Inspiration for this season of Thanksgiving in America

Tree houses are so 18th century, but buses being converted into dream homes on wheels are the latest way to keep life moving forward. We’d like to share some exciting information on a shuttle bus being transformed into a home. With so many individuals, couples and families with pets wishing to have the outdoorsy life, it is the ultimate in road residency. Imagine, like parking your ‘mobile home’ on the beach, at a ranch, or in a quiet rural town. And of course, cruise the highways and take the ultimate road trip that America has to offer. We are not far away from this season’s Thanksgiving. Feel like moving out of the brick and mortar habitats? This feature is packed with exciting tips and information to be winter-ready with an elegant nest on wheels. It could be the most memorable Thanksgiving time for the family, other than keeping healthy and being socially distant.

If you are bored with typical ‘out of box ideas’, we take you inside the box…bus. To be exact a shuttle bus which is the latest vehicle available for purchase to make a house! Step into your brand-new unique home with fascinating ways to furnish and live out your dream.


Source: free google image A couple enjoying the completion of their shuttle bus conversion.

Life story of a bus & its retirement

Who would have thought that a bus is merely a functional vehicle to ferry people, children and patients from one destination to another? In their lifespan, most buses or even a single van has limited measures of utility. Folks see it as the idyllic channel for long journeys, trips out of town or weekend picnics at the most. Few wonder what happens to a shuttle bus or a mini bus when it comes of retirement age. The junkyard is the final destination, which is inevitable. But some people bring it out, scratch the rust, rip the seats, clean it and make it into a kitchen on wheels or a new home as the current trend goes. The fact that more buses are being seen as ideal locations for tiny homes, a new bus for sale is being seen in an entirely different perspective. Whether it is a 14 passenger mini bus or a tour bus fitting 20 passengers, it can be transformed into a cool nest on wheels. Creative conversions have become the new trend as several dealers receive enquiries.

Why are people interested in buying a shuttle bus for sale in the first place?

  • “Necessity is the mother of all inventions.” And when unemployment hits a family, it can be hard. But ingenuity and creativity can turn adversities of life into a genius phase. This was one reason a Colorado suburban resident opted for moving out of the rental home. He reinvested the savings to buy a bus. He converted it into a tiny home for his 3-year-old son and wife.
  • An architectural student’s project that requires individual expression to make a unique home.
  • A young girl’s yearning to ‘fly off the nest’ and spread her wings in Seattle is equally interesting to note. She actually took her father’s help to search for a bus for sale to do up the interiors and other stuff to live off the bus!
  • A travel blogger who needed a mobile home. He named it Navi and also has a roof deck to boost off.

Of course there are many other people who have decided to make a bus into a comfortable home. With bus conversion services, it is quite easy to buy a shuttle bus and get going. First, you need to choose the vehicle. This is a challenging exercise without the help of experienced people who deal in such automobiles for sale. The process can take up to a year if you are on your own. It is also important to check why the bus has been retired.


Source: Free Google image: A ford e-series under construction for a stationary home

What is a bus conversion?

A typical bus conversion project involves buying a shuttle bus or an old school bus into a recreation vehicle. As part of the home transformation the seats are removed and the shell of the vehicle undergoes changes. To make it a home cooking, bedroom and a living room space is added.

Due diligence for the project

Sure go on the internet to see the kind of motors, school buses and vans available for conversions. The best place to start would be looking at dealers online who have a large inventory.

Quick Tip: Look up a shuttle bus that has more space to offer. It could be a 15 passenger or 20 passenger seating capacity. While browsing, consider checking out inventory of Nation Bus dealers offering a variety of even new models for conversion.

What do you need to figure out in advance?

  1. Timelines, budget (especially for conversions). You will need patience as sometimes the conversion hits a roadblock!
  2. Low mileage vehicle with a good engine and wheelies.
  3. Overall condition of the vehicle for lesser elbow grease!
  4. Tools for building interiors – Would you borrow or buy? Keep in mind that you may need specific tools for future projects, maintenance and even road repairs.
  5. Would you prefer to approach a builder with experience to do the project in case you lack the skill set would be
  6. Make a sketch of the interiors and facilities required.
  7. Make a list of patch work required like metal work, welding and amount of rust to be scrapped.

The most important point: Where will you park the vehicle while the project is in progress? The building phase will throw up a lot of garbage. It will have to be accessible near a garage to stow away the tools after the day’s work. You may need a generator back up, water and enough space to work in peace. There may be times when you would have to park it in the driveway of a compassionate friend or neighbor!


Source: Free google image: parking space for conversion and construction

Brass tacks to further consider 

After you have chosen the vehicle, for example, a tour bus with wheelchair access, you may wish to have this extra feature removed. It eats away the space. A shuttle bus has plenty of convenience to make your conversion project a success. Make a comprehensive list that will include provision for:

  1. Carpentry
  2. Plumbing
  3. Welding
  4. Comfortable space to drive
  5. Electrical fittings and other auxiliary and solar systems for functioning
  6. Mechanical stuff to fit for the mobile home.
  7. Tires
  8. Registration
  9. Insurance for the bus
  10. AAA coverage

Depending on your ultimate goals, you can choose the bus size and type for your needs according to the above.

