Advantages to buying a bus over traditional motorhome

The Advantages and Disadvantages to Buying a Bus

In 2009, we bought our first school bus and converted it into our tiny house on wheels. We lived in it full-time while we traveled the United States. You can tour our first bus here. 

Then in 2011, we sold our bus and bought a travel trailer with a slide out. We remodeled it to fit our large family and started traveling again. This time we didn’t travel for long before one of our children started having some problems. We returned home and sold our travel trailer. Why you might ask? Well, it wasn’t because we thought we would not ever travel again! The reason we sold it was because the travel trailer didn’t compare to the bus. The bus felt like home. It was made to suit us!

Here are the advantages and disadvantages that we found to buying a bus.


1. Our bus had more living space for less money than our travel trailer.

When Jeff had the idea of buying a bus, I wasn’t crazy about it to say the least! So, I searched for a motorhome or travel trailer to fit our large family. Let me tell you, to find one that I didn’t have to break down a table or extend a couch for someone to sleep on was way out of our budget. I am talking like $100,000 out of our budget.

Our first bus costs a total of around $5,500 and fit all of us comfortably.

2. Our bus had more storage space.

When Jeff designed our first bus, he made sure we had adequate storage for all our clothes, Katie’s supplies, all of our homeschool books/materials and a fully stocked kitchen. We had enough storage that I didn’t have to go to the store for dry goods for 2 weeks. We even had a laundry shoot!

Not only did we have plenty of storage space, the storage space was located where we needed it. Jeff was able to customize the bus to fit our needs. With 7 children and 2 adults living in a small space,  having more customize-able storage space was a huge advantage.

3. Buses are safer than motor homes.

Jeff and I both felt that a bus was much safer for us as we traveled across the US. You know, they are designed to transport kids to and from school safely.

Buses are built strong and sturdy. Tank like!

4. It is easier to find someone to work on a bus.

If you are traveling in a bus and you have a mechanical issue, you don’t have to find a local RV repair person. You can pull into any truck stop and most of the time the diesel mechanic on duty can fix the problem and you will be on your way.

Also, we have found that local school bus maintenance shops are willing to give a hand along with advice.

5. Buses are customizable.

Yes, this advantage is a no-brainier!  For us, this is the best advantage! As a family with a special needs child, we needed the ability to make Katie her own space that would be able to contain her medical equipment within easy access.

It is important to me that we have an organized bus because I don’t like tripping on things or wasting time looking for something. When Jeff, built our first bus, as well as, our second bus he put the walls, outlets, and cabinets exactly where I needed them in-order-to optimize the space efficiently.  You can see how he does this in these videos.

Here are 5 advantages to converting a bus into a RV/Home.Click To Tweet



1. Our First Bus lacked some comforts.

Our first bus didn’t have a master bedroom, shower on the inside, or stove. Jeff and I slept on the couches up front. These will not be a disadvantages on our second bus. Our second bus will have full bathroom in the master bedroom, full kitchen and all the advantages as before.

Our travel trailer cost us $9,000 and the kids had to share an area. Jeff and I did have a master bedroom. It had a full kitchen and bathroom with a slide-out. ( Some may see this point as an advantage.) We didn’t because our kids were ages 3-15 boys and girls. They needed a girls area and a boys area. The travel trailer didn’t give them the extra room they needed. So, we spent more money for less living area.

2. Some RV Parks will not allow Skoolies.

When making reservations for an RV Park, we have been told that they didn’t allow Skoolies. We didn’t find this to be a problem in National Parks or State Parks. If you are considering staying in RV parks more than national parks or state parks, you might not want to make a Skoolie your RV.

Helpful hint: When a RV park welcomes you, please be a good representation of the Skoolie community. This way the owners are more willing to continue to allow Skoolies in the future.

We found a great RV Park in Texas that was more than willing for us to stay. Here is the link if you are in TX and want to stay in an RV Park.

Here is the direct link to Silver Wind RV Park  if you are interested in checking them out.

