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Mom, Dad, Baby Girl & Baby Boy on the Way: $12K Skoolie Remodel (No Debt!)


This amazing couple was tired of paying rent for a townhome they’d never own, and so they bought a bus and spent two years converting it into their house on wheels– without going into debt!

During those two years they got married, had a baby (the adorable Nora) and are expecting baby #2 (Atlas) in July! Needless to say, they had a lot going on and still managed to create a gorgeous home that they can travel in without acquiring more debt.

Right now they live stationary on a lot in Florida (for just $200/month), but they have a solar array, remote jobs and everything they need to live on the road when they want to. I got the chance to do a Q&A with them which you must read at the end of the post! They gave such thoughtful answers about bus life with kids.

Enjoy the photo tour and follow the Hazian family on Instagram here.

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Family of 4 (& Their Dog) Living In a Florida Bus Conversion

They can fold out the couch for easy lounging in their bus.

I just love the teal cabinets in this bus!

As a mom of two, I appreciate this little peak into “real life”! My house looks the same haha.

Great oven and stove for home-cooked meals. Love that sign.

The farmhouse sink is a dream.

This before and after is awesome!

The couple removed a closet that was here to make room for baby Atlas.

Here’s Nora’s cozy nook with a real crib!

Such a lovely couple — and lovely baskets!

Here’s the shower. Great tile combo!

And there’s a separate toilet/sink room as well.

They have a decent-sized fridge next to the shower here.

The sink is great for bathing dogs and…

Babies!

Q&A with the Hanzian Family!

What are your name(s)? Ian, Hannah, Nora, and Atlas (coming in June)

How many people (and animals) are living in your bus? We have 2 adults, an 18 month old, a newborn coming in June, and a tiny little chihuahua named Girlie.

Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny? We are currently stationary in Florida. We have lived tiny for almost a year and a half!

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time? We do not travel full time at the moment. When we do travel we have a few different routes of income. I (Hannah) have 2 Etsy stores where I sew handmade goods, and create vinyl pressed t-shirts. All of which we take with us when traveling. Ian uses an app called PopBookings to find Brand Ambassador gigs on our route. They are usually day or weekend gigs and pay very well. We also pick up some odd jobs, sell some of our thrift finds online, and also do a few online gigs that payout once a month. When stationary in FL, Ian works as a solar installer. I work my Etsy stores, but also have a lot of local custom work I do for various small businesses in our area.

Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny? We decided to go tiny after our first year of renting a town home. We were hustling each month to make rent yet barely could spend time together because we were working so hard to pay for this place we weren’t even going to own at the end of the year. When we did have time together, we spent it taking road trips around the country in our station wagon. When our lease was ending we knew we needed to make some serious decisions regarding our living situation. We didn’t want to pay rent anymore for something we wouldn’t even own, but knew we wouldn’t qualify for a home. We wanted to travel and have a paid off house. This was in the beginning of November of 2016. After talking about the idea of maybe investing in an Rv, one thing led to another and by the end of November we had our bus purchased and began demo-ing it! What we want to get out of this lifestyle is the experience of traveling while also living simply. We are showing ourselves that we don’t need much to be happy. Having each other, and living a minimal life is more fulfilling than living with more space and things.

How did you first learn about bus life? We actually don’t remember what first led us to bus life. I think it was on Pinterest. After we landed on the idea of a bus, we found out there was a tiny house festival an hour away from us where there was going to be bus conversions. There we were able to tour some buses and a week or so later we had ours!

How long did it take to finish your bus? It took us 2 years. The first year we didn’t get nearly as much done as we should’ve. We were planning a wedding, and trying to figure out how to budget out the project because we didn’t want to go into debt over it. Everything we did we paid for outright so that we would have a paid off home by the time we moved in.

How did you build your bus? Did you have any help? Did you do it yourselves? We built our bus behind the gym Ian was coaching at during that time. The owner of the gym and also very close friend of ours helped us out a lot with the build. He has a lot of experience with construction and electrical so he was a great resource to have had. We are so thankful for his help and ideas he gave us throughout the process. We also had our family on board and they helped whenever and wherever they could.

Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost? What are bills/utilites like compared to before? Our completed build including the cost of the bus was $12k. We did however get a lot of mechanical work done to the bus such as an engine rebuild which is not included in that cost. Safety is important to us especially when traveling with kids so we knew it needed to be done and now we can drive the bus and feel confident that it’s going to safely get us from point A to point B.

Bills and utilities are nowhere near what we paid previously in our town home. For example:

  • Rent: $1,000
  • Electric: when it gets hot in FL it got up to around $130 (this was for a 1,000 sq. Ft town house)
  • Water: around $30-$40 per month

Bus costs:

  • Insurance $89/month which is our only certain bill.

The rest depends on if we’re mobile or not.

  • If we’re stationary- $50/week to rent the piece of land we’re on in FL. It’s the perfect location, close enough to family and everything we do, but also on a multi acre property with a lot of wildlife, and amazing views.
  • Electric: we have the option to plug in to a 50amp hookup here which is nice. The owner of the property meters our electric and it’s about $3-$5/week so estimate $20 per month.
  • Water: free because we have a well water hook up here.
  • When we’re traveling: fuel cost. This adds up but depends on how often we travel. If we are traveling a lot within the month and also based on location can all contribute to how much we spend on diesel. We do have a spreadsheet we use to estimate our average cost per mile to move the bus. This number has averaged out to 37¢ per mile. We log every fill up so this number varies ever so slightly over time.
  • Rent when we travel: free. We avoid big rv resorts or places that cost money because we have found countless free spots that we enjoy way more and get more privacy. We also use a source called Boondockers Welcome which cost us $30/year and gives us access to so many places to stay all over the country.
  • Electric on the road is zero cost because we have solar.

