There are lots of ways to start a life living on the road in a recreational vehicle. There are motorhomes, travel trailers, and 5th wheels. If you go the motorhome route you can get different classes, different fuel types, and different engine placements. There are cab-overs, super C’s, and pushers. And then there are buses. You can buy a shorty school bus, a long school bus, or a coach bus (think Greyhound or Charter bus). When you’re talking bus, you can get one with the seats still in it, one already converted to an RV, or one in the middle of conversion in various stages. And that’s all before you’re ready buy your vehicle.
Once you figure out what you want to buy, you then have to find the actual vehicle. There are craigslist ads and posts on the Facebook marketplaces. RVTrader.com, RVT.com, and one or two other online sellers. There are the very few dealerships that don’t sell online, usually conveniently lined up next to each other on the Inter-State. Then there are auctions, eBay being only one example.
Since you most likely caught the headline, it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out which route we took. We know we’re going to be out on the road for at least two years, and when we come back “home” to a S&B (that would be RV-speak for a sticks and bricks home as opposed to one on wheels) we most likely will keep the RV and be the opposite of snow birds — traveling to get away from these brutal Texas summers. So we want something that will last.
If any of you know me personally, you know I love to research, and as soon as we realized that we were doing this, I started researching. First thing I learned: never buy new. New motorhomes are built fast, cheap, and pretty. So we started looking at 15 – 20 year old rigs, significantly expanding our options due to the cheaper price. Then we started looking at skoolies — RV speak for converted school buses. A skoolie would mean a super cheap purchase now with an investment of a large chunk of time to work on it. Most school buses require a roof raise to be comfortable for a tall person (Bryan) to live in it. It’s not all that complicated, but it’s a lot of work and effort and we weren’t sure about it. Plus, not a lot of storage in a school bus.
Then I came across coach bus conversions. And wow. Think about that last charter bus trip you were on. 50 people on the bus and there is room under it for everyone to store a suitcase. This is road living I can deal with! I will steadfastly say that I am not a hoarder (especially in the “reality” TV sense), but I have significant pack-rat tendencies. I still own almost every book I’ve ever bought, and used bookstores are one of my two favorite stores to shop in. I don’t mind putting almost everything in storage, but knowing that I can take more than we originally thought is exciting! I should have been a scout; I like to be prepared. I keep a spare set of clothing in the back of my car in case I get stranded — never have, but it could happen. Living in a bus is like having the ultimate swiss army knife!!
Sorry, this post is getting a little out of hand with the length. I will try to do better (bwahahahahahaha).
So to make a long story short (too late, I know) we started looking for buses. The good thing about coaches is that they have engines and transmissions that are designed to handle 1 million+ miles. Unless the bus has been a church bus (committees are not really that great at maintenance, sadly), chances are pretty good that you’ve got something that’s going to last several years with good maintenance. Also, you’ve got bones that are designed to take a lot of damage and hold integrity, which motorhomes, especially new ones, just can’t do.
Google led me to looking at auctions, and an equipment and recycling company that was auctioning off a 1980 Eagle bus that had been converted some time in it’s history to a motorhome, and dang, did it look cool. I mean, aside from the peeling pink paint and dings and rust. Unfortunately, the bus was in Georgia and we’re in Texas, so going to do an inspection was out of the question expense wise. There was a video of it running, plus, the starting bid was $100. We figured if we could get it for half of what a running bus would usually cost, we’d be okay. Neither of us have ever bid on anything other than some random items on eBay, but we’d watched a similar bus go through the same auction company, and thought we might have a chance. Most buses that actually run are in the price range of $10,000 when listed for sale. We budgeted for half of that, and prayed… and watched the auction: a 36 hour process. The price steadily increased, and was over $3,000 at the last hour.
If you’ve ever bought any desirable item on eBay, you know that the last hour is usually when things get interesting. I got tense and put in a bid too soon, which needlessly drove up the price. So we backed off. And waited until just before the last minute to bid again, and we were quickly outbid. At this site, unlike eBay, any bid placed in the last minute adds another 40 seconds to the process, so next I waited until there was 15 seconds left, put in another bid and held my breath for 40 seconds. I watched that clock tick down, counting the seconds to Bryan (who was on the phone with me because he’d had an early morning meeting)… And there it was: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… You have WON the auction!!! And just like that, we own a BUS!
We own a bus that we have never even seen. Thankfully, even if it takes a whole lot of work and needs the engine rebuilt, and/or the transmission rebuilt, it’s still a bargain at $4,300. The mechanic for the equipment lot assures us (we spoke after the auction, and as he said, he had no reason to sell us on a bus we’ve already bought) that it’s in great driving condition, other than needing new tires, which we gathered from the pictures.
So, I’ll say it again, because we’ve said it to each other about every ten minutes or so since the auction finished, WE OWN A BUS!