Meet Marthe and Jed and their bus conversion named Lloyd! The couple have two adorable little girls and live/travel in their passenger bus turned home in Australia.
Jed used to travel for work and was rarely home, but he spent 18 months of his free time making Lloyd into a wonderful house for his family. Now Marthe (@runningwld_mama) works online as an infant sleep consultant and the family gets to be together all the time — how special!
The couple only spent around $26,000 USD (including the bus cost) for their bus home. Because their rig is off-grid, their only monthly expense other than groceries/gas is $36 in bus insurance. Choosing minimalism has really paid off for this family!
We got to do a Q&A with Marthe which you can read below the photos. Be sure to watch her IGTV video tour of their bus at the end too.
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Family’s Off-Grid Passenger Bus Turned Home
Here’s the awesome family that calls Lloyd home!
This is what their bus used to look like….
And here’s what it looks like now!
I love how they set up the house to have this hallway down the side of the bus that leads to their room.
Buses let you take in all the beautiful surroundings!
Here’s their little bathroom. The sink and shower base/tub are both flower pots!
This is the girls’ room. Love the clever crib and bunk combo!
The kitchen is so clean and tidy. Love the back splash here.
Here’s the fridge and utensil area.
The couch looks especially comfortable!
Marthe says she loves having her husband home after years of him traveling for work.
Q&A with Marthe on Off-Grid Bus Life with Kids
How many people (and animals) are living in your bus?
Hi! We are Marthe and Jed with our two daughters Ellida (4.5) and Embla (2.5).
Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny?
We live here, there and everywhere! Haha! We live in Australia. I am originally from Norway and Jed is Australian. We don’t live stationary in our bus so our home town changes every few weeks. We are currently in a beautiful area on the East Coast of Australia called the Pacific Palms.
What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?
I am an infant and child sleep consultant, meaning that I work with families that are having problems with sleep and help them resolve their issues. Currently I do most of my work online and we travel full time.
Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
We decided to go tiny because we were feeling the urge to live simpler. To peel it back to basics and instead of being rich in money be rich in time and memories. We decided that we didn’t want to wait for something to happen to push us to live the life we wanted so we jumped in and bought a bus. We ended up selling our house, cars and most of our earthly possessions.
Why specifically did you choose to make an off-grid bus?
I think it’s the freedom that comes with it and an underlying urge to be free from the ‘system’. We can now go to the most remote beach in Australia and have everything we need. We are lucky enough to have a lot of sun to power our solar system here in Australia.
Tell us more about your off-grid system: How do you get water? Heat? Electricity?
We have 6 x 300 watt solar panels powering a 550 Ah 24v battery bank. The bus has a fully equipped kitchen with a full size fridge, electric cooktop and air-con. We also have a fireplace from @cubicminiwoodstoves to help keep us warm on the cooler nights.
We carry 600 liters of water that we fill up when we are driving through a town. Most towns in Australia offer somewhere to top up your water. We also have a 200 liter grey water tank. We have a Natures Head toilet so water use is mostly for showers, baths and dishes.
How did you first learn about bus life?
I remember seeing a woman on instagram many years ago who lived in a school bus and I became fascinated by the idea of being free of a mortgage and bills and being able to roam around and have adventures with my family.
How long did it take to finish your bus?
From when we bought it until we moved in it took 18 months of Jed working on it every moment of his free time from work. Unfortunately where we lived at the time we didn’t have any help so Jed did it all by himself and I had just had our second baby so I took care of the kids. It was a tough year and a half but worth it a million times over!
How did you build your bus? Did you have any help? Did you do it yourselves?
We bought a school bus and ripped the seats out ourselves. Jed peeled it back to the bare metal frame and rebuilt it from there into our tiny house. Jed has worked in building before but we both learnt a lot throughout the build.
Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost? What are bills/utilities like compared to before?
We spent around $40,000 AUD (~$26,000 USD) including buying the bus. Everyone laughed at us when we told them how much we were planning to spend because they thought it was impossible.
Before this we owned 1 property and rented another, both obviously cost money. On top of that there was car expenses, insurances, power bills, home-internet packages, Foxtel.. it just stacks up. We cleaned up and minimalised everything before moving into the bus including bills, memberships and electronics and now we only pay $36 per month for our insurance and that’s it. During normal times we more often than not free camp at some beautiful spot and get our electricity from the sun. We make sure we do groceries only once a week and on top of that is just fuel when we decide to move locations.
How did you find a place to park and live in your bus?
We use apps. friends and sometimes just our wanderlust. We like to move around but usually find a beautiful spot near a beach and stay for a few weeks at a time. That way it’s calmer and easier on the girls.
Before going tiny, what was life like?
Jed worked away and I was home with our 2 girls. We lacked support as we lived away from most of our family. We saw him every second week and all we did was talk and dream about how we could change things so he could be home more often. We missed him so much and nothing felt quite right.
Is there anything from your old life that you miss?
Not really, besides the people that we love and don’t see as often now as we are travelling a lot.
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
More time as a family, better finances, more peace in mind.
What’s it like living off-grid with children? Any particular difficulties or benefits?
They had to learn things like not wasting electricity or water. It’s easy to forget or take for granted the things that are at our fingertips so I am glad they are learning that lesson. Not having a laundry and space to dry clothes inside when it rains can get annoying but not enough to trade it for a mortgage and a power bill.
What makes your bus special?
It was built from the ground up by my husband for our family. There is a lot of love in these walls!
Is there anything you’d change about your bus now that you’ve been living it?
We are thinking of doing some adjustments eventually, like putting in a new door and a bigger bath tub but we are in no rush.
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
Give lots of thought and planning to maximising storage and minimising possessions. Give everything a home so you can keep your space clean and it will feel bigger than it is. And Jed always says “Don’t wait for a life changing event to change your life.”
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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.