Where to buy a bus:
So you have decided you want to buy a bus and join the nomads on the road. You seek something different, and you will do anything to get it! Nothing is going to change your mind; keep reading.
Below, I have compiled a list of things to consider and the most common online sites for buying a school bus. These resources will get you started on your search.
Choosing the bus for you!
First, you will need to decide on the type of bus you want. Dog nose or pusher. Shorty or shuttle? Can you manage driving it, the interior size, features, and the price?
Next, decide if you are buying from a school, reseller, or private party. Are you going to buy one with all the seats? Partially converted or fully converted bus? There are many variables, and your time and budget may contribute to this decision.
A unique fact about buses with wheelchair lifts, there are no wheel wells. So it’s a bonus for design inside the bus.
Check out Sam & Alex @Specialskoolie, who has converted their bus to accommodate his wheelchair.
No one is excluded from the skoolie lifestyle.
Will a school bus (aka Skoolie) fit your lifestyle?
What is your lifestyle? Do you have to work? Do you require a studio, garage, or office? Do you need off-grid living? Huge differential if you need to be entirely off-grid or in parks. Most people seem very concerned about budget. We are too. Alan works selling steel and I do CBD education. We both sell Wellphora CBD products: Read Alan’s CBD journey blog: https://skoolielifestyle.com/alan-cbd-golf-journey/
We feel living rent-free on public land, our tax dollars pay for ,is worth the investment in solar. Roughly $7K. We have 2500wt solar and 125 gallons of water.
If you plan to travel to state and national parks, you will need to consider the budget at $10 to $50 a night (just getting more expensive). We decided we would probably never voluntarily pay to stay anywhere. We have so much free public BLM land. I discovered the Arizona Trust Land with a $20/y fee, and you can stay 14 days, then move 25 miles, another 14 days, and so on. If we stick to this while in AZ, our rent, based on 365 days, is $.05 a day.
I will write more about Arizona State Trust land. Here is the link for the $15 one-person permit or $20 family. https://asld.secure.force.com/recreationalpermit/.
Also, the length of the bus you buy is an issue in most state parks, with a size limit of 27ft. A 20-25ft shorty might be the answer for you. Many parks have 1-3 40ft parking spots, but it will depend on the state park.
If you have a family and need privacy and bunk beds, a big rig is your only choice for a max of 45 feet in length. However, in my humble granny’s opinion, converting a bus with a family is too much for most young families.
The ones that renovate or build a skoolie with kids have all my admiration!
A Skoolie is not like a stick-built. It is not square or plumb. How skilled are you?
You are a unicorn if you can do all the work yourself and have a complementary location to build. Congratulations.
Time is the real killer of dreams.
We have found that delays and failures to complete jobs cause the most problems. If you can find one, it’s almost impossible to hold a “skoolie builders” to a time frame. It is rare to find someone who is both available and affordable.
The skills needed to build a skoolie are unique. Nothing is standard. Everything in a bus is customized. No matter how basic, even retrofitting furniture takes skill. Finding a skilled builder is very difficult.
So many people are getting frustrated with builders that have popped up and promised custom homes in a few weeks. Too good to be true! Yep, sure is. Please don’t fall for it.
We spent months thinking our bus on target to be completed in March 2022. We found nothing was finished in the bus and had to part ways with the builder. Money and time lost, we had to start over. The worst part was I retired, thinking we’d be on the road. The loss of my wages meant we had to eat beans and rice for an entire month. The struggle is real.
Hint: Have agreements in writing! It will save you tons of agony later. If the builder says no, move on! Hire someone else. Get everything on video. We did, thankfully.
ANo-builds are okay too!
I love the no-build bus/vans too.
Nothing is written that you need a fully converted home. It is legal to camp. With basic cooking, sanitation you can get registered. Check out our video about our registration process here: https://www.youtube.com/watch/skoolielifestyle/VOmj7dSLGSM&t=6s
Perhaps, you only have a few years to travel.
A no-build or a very minimal build, maybe rougher living, but it’s practical.
You can throw down carpet, hang drapes, throw in a bed, a couch, and set sail.
These minimalist builds are worth suggesting. You will find every kind of rig imaginable on the road.
The nomad community is fantastic, and you are welcomed and invited no matter what you drive. (As long as you are respectful)
I will write more on nomad etiquette.)
If you can find a “build event,” you can always add upgrades. If these builders might seem too risky. Remember, they won’t last long at these events if they are shotty. Trust your gut. Pay only for the day in advance, and meet your tribe.
Handy people or builders are at build events do so to help other nomads. These upgrades or repairs are often for what you can afford. Not free, but it fits your budget.
