We Bought a School Bus

Mid life crisis? Lost our minds? Reliving our youth? I mean, by age I am due for a mid life crisis but that’s not what this is.

We bought a bus because we’re going to convert it into an RV, mostly to use on our land in Colorado. We could have gone the conventional route, financed a fancy RV and buried ourselves in debt like normal Americans. What’s the fun in that? We’re going to build this thing ourselves, the way we want, on a budget. That’s way more fun.

The reactions to our bus purchase among friends and family have been quite funny. Most people are shocked at first, but then, after a few minutes, they get it (or they’re just being nice). I tell everyone who’s not privy to the moniker, search for the term: Skoolie. You’ll see. People make some truly creative and luxurious homes out of these things.

Kids, I never want to hear you say that you had boring parents.

– Actual thing I said to my kids

We purchased our bus from a friend’s auction house. Guess what? He ended up buying one too. We have matching buses and similar goals. I thought this was funny: someone asked me how I talked my wife into buying a school bus. It was her idea. She had to talk me into it and she managed to persuade our friend to do the same. She’s a bad influence.

Of course, everyone wants to know how much a retired school bus costs. That’s part of the beauty of this purchase. We ended up with the winning bid at $3,900. After taxes and fees, we paid a total of $4,800. Our friend won his at $2,800 (exactly the same model and year, with fewer miles) and his likely totaled around $3,800. That’s cheap. I mean, that’s really cheap for what you get 🤑.

Here’s a quick rundown of our skoolie.

It’s a 2005 Freightliner/Thomas handicap bus. What makes it unique is that, being a handicap bus, it has an extra door with a wheel chair ramp and no interior wheel well humps. It’s also shorter than a typical school bus (25 feet vs 30+feet), making it more manageable on the road. It’s powered by a Mercedes Benz Diesel engine with 186,000 miles on the clock (low for a diesel).

The bus is surprisingly clean and was well cared for by the Scottsdale Unified School district. It has front and rear A/C, tinted windows, insulation and goes down the road straight and steady. Nothing like the buses I grew up in (we didn’t even have seat belts). I checked out the engine and found no leaks and only a few minor issues that I’ll fix myself. Overall, I’m confident it will run well for years.

Currently the bus is parked in our driveway. We don’t have a HOA but I’m guessing our neighbors wish we did 🤓. It won’t be long before I move it to the RV parking area in our backyard and we’ll start tearing things apart and planning the fun stuff like exterior paint, the interior layout and ton of other things we’ll have to deal with.

I’ll be posting on this blog about the whole adventure in both words and video. If you want to follow along on this journey, subscribe to the blog for updates. It’s gonna be fun (and probably difficult…and expensive).

By donniefitz2

Family guy, software nerd, photographer and a gear-head.

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