Bus Insurance, licenses and other FAQs

Each state differs in rules regarding commercial driving licenses (CDL) for RVs, and skoolies that are converted into mobile homes. If you have registered it as a personal vehicle for use, there is no need for the CDL. Check with the dealer before buying if a special license for air brake certification will be required. Depending on the weight of the vehicle it be considered and the state in which it is purchased. Opt for a professional driving license to ensure that you are not driving illegally through any state.

For example, in Georgia, a couple opted for a 34-feet bus with a turbo diesel engine. They bought the bus, re-registered it as a ‘motorhome’ in Florida. They also got private insurance done, so they did not have to apply for another CDL. In fact, the couple had no problem even doing parallel parking despite ‘driving their home.’ The bus they chose had heavy air brakes weighing almost 10 tons.

Their advice to new buyers of a bus for sale: Go slow, a vehicle like a shuttle bus is large. While driving you need to be careful. If you are experienced there will be no jamming experience on the road.


Source: Free Google image: Minimal bath tub and shower in a mobile home

The insurance company will consider the following specifications for coverage. The mobile home should have:

  1. Appliances like a refrigerator, heating and air conditioning.
  2. Bathroom facilities.
  3. Cooking range for a functional kitchen.
  4. Water supply for drinking and other purposes
  5. Power supply of minimum 110 to 125 volts.

Important note: If the process is a DIY project then there is no insurance. However, if a professional service provider is involved in the conversion then the bus can be ensured.

Should you have any doubts, it is also good to talk to an agent who can give guidance on the clauses applicable in certain states. There are other nitty-gritties that matter and the agent will ask:

  1. Age of the vehicle and if it is mechanically okay for road trips. A tour bus is more likely to get an insurance compared to a school bus as it has been used commercially.
  2. The make of the model is important for overall coverage. A lesser used shuttle bus with a capacity of 15 passengers or 20 passengers also could meet the requirement criteria under some clauses.
  3. If the vehicle is more than 20 years old, then there is no insurance.
  4. Insurers will also check for manual or automatic transmission before an appraisal.

Final considerations:  Ask for coverage for liability, collisions, damage from fire and theft, towing and breakdowns.


Source: Free google image; Ford shuttle bus E450 being used as a motor home

Cost of the bus 

It all depends on the size, year of the make and the condition of the vehicle. Many people prefer to choose an original passenger van or a mini bus online. The conversion costs can be between USD 13,500 to USD 15,000 which will be inclusive of taxes.

A couple in Washington choose a bus that was listed on Craigslist for sale for $6,000. They also haggled and got the bus for $5,250. They wisely decided not to register the vehicle as the conversion would take a couple of months. They did not have to invest in parking charges, construction and workshop as their parents supported the decision and allowed them to build their motorhome from their space.

Tip: If you find a friend who could lend the space, you can save a huge amount of money. Set the same aside to do interiors and other important things for the conversion project.

There are other costs to factor when making the budget. You may need to make several trips to the hardware store or the mall to get the tools and other stuff like paints, nails, screws, beams and brackets. Set aside at least $2000 for it. If you plan to cook and need a kitchen platform, space for storage, deep freeze, make provision for it in the budget. Other mandatory things required include a sink, faucet, water tank/pump, heaters and inlet hatch. Most people struggle to add a composting toilet and shower stall. But this is a necessary expense. Think about adding an awning, electricity controller panel, batteries, inverters and solar panels.

Epic home comforts and decorations costs 

After the main work has been done, epic comforts are entirely up to the owners. Add the touch of elegance and decorate it according to your needs. Cushions, futons, beds, pillows, wall hangings for storage in the bathroom and an organized kitchen can be considered. A celebrity who turns a tour bus into a small home cum office has the following impressive floor plans.

A secret: An ideal mobile home is divided into 4 sections. It includes an elegant front lounge for socializing with the family, entourage and occasional guests. A kitchen that serves delectable gourmet meals. It has high tech controls for microwave, ovens and kitchen equipment. Comfy bed bunks to retire after a long stretch of work. A back lounge adds to the beauty of the bus conversion. It has a surround sound music system for movies and television. And what’s a mobile luxury home without a bathroom?  


Source: free google image; sneak peak into a luxury mobile home

There are ways to save money too and avoid big ticket costs. A DIY conversion plan is the safest and cheapest. However, first-time owners definitely need assistance and support – right from choosing the bus for sale to getting the project complete.

Big warning: Even after you have spent your fortune for the tiny house on wheels, the expenses will not stop. Being on the road is not easy. There are repair costs, maintenance and annual registrations to consider.

In the end: A home is a home, no matter where it is made. As long as you have a secure roof over your head… be it a retro-fitted one in a bus, it’s all about thanking your stars. This season before Thanksgiving, use this bright idea to smile and be close to your family. And for everything else, re-read this information to make a wonderful nest on wheels.