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What is a Skoolie?

Tiny and simple living is one of the new homeownership trends. It’s a concept of minimalism, drawing in those who have an interest in staying off the grid. A skoolie is a type of home that banks on this simplicity.

Skoolies are school buses that are renovated to look like houses. The inside looks like an RV or camping bus. They have several additions like air conditioning, refrigerators, and many more to embody the basics of simple living.

If you want to know more about the skoolie, stick on as I dig deeper into this form of going off-grid.


Why are skoolies popular?

If you have been all eyes on the roads, you may have come across a bus that resembles a school bus, but looks more like an RV. The only giveaway that it was a school bus is its shape, some features, and maybe a hint of the signature yellow coat.

If you have come across such a spectacle, there is a high chance you spotted a skoolie. The skoolie concept has been around for many years, though it is gaining a lot of mainstream appeal due to social media’s influence.

Many minimalists document their skoolie creations and modifications on platforms like Pinterest and YouTube, where they gain followers who have an interest in simple living.

A skoolie banks on upcycling, which is the creative use of waste products, in this case, school buses. Once the school buses are past their serving time, schools dispose of them and get new ones, possibly to provide a safe means of transport to school-going children.

The dumped buses are the art canvas for interested parties, who convert them to houses on wheels.


How much does a skoolie cost?

You may decide to forego the lengthy process of looking for an old bus and going through the renovation process and instead buy an already made skoolie.

How much does a skoolie cost? When you look at these minimalist homes’ online listings, you will find that they range from $10000 to excesses of $200000 for the high-end creations.

Several factors play a role in the pricing, like the size, the styling, condition, and many more.

The high-end models come with executive features like standout entertainment systems, robotics, and modifications to the engine for a smooth ride. They are also quite spacious, and once inside, you feel as if you are flying on a private jet.

Some of them find use in the touring business, where you pay to have a trip in them, and a driver takes you to preferred destinations. The cheaper ones have a simple outlook, where you will find basic furnishing like seats, water installations, and maybe an air conditioning unit.

When you go for affordable creations, you may need to put in more work to reach the desired standards. If you plan on traveling on it, you should check on the engine’s state and other parts, and if possible, take it for a test ride to look at its performance.

A point to note is that there are stationary and moving skoolies. Stationery skoolies function more like trailer homes, while the former is like a recreation vehicle.


Where to buy a skoolie

There are several listing sites where you will come across skoolies that you can buy:

Let your budget and preferences guide you to get the right home on wheels.


How much does it cost to build a skoolie?

Many minimalists and DIY enthusiasts prefer building skoolies from scratch, where they bring on their artistry and home design knowledge to create a simple home. The first step in building a skoolie is getting a grounded school bus to use for the project.

You may get a decent one in car junkyards, though you have to thoroughly inspect it to be sure that it is in great shape. You may also go for the ones on disposal by schools. Most of the time, the ones on disposal from schools are in excellent condition, and you can get one from $3000 to $6000.

The cost of building a skoolie will include the price of the bus, labor, and the installations you fit. The total cost may be around $10000 for a simple skoolie to $50000 for a luxurious build.

Some of the factors that determine the cost of a used school bus include its size, state, and also who is selling it to you. Building the skoolie is a fun activity, where you start by stripping the seats and other fittings to create ample space to set your living space.

If you do not have experience in carpentry and other body works, you can ask for help from professionals.

At times, you may have to expand the body by lifting the roof. This will create more space for installations like an air conditioning unit and ceiling.


Is it better to buy a skoolie or buy one?

It’s a matter of taste and preference when looking at which option to pick between building and buying.

Building allows you to explore your artistry and bring to life the work of your hands. It is a fulfilling activity, which requires immense patience. It may take a lot of time, and you may need to break the bank to sort out some construction costs occasionally.

The good thing is that the home on wheels will come out as you desire.

Buying is a great option that eliminates the waiting time and frustrations of building a skoolie from scratch. The main downside of buying is that it might be quite expensive, or you may get something that is not your top preference.


Can I use a new bus for a skoolie?

Yes, you can use a new bus to build your skoolie, though it might do away with the essence of upcycling. A new bus is quite expensive, at around $50000, which is the same price as a decently built skoolie on sale.

Many minimalists will opt for used buses because they are cheaper. The affordability is due to some of them not being roadworthy or having several parts spoilt or missing.

The low price tag for school buses is because they are on disposal as they may not be ideal for school transport. Perfect school buses need to be of a high standard, especially on safety.


What are the best buses to convert?

This is a question many enthusiasts struggle with as they look for the ideal models to convert to minimalist homes. Most school buses have a conventional design, with the frontal engine orientation.

These buses tick the boxes of durability, space, and ease of conversion, though they are challenging to maneuver.

Then there are the transit style buses, which may have a frontal, mid, or rear engine orientation. They are easy to convert and are also spacious. Some will come with installations like a refrigerator or an air conditioning system.

The minor problem with the transit-style buses, according to DIY purists, is that the conversion will look more like an RV instead of a skoolie. The good thing is that it will serve you perfectly as a home on wheels.


What are skoolies for?

There are several things you can do with a converted skoolie. The typical option is using it as your home. It is an excellent way of going off-grid, and you can also use it for camping, with the skoolie being an incredible version of an RV.

One of the perks you get from a skoolie is its spaciousness, compared to most camper vans or recreation vehicles.

You can also use your skoolie for business. You might come across some conversions that work like shops on wheels, with the shop owner having a residing space in the vehicle.

You can go the extra mile and use it as a vacation rental unit, where you give other people a chance to go off-grid and know how it feels to live on the road.

They are suitable for touring purposes, where they give patrons a chance of site-seeing in luxury, primarily if you have a high-end skoolie model. In short, the skoolie is a versatile vehicle that you can use for many purposes.


Final thoughts

If you are into minimalism and the simple way of living, there is a high probability that you have thought about skoolies. They are unique creations, a great way of upcycling, and give life to disposed school buses. They function the same way as recreation vehicles, but they may be quite spacious and have an artistic leaning.

This piece introduces you to the concept of skoolies, looking at aspects such as buying, building, and how to use it. It is an excellent way of living, where you appreciate simple living and going off-grid. This is a project to consider if you are an avid DIY’er.

If you learned something from this article, feel free to check out my other content on skoolies!