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From Studio Apartment to Minibus for Freedom

Budd the Bus is the home-on-wheels for Ethan, a nomad who wanted to have his own place, without spending so much money on Colorado rent. He had already downsized to a studio apartment, so the bus gave him much more freedom without sacrificing much space.

His bus features an adorable wood-burning stove, a super-compact bathroom, a fold-down desk, and more! Enjoy the pictures and Ethan’s story below.

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He Spent 1,112 Hours Creating His Minibus Home

There were many reasons I got into tiny living, but the main reason was to save money while increasing freedom. I love having my own place to myself but Colorado rent hikes made that difficult to afford, even after moving into a tiny studio apartment. After that moving into a minibus didnt seem like such a drastic jump lol.

I built my home entirely on my own if you dont count the driveway I was provided with by my father to do the conversion in, as well as all the advice and ideas I was given by more experienced people along the way. It took me a year and a half (1,112 work hours) to finish my tiny home, and I enjoyed the process much more than I expected!

Tiny living has 100% changed my life for the better. I’m saving tons of money, I get to live wherever I want, if I don’t like where I am I don’t have to negotiate and pay fees to leave, I can’t buy things I don’t need anymore (personal preference), and I get to feel self-sufficient and responsible for my own well-being instead of relying on someone else to do things for me and just hoping that they did it right. There are of course downsides, though. I miss having hot, unlimited water as well as a place you know for sure you’re allowed to be.

The increasing cutting down of available places to spend a night has been annoying to deal with, since we’re often lumped into the same group as the homeless. Though fingers can be pointed in all directions for that, so it’s just something to work around, not get mad about. The increased risk of your whole life being in one crashable place weighs on you a bit, but all in all I’m living the life I used to dream about living so all the negatives fade away into nothing when I consider how much happier I am overall.

I’d say maybe the toughest part to adjust to, which I wasn’t expecting, is how lonely the life can be. Even though I’m a naturally introverted person, so I spend most of my time alone, living so differently and nomadically can make you feel very alienated from friends and society.

I miss seeing a lot of the people I grew up with and have come to meet in recent years, and the occasional DM isn’t the same. Plus of course people tend to be more wary of the guy living in a vehicle when they’ve never seen it before lol. I’d love to visit some van/buslife gatherings one day so I could meet some more people living this way.

The most rewarding part for me, perhaps paradoxically to my previous answer, is how little pressure is put on me to conform and meet the standards of societal norms. Constantly meeting new and different types of people really helped me to realize how little I should think of how I come across to others, which was a source of much anxiety.

Knowing that I can up and leave if I don’t like where I am at any moment has really allowed me to be myself. I’ve always felt different, and living like this has confirmed that, though in a good way. I’m under no obligation to be anywhere, see anyone, or do anything unless I want to. That’s exactly what I needed to make me actually want to do those things.

If you’re looking to live a minimalist life on the road, make sure it’s something that fits your personality. Maybe rent a RV/van the size you’re looking for and take a trip for a couple of weeks. Take note of the things you liked and didn’t like about the experience, as well as thinking of things you would like specific to your build that the rental didn’t have and the things about it, you absolutely couldn’t do without (for me, it was my own private shower and toilet).

It may sound harsh but If you need to go out and party at the club every night, you need to constantly be around friends and family to feel whole, or if you simply can’t do without all the comforts a stationary home can provide, you will not like van life. It’s better to know that now, before you’ve already stripped out a vehicle you bought. If these are things that you feel are available to you in overabundance, and you would prefer the freedom of not relying on these things as much, then I think it’s something you should look further into. You may be surprised how well the lifestyle could fit exactly what you’re looking for, like I was!

VIDEO: Mini Tour


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A post shared by Ethan Salsbury (@budd_the_bus)

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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.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Marsha Cowan
    October 15, 2023, 7:28 pm

    Just a suggestion for the loneliness. Find several nice RV courts in areas you’d like to get to know and settle down for like 4 months in each area. You’ll get to know people at the court, people at the restaurants and grocery stores, people at the laundry mat, and you can volunteer at the local happenings while you’re there, so plan your stay around holidays and celebrations. From each of these “homes” you can travel and see other things and places, but being involved in the local events is where you make friends with kindred spirits, and a 4 month stay gives you time to be entrenched with people who will be looking forward to your return in 8 months. In fact, you’ll make friends who will keep in touch while you’re parked elsewhere. Just a suggestion. Really nice tiny house bus.

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