3. A Bus ceiling height is shorter than a motor home.

In most buses the inside ceiling height is between 72-76 inches. This would pose a problem if you are taller than 6 feet. I have seen some people on  raise the roof on their bus.

The only problem we have encountered with this disadvantage is that I wanted a stackable washer and dryer and the one I chose was too tall.


Would these disadvantages stop you from buying a bus to convert into a RV?Click To Tweet


As you can see, we think buying a school bus and converting it into a RV/home has more advantages than disadvantages.

What do you think? Do you agree with us? Tell us in the comments. Let us know what you think are some advantages and disadvantages to a bus verses a motor home or travel trailer.




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  1. Dan June 12, 2016 at 6:18 am - Reply

    Have you thought about lowering the floor to fit a stackable washer and dryer? I figure you could make a recessed square for the bottom appliance to sit in, to reduce the overall height.

    • discoveringus June 15, 2016 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Dan, That is a great idea! I will do some research and see if it would be an option that we are interested in doing. Have you ever tackle lowering the floor in a bus before? Would love to hear your thought if so. – Missy

      • Dan June 16, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

        I have not done it, but I used to do custom electronics installs in cars and we did recessed floors in a few cars. All you would need to do is figure out how far you would need to recess the washer, and have someone who can weld fabricate a reinforced box that sets the washer lower than the floor height. It would take some planning to find a spot to recess that won’t impeed anything under the bus. Good luck if yoy decide to try it!

        Fab something like this with the right dimensions and some sheet metal:

  2. Lori Taylor August 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Just bought a Blue Bird today and the guy I’m working with is raising the floor to the level of the wheel wells, and installing all the plumbing, tanks and insulation in the floor, and raising the roof level 15″. That way, you’re working with a level floor, no bumps to navigate, and you have additional height also!

    • discoveringus August 1, 2016 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      Lori, EXCITING!! Congratulations!! We haven’t raised a roof as of yet. Keep me up-to-date on your progress. I would love to see pics. I am in the process of starting a FB group. 4 wheels and a Bra, you are welcome to join and we can chat about bus stuff. You can even post your pics. Here is the link if you are interested.

  3. Gilbert September 27, 2016 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Hello Lori, if at all possible, I would love to have any link to any website that would show me how to raise the roof of a school bus. I’m seriously considering purchasing one soon, and with 6ft to the top of my head, I would love to raise the roof when I customize the bus into an RV.

    And thanks again

  4. Sherri December 27, 2016 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    Hi, I had been considering buying a short bus. My main concern, an a single female in the aging category, is the condition of the engine because, of course, it will be an aging school bus with many miles on it. Any suggestions or reassurances??

    • discoveringus December 30, 2016 at 1:33 am - Reply

      Hi Sherri,
      Let me start by saying, “YOU CAN DO THIS!” I have a FB Group just for women who travel in a school bus or mode of transportation. There are several women in the “aging category” and many single women. We would love to have you. Here is the link if you are interested.

  5. Dan M January 8, 2017 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Do you have tone have a CDL license to drive your school bus?

    • discoveringus January 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Dan,

      The “Do you have to have a CDL to drive a school bus?” is a popular question. So popular in fact, that I am writing a post about it soon. The short answer is “yes” if your bus is not retitled to a motorhome. If it is a motorhome, the short answer “no” but some states require extra endorsements. Keep checking back on the blog for the CDL post or sign up to get our emails and you will be notified. Hope this helps.

  6. Rick April 2, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

    People call me “doubting thomas”. I doubt there’s anyway in heaven that u did or will change ur fuel mileage from 8 to 16 mpg. Still, I’d like to read about changes that were made, and the results.

    • discoveringus April 6, 2017 at 12:32 am - Reply

      Rick, I read back over this post and didn’t see fuel mileage mentioned. Please tell me where you read about the fuel mileage. I want to be sure it is correct. Since we have had 3 buses, I want to know which one you are referring to. Then I can share about the “changes that were made and the results”.

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