The builders that live the nomad life, know about rigs, roads, and resources. It is a good idea to lend a hand and make some friends.
This tribe is why! It’s why we are doing this crazy skoolie lifestyle. Society has forgotten how to be a community.
PC: Poppy_the_Skoolie + Angelica in flowers
Mechanics are the most valuable players!
Don’t forget you will be living in a vehicle, not a stationary building. The foundation of your home is the engine. You will need any rig serviced by a mechanic (unless you can do it). The diesel truck/bus garages are working on their priority customers first. You have a bus for a house, you weirdo! You will wait until they have time to work on it. You are then living in a hotel or with friends. Not fun.
We reccomend AAA Bus Sales in Phoenix, AZ. www.aaabussales.com
Tony takes care of skoolies. We did a video on how great he and his team treated us on YouTube. https://youtube/Skoolielifestyle
People travel from all over the country to have Tony work on their rigs. We will do the same.
Take great care of your mechanic, and they will care for you. They are saving you time and money.
Most importantly, it will help you secure your skoolie home. A good foundation is essential.
Thanks Tony AAA Bus LLC. Phone: (602) 278-9339. E-Mail: [email protected]. Address: 3138 W Durango Street, Phoenix, AZ 85009
The smartest choice for the small budget!
An RV is not a wrong choice if it is best for you.
Testing the nomad life in a renovated RV is probably the most economical way to set out on the road.
The problems come from the fact most really old RVs are so cheaply built.
If they have sat vacant for years, you will have to deal with replacing everything. Rats and other pests love to nest in RVs. The cheap plastic components break and the off-gassing from glue, and carpets are not a healthy choices.
Never buy any rig that has been in an accident. That is dangerous.
In this granny’s opinion, the best deal/avenue to nomad life is finding an RV roughly ten years old.
Fancy parks require rigs newer than the ten-year mark. So people upgrade.
Get to know your RV dealers. Tell them what you are looking for. If they can sell something without having to service, detail, and advertise, they will be happy to keep an eye out for you.
Also, get to know the mobile home dealers. People trade in RVs for mobile homes. I have been in the real estate industry for 20 years. I know some secrets.
It’s still best to find an ugly rig. They are always the cheapest. Paint alone is magical!
Consider your budget and time availability.
If gutting and building out a bus is not your jam, no sweat, you can buy partial and fully converted buses! They are more expensive, but you may find one that the owner had to abandon mid-build that you can customize to your needs. Remember, every time you need someone else to work on your rig, you can ruin your budget with motels, showers, and eating out (no place to cook). So if you have minimal skills, you can get away with a little RV or van. I have seen magic done with paint inside and outside. Get creative and make it yours. A glue gun and staples are pretty much all you need.
I believe we will start seeing buses that have basic build-outs. Ones that are ready for the consumer to finish the inside. We found our 90% converted bus on Facebook Marketplace, one of many places you can look to buy a bus. We paid $15K. This was perfect for us. The prior owner had nearly everything we required. Therefore we would just remodel it. *We should have hired our builder first with thorough research. Trusting costs us dearly. A lesson we now honor.
Our budget was $50K. We are so over budget. We have lost track and pray we sell a ton of CBD!
Beautiful bus builds are nearly $100K, so having a gutted bus and you do the finish-work might be an option that works for the masses.
Where to start…. Below is a list of the bus sales sites I have found:
Let me know if you buy your bus from one of these sites or find a new one. I’d love to keep the list going. If you discover the company is no longer in business (since COVID). I will update the list.
https://www.brandxsales.com/buses-for-sale-B100003 (phone number: 775-220-7000)
https://naturalstatebuses.com/ Bus sales in Arkansas – Call Dustin (860) 884-7009
Ronaldo has great buses stretching from New York to Charlotte, N.C. Give him a call at 718-200- 1742
Wolf Creek Bus Sales out of Wolf Creek, Oregon. The bus initially came from Utah.
https://classiccarsbay.com/gmc-bluebird-bus-512421 (Hippies, gypsies, and flower children automatically receive a $500 discount on any bus in inventory that does not already have that discount, this particular bus already has that discount applied.)
Pictures of Lavina after we gutted her.
We camped for ten days @skooliepalooza 2022 it was life-changing. If you are “made for more” in life. You might be a nomad. If you can attend any event @desendonbend or any build put on by @HOWA found on @meetup. It will show you why 300 people a month are buying school buses in Arizona (Source: Prompt Title & Registration-AZ)
We are waiting for you!
Love and Light-Alli & Alan