Tips, Tricks & Trends

School Bus RV Conversions Are a Thing

The recreational vehicle industry has been the recipient of a lot of business due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. It seems people prefer to get out beyond the confines of their home, but prefer to travel in an RV versus stay in a hotel or mingle with crowds at airports. However, some people prefer to build their own RV instead of buying a travel trailer, fifth-wheel, or motorhome. For example, box truck conversions have been seen here and there. They are not alone, either. School buses have also gained some traction. 

Several different styles of yellow buses built by the Thomas Built Buses Company
2020 Thomas Built Buses | Thomas Built Buses

School Bus RV conversion

Buses of all different types and sizes are used by school systems and municipalities throughout the world. Often, after they are retired from service, they are sent to auction houses or salvage yards. But, most of them still work to a certain degree. So, these large mobile platforms have become eye candy to people who want to make an RV that is unique and somewhat less expensive than a traditional travel trailer or motorhome. These conversions are known as Skoolies. 

The Skoolie RV can be inexpensive

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Since many retired school buses do not have an afterlife, the resale market is reasonable. Many older ones can be purchased under $10,000. Some are available under five thousand dollars. Regardless of price, the sheer size of the vehicles makes them ripe for RV lifers that have the skills to make something with their own hands. In fact, it has become such a popular option that there is even a support network through Skoolie.net.

What are Skoolies like?

Most skoolies are personal projects of the owners. So, skill levels and themes vary. Some may have a barnlike feel from reclaimed wood and simple structures. Some may have Corian countertops and tile backsplashes. However, all of the renovated school buses tend to be the pride and joy of their owners. According to Tobias Roberts, Writer for Rise, the buses provide a cross between an RV and a tiny home in a space about 240-300 square feet. 

How much does a conversion costs?

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Conversions of Skoolies will vary wildly. Often times, people upcycle materials they find or are given. So, that saves on cost. However, even still, it is probably wise to budget $5,000-$30,000 depending on how posh one expects the finished product to look like. But, that finished product typically will have separated spaces for a bedroom, a bathroom with shower, a living room, and a kitchen. Those, of course, will require water and gas plumbing, tankless water heater, grey water tanks, black water tanks, and potable water storage, refrigerator, two or three burner stove, and a kitchen sink basin. Many owners also run solar panels on the roof for additional power. Do not forget to add air conditioning and heating. So, the pennies for the project add up fast.

Skoolies can be exciting projects for people who like adventure. They are a type of RV that provides an opportunity to grow skills in construction, electrical, and plumbing, but also an opportunity to travel with a somewhat low entry point. If a person is ready to live small, is handy, and is looking for a way not to spend a lot of money on a travel trailer or motorhome, a skoolie may be just what the doctor ordered.