Where to buy a school bus

Skoolie, Van, Coach, or RV? Which One Should We Choose?

This is the story about how we come to decide on a Skoolie, van, coach, or RV.  About 6 years ago, when we first thought about going tiny we were looking at yurts, RVs, tiny homes, container homes, etc. 

We still had kids at home so we were looking, and had time to research all the different ways people live tiny and travel.

This involved lots of Youtube! 

About a year or two later, our friends sold everything and moved into an RV for a year! This was so exciting so we began watching RV videos on YouTube.

We binged watch those RV videos!

RV channels on Youtube every day! Over the next several weeks we watched videos so much that we had no time to watch regular tv! We had been bitten!

One night after watching an RV video, the suggested video to watch next showed a school bus conversion. 

Our eyes widened as we looked at each other! This was COOL! 

We loved that the bus was made of steel instead of fiberglass or whatever RVs are made of. Also, we loved the variety of shapes and sizes buses came in. 

We were excited about the personalization and customizations we could do and most of all, the buses were affordable to purchase and we could pay for the build as we went. 

No debt, we DID NOT WANT TO GO INTO DEBT to create our traveling home. 

We began researching about skoolies. At first, we thought we needed as much room as we could get. We were downsizing from over 1500 sq ft, so maybe we needed something bigger than a bus?

Don started thinking about the idea of buying an old coach like an MCI, or Van Hool that was 45 ft long!

I, on the other hand, went to the opposite extreme and started talking about a Van. I liked the size of the vans, the stealthiness, and the fuel mileage.

We were totally opposite!

At this time, it was too extreme for Don to think about living in a van, and I was not into getting a giant bus that was 45 ft long so we went back to look at the skoolie idea again! 

We thought, what is a good compromise? 

Should we look at getting a short skoolie? 

What size would be good for us? 

It was a huge undertaking to even think about going to something that was 200 sq ft. Having never even been in a skoolie, we decided it would be best to actually go see some and tour them! 

The United Tiny House Festival was coming up soon and they said they would have some skoolies there. So we took the day and drove up to St. Augustine to check out skoolies in person for the first time! 

There were around 8 skoolies there that day and 2 of those were bare-bones, meaning they had not begun building yet. They were literally camping out inside their bus which we thought was awesome!

This was just what we needed to see and experience to push us all in on the skoolie idea! You could do anything with these buses! Our minds were open to all of the possibilities. 

Our first skoolie friends lived in Orlando. We met them through Instagram and made plans to drive the hour away to meet them and see how they liked living in their skoolie.

These guys were a delight and we are so glad we met! 

They had a vintage Bluebird Wanderlodge with tons of character.  They tried to sway us in the Bluebird Wanderlodge direction.   We were a little concerned with the age of the mechanics and felt like that might be a little more money than we want to spend compared to a regular old school bus.

So, now we knew we wanted a bus, but what kind? So many styles and choices! 

I loved the look of the dog nose buses and Don loved the look of the flat nose buses. To him, the flat nose had a hint of that MCI or Van Hool look he so admired.

At the end of the day, I didn’t really care. 

Meanwhile, our new friends went to work looking online for the perfect bus for us!


Wait a minute now, I almost forgot to tell you, we were thinking this project was still two years away! 

What are we doing looking for buses now?

Well, turns out, we realized it will take some time to do this project, probably 2 years or more.   Especially since we work full time, so maybe we could look now and get the ball rolling for the future. 

Our new friend, Morgan, found a 31 ft flat nose Thomas bus in Tampa on Facebook Marketplace and Don was in love! 

He loved the caterpillar-looking mirrors and the length seemed perfect for us! 

We reached out to the people and it had just sold! 

What a blow!
This is important to keep in mind when you are looking for a used school bus.   They will sell and you may have to go back to the drawing board to start your search over many times!

So, back to Google, we went.  We knew the specs of the bus we lost in Tampa. We knew the words to search for a bus just like it, so that is what we did!

This is a maze of information to sift through, but with this new info, we could dial it down.  Low and behold, I found a similar bus on eBay!

Through that listing on eBay, they had a link to a craigslist ad for more buses. 

In THAT listing there was a google sheets link to a list of over 60 buses! We felt like we hit the jackpot! 

Sure enough, we found the bus that would ultimately become our tiny house on wheels, Caroline.  

Sweet Caroline indeed!

Wrap Up To Skoolie, Van, Coach, or RV

Choosing a skoolie, van, coach, or RV was a lot of processing.  There are some positives to each type of camping and nomadic vehicle.  In the end, though, it just had to be a skoolie. 

For us, there are just too many positive variables of a skoolie.  The safety along with their unique look, personality, and different sizes are what put us over the edge.

Although we sold our first skoolie and purchased and built our Sprinter van, we are going right back to the vehicle it all started in.  

We never thought we would build another school bus.  Here we are though.  We can’t wait to share what we end up with.  Some things will be much different than our first bus, and some will be similar.  

We wrote about what we want to do differently in this post, Our Next Skoolie Will Be Different.  Let us know what you think. 

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