How did you find a place to park and live in your bus? When we are stationary in FL we have a spot we call “home base”. I found this spot through a neighborhood group on Facebook. I made a post awhile back when we were finishing up the bus. I shared photos and what we were needing / looking for and surprisingly had a great amount of replies. We toured a few pieces of property but we are so happy with the one we are at!

Before going tiny, what was life like? Life was similar in a way that we traveled a lot, however we owned A LOT of things. It took us the whole two years of the bus build out to downsize.

How do your kids feel about bus life? We moved in when Nora was around 5 weeks old, so she doesn’t know any different. She loves her home, and she even has a real crib in the bus!

In what ways is it easier raising kids in a bus, and in what ways is it harder? It’s easier in a way that she is learning she doesn’t need a bunch of toys or things to be happy. She loves playing outside, and going on hikes. We have a hiking backpack that she sits in and we can wear on our backs. She will go for miles in it, and even takes naps in it if we’re on longer hikes. She’s learning to appreciate life with less things and more experiences. Ways it’s harder: sometimes when we have guests over she wants to be involved in all of the action and doesn’t want to sleep. Because she can see and hear everyone from her crib she wants to party too! If she’s tired enough she’ll sleep through it though.

Do they wake each other up?
I will have more info on this come June! We are still eagerly awaiting our little mans arrival. But his bassinet is right across from her crib with no walls so we are curious to see how she adjusts. She is a pretty heavy sleeper once she goes down so we’re hoping for the best!

Is there anything from your old life that you miss? Not really! We love this lifestyle because we are able to see each other more, see more places, and be close together (literally)! If anything…maybe the pineapples we grew at our town house haha!

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny? One of the biggest benefits I feel is that we are so intentional with our purchases. Since we don’t have room for so many things, not only does it teach us to appreciate what we have, but when we do want to buy something new it’s something we truly appreciate getting. Before, I loved just wandering the aisles of target or the mall buying clothes. In a bus, I can’t store all of the clothes. So now, when I want something new, I know I really want it because I have to give up another piece of clothing or item in the bus to have it (we usually try to follow the bring something in take something out rule).

What about some challenges? Challenges in bus life would be parking or turning around when in tight or crowded spaces while we’re on the road. We tow our car, so our 35ft bus + our car can be a lot of vehicle sometimes in small towns. But other times those situations make for the best stories (later on!).

What makes your bus special? Our bus is so special to us for many reasons. It’s our homemade home that we built with our own hands. It has been there through our engagement, wedding, and starting of our family. It has taken us on so many adventures, led us to meet so many amazing people, and taught us various life lessons.

What is your favorite part of your bus? Aside from the fact that it moves haha, I love our kitchen. We cook a lot so having a full (tiny) kitchen was important to us. We’ve cooked some of my favorite meals in that kitchen. I also love that it has brought out a passion for design and decorating in me!

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny? I would suggest that you build your house for you and your needs. It’s so easy to get caught up in certain things or trends you see on Instagram. But making a list of your needs and what you want in your tiny home can not only help give you direction but help you budget too. For example you may see a bus or tiny home with a ton of solar, but if you don’t plan on being off grid, don’t invest your money there. If you cook a lot look into an oven but if you can get by with a hot plate and cut costs there that you could use elsewhere, why not!

If going tiny is something you want to do, go for it! Although it sounds like a stressful process, if you don’t give yourself that push you’ll never be able to know what it’s like to do what you always wanted. There were so many reasons why we should’ve been scared or held back from building the bus. We had basically no tools and barely any construction experience. By the end of it, Ian gained such a knowledge on tools and construction that now he’s the family go to for projects and building things! I also suggest if you are worried that you have too many things and they have sentimental value, try the “take a picture” method. I had so many souvenirs and little meaningful objects that I thought I needed. Turns out all I needed was a photo of them to be reminded of those memories. I have lived without the things for a year and a half but I’m glad I can always look back at the photos to remember those fun times!

Do you have a website, blog, or social media page where we can follow along? Yes! You can follow us on Instagram @hanzian_bus

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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.
Natalie C. McKee

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Theresa Perdue
    April 30, 2020, 1:15 pm

    lovely home and lovely family. I especially love how they did the bathrooms. The tile in the shower is awesome and I love the stand that the bathroom sink is on. And of course the colors, and bedrooms and I could go on all day 😆. It’s a wonderful home!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      April 30, 2020, 2:18 pm

      So glad you like it! I thought it was spectacular too!

  • Avatar Anna Wendt
    April 30, 2020, 9:16 pm

    This is so nice! I would love to buy a skoolie and go on the road!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 1, 2020, 2:28 pm

      It would be fun!

  • Avatar Kristin Cooper
    April 30, 2020, 11:57 pm

    Y’all are just simply the cutest things in the world. HomeBus included!!! Y’all make me smile and keep me encouraged. #HomeBusGoals

  • Avatar Kathleen veltsos
    May 1, 2020, 8:25 am

    I love that they displayed “real life” with dishes, food prep, toys, etc. I love the colors too! Great job! Is it necessary for you them to have electricity hook up or is their solar enough and they just find it more convenient? Pardon my ignorance…I’m new at this😊

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 1, 2020, 2:28 pm

      I think it’s just easier when they’re stationary to have it plugged in, but I’m not positive!

  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    May 1, 2020, 10:40 am

    Really beautiful with lots of clever touches. Looks comfortable and cozy. What a lovely family.! I love to see a man doing dishes. Lol!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 1, 2020, 2:26 pm

      Haha same!

  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    June 21, 2020, 10:59 am

    Absolutely Wonderful!! It’s a beautifully done home for a beautiful family. Great job! Congrats on new baby to come soon : )

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      June 21, 2020, 12:44 pm

      So exciting for them!

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