road, we were able to live in the bus while we were stationary and really adjust to the smaller space, which made the transition so much easier.

Did you do it yourself? Who helped? How much did it end up costing you to build it?

We did the build together, along with Braden’s dad. Neither of us had any experience with ANY type of tool or building a home, so we are extremely grateful for Braden’s dad who was able to teach us all the skills we needed to make this dream a reality!

We purchased the bus for $5,500 and put in about $22k – $23k of our own, so our total for everything is around $28,000.

How did you figure out where to put it? Do you keep it in one place or do you move around?

Luckily, Braden’s dad has land in Pennsylvania, so we ended up moving out there to store the bus and work on our build. We finished the build in May, and have been traveling on the road ever since!

What’s been the most challenging part about your tiny house so far?

So far, the most challenging aspects for us have been trying to plan our next destinations, but also making sure we are living in the moment as well. Not trying to stress about where we’re going next and just remembering to enjoy where we are NOW.

It is also stressful having an old school bus as your home, so having to worry about mechanical issues and/or breaking down can take a toll. But we always get through it together!

What benefits are you experiencing from it so far?

We have learned the importance of what it means to truly live a full life. We never realized how much we were playing it safe before versus going out and fulfilling a major dream. Everyday is a new adventure for us, whether it be good or bad, we are experiencing moments we NEVER thought we would achieve. We have also learned the importance of being open and honest with each other, and how to communicate with one another on a whole new level. Living in such a tiny space together, along with two dogs, it definitely tests your abilities with not only the relationship with your partner, but with yourself as well. Patience is KEY in this type of lifestyle!

What helpful piece of advice would you give to others who are interested in going tiny? What mistakes could you help them avoid?

Test out the lifestyle first! If you are thinking about van life or bus life, rent a van for a weekend and see how you like it! If you are wanting to build a tiny home, maybe go on a mini staycation in a tiny home AirBNB or similar. I think we were a bit shocked going from a four bedroom home to a 120sqft school bus, but it definitely made the adventure fun!

Another piece of advice if you are wanting to build out a rig to travel on the road, do your research before buying! There are SO many helpful resources, from Youtube to Reddit, to just learning from the community on Social Media. Knowing what engines to stay away from, or other red flags of specific vehicles is a huge part of not making this lifestyle tough on yourself!

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Our big thanks to Vanessa for sharing! 🙏

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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 three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Marsha Cowan
    December 23, 2021, 6:57 pm

    Very, very nice and pretty! Buses rule!

  • Suzette Mackey
    January 1, 2022, 6:19 am

    I couldn’t be prouder of my son Braden and his fiancé Vanessa! They’ve had some tough times with this build but I’m so thankful that his dad was there to help and guide him! I definitely miss them both soo very much!! They have so many adventures in front of them.

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