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Family’s Short Bus Conversion

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This is the story of a family and their small bus conversion. They live and travel in an 18-foot Thomas short school bus. They’re @runawaymusbus on Instagram.

They are a husband and wife with their adopted 10-year-old daughter, legal guardian 6-year-old son, and their puppy. They live and travel all over the United States. They also shared an article called 7 tips to survive van life with kids that you might enjoy. Below is their bus and our interview with them.

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Family’s Short School Bus Conversion

Familys Short School Bus Conversion 001

Familys Short School Bus Conversion 003 Familys Short School Bus Conversion 002 Familys Short School Bus Conversion 004 Familys Short School Bus Conversion 006 Familys Short School Bus Conversion 005

How did you first become seriously interested in tiny homes?

When we were doing foster care and needed to fully utilize our space to make the best home for our heart children

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

We live in a 18 foot Thomas short school bus. There is my husband and I, our adopted daughter age 10, our legal guardian son age 6 and our puppy!

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

We had a horrible year where after 5 years with us the court decided our son would return to his bio mom. After eleven years working with at risk children and 34 placements- I broke down. We sold everything, converted a bus – planning to travel to put ourselves back together. Much to everyone’s surprise the court dramatically switched and now we all travel!

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

We bought our first bus already set up but it was propane fueled and died. We bought a second bus where the outside was well done but the inside was pretty blank. For two weeks we ripped out and savaged seems much of the first bus to create our new home. We also added solar, plumbing and an cooktop!

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

Parts of it ourselves. Other parts precious owners. It was a beautiful blending. In total buying both buses and working on them we spend around 35,000$

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

We move around almost everyday!

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

I would say the amount of times police are called on us. Hugely surprising but loads of cities are not nomadic friendly.

What benefits are you experiencing from it so far?

Our family has been working through loads of trauma and special needs. It’s not all sunshine but I see us growing together as a family. Mending what is broken and learning to laugh again.

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

Patience and change your expectations! It is never what you plan so keep a sense of humor.

Do you have a website, blog, or social media pages where we can connect with you and follow along?

I mostly post on Instagram under Runawaymusbus

Our big thanks to Kaitlin Musser for sharing!🙏

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Dana Eads
    February 6, 2020, 2:41 pm

    As more and more people gravitate to full time living in buses and vans, many complain about police harassment regarding their lifestyle. Well, if folks would paint their vehicles, improve the look of the exterior, perhaps their law enforcement contact time would diminish.

    • No name this time
      February 6, 2020, 9:19 pm

      The appearance can affect people’s reactions, sure. In my experience, what I don’t like is when a person living in their vehicle pulls up in front of my house and makes a lot of noise, leaves trash, does auto repairs, etc, as if there were suddenly a new house plot where the street used to be. The solution might be to designate areas that aren’t right in front of someone else’s home, so that people in tiny house vehicles can park without annoying established residents. I realize I sound like a NIMBY, but it’s a fact, people who paid a zillion dollars for their 1,000 square foot home (I live in coastal California) don’t want other people living on their doorstep. But this has nothing to do with this particular school bus home and the good people who live in it.

  • Life goes on
    February 11, 2020, 6:13 pm

    I’ve lived in converted buses twice in my life now mid 50s and when I was in my 20s
    I have had a saying forever

    “Everyone loves a school bus and the ides of people living in one ! Until you park more then a minute “

  • Caril
    January 13, 2022, 6:31 pm

    I am more than thinking about full time skoolie living. That in mind, I would not want a skoolie parked in front of my house no more than a neighbor having a junk car on their property nor an unkempt lawn.

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