The best 11 things about living in a school bus from Don's perspective. Not everything is always peaches and cream, but life certainly has changed living in a school bus for me!
For sure, my life has changed living in a school bus. Aside from the obvious though, it has been more of a spiritual journey and change than anything else. This is about how my life has changed living in a school bus.
When you do something as extreme as working a corporate job, living in a 4 bedroom, two-bath house in a neighborhood with an HOA, and living life on a schedule based on people's needs to live in a DIY converted school bus, things are going to change.
I would have never imagined how my life has changed since living in a skoolie the way that it has.
I mean, how could it not change? It is a wonder that I didn’t crash from so much change so quickly!
The truth and secret to it though are that I (we) have been planning and preparing for this for a few years to make the drastic change in lifestyle.
It all started as a conversation between Nat and me about what we wanted to do once the kids were gone.
We knew we didn’t want to feel stuck in Merritt Island for another 30-plus years.
I want to share some of the ways my life has changed living in a skoolie.
Showers & Hygiene – Living In A School Bus
Before Nat and I moved into a school bus, it was two showers a day for the most part. A shower in the morning was a given. It wasn’t even a real day if I didn’t get a shower first thing.
Depending on what I did that day, a shower before bed was also a given. You just sleep better and of course, your bedsheets don’t need to be washed as often.
Taking a 20 to 30-minute hot shower was not even a thought. I just did it. Let the hot water run over my shoulders for a good 3 to five minutes before washing my bits and pieces.
Now, living in a skoolie, water is more of a commodity than something I only think about once a month when we would pay the water bill.
Water is almost sacred. Waste not, want not.
When you have a finite supply of water, you tend to appreciate and guard it much closer. Showers are now “stop and go”.
Get in and get wet.
Turn the water off.
Soap up and wash up.
Turn the water on and rinse off.
Turn the water off and BOOM, all done with my shower.
I am still getting used to the fact that I do not shower every day now. It was very hard to get used to at first, but now, going on three years of living a nomadic lifestyle in a DIY conversion vehicle, I have become quite accustomed to it.
I know when a shower is needed, and when it is not. Just as before when we lived in a house and had city water plumbing. If I wanted or needed a shower before bed, I would take one.
Same thing as for now. Now, however, I am a bit more decisive if I feel like I really need one. When we want to take a nice long hot shower, we just find a Planet Fitness and take advantage of that membership.
Down Time & Entertainment – Living In A School Bus
My downtime and entertainment have changed.
I don’t play video games on my Xbox One as often. Do not watch television hardly at all anymore. The best one though, going to “town” or shopping is something we do as a necessity and not to pass the time anymore.
More Minimal – Living In A School Bus
Living in a skoolie with less than 200 square feet will teach you hard and fast how to live minimally.
By the way, living minimally is more of a mindset than it is a physical thing. We have friends who are living in a school bus and some who live in a van and have to purge their belongings every six to 12 months. They are continuously buying stuff they don’t need.
I know what it means to live in excess. Over 10 pairs of tennis shoes, clothes I have never worn, and 6 different Star Wars Force FX authentic and licensed replica lightsabers.
Yea, I know how to spend money and know how to collect shit I really don’t need.
One of the biggest ways my life changed living in a school bus is that I am content with less. In fact, I am more than content, I am happier with less.
It doesn’t take much to keep you happy when your mind is stimulated, challenged, engaged, and satisfied. Living in a school bus will certainly teach you that!
Traveling More Living In A School Bus
One of the things Nat and I talked about when we started to consider an alternative life to living in a house is that we wanted to travel more. A lot more!
We have both seen more of Europe than we have right here in the United States. (by the way, our European skoolie tour is in the planning….stay tuned)
So, we decided we want to see what this country truly has to offer us with its natural beauty. So many things we want to experience still that neither of us has.
Just in the last couple of years of traveling, my life has changed while living in a school bus. We have seen and experienced so much.
We have walked to the edge of Niagra Falls, stood next to a saguaro cactus in Arizona, driven through a blizzard in Colorado, and driven through wooden-covered bridges in Vermont.
Driving through New York City at night is as magical and awe-inspiring as one would imagine seeing it on television or the internet.
Swimming in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan is as beautiful and refreshing as any Caribbean ocean I have ever swum or scuba dove in.
We have been to 36 states in the last few years and have driven over 30,000 miles.
We are just getting started now. There is so much more to do! Getting out to the Grand Canyon, Moab, Arches, and Zion National Parks, the giant Redwoods, and the Badlands of Dakota.
We are having the time of our lives and can’t wait for the next adventure.
Meeting More Of A Variety of People While Living In A School Bus
I have met some of the most amazing people in my lifetime. There are people from my childhood, Jr. High and High School, college, and professional life that have made huge impacts on me.
My circle is very small. I like it that way. I have many friends. Hundreds in fact. There are only a small handful of my friends, or better yet, acquaintances, that I would consider true friends.
If I were the captain of a team and choosing teams from everyone I know, my team would be small, but potent as hell!
Since we have been traveling, living in a school bus, and living nomadically, my life has changed greatly by my new peers, friends, and people I would consider in my inner circle.
Skoolie peeps, van lifers, RVers, and nomads, in general, are my people. I get them and they get me.
Don’t get me wrong though. There are some total whack jobs traveling around and living in a school bus out there. We’ve met our fair share in the last few years.
We just smile and move on from those we do not vibe or connect with.
We very much love and appreciate the skoolie community and our lives are better and richer for some of them we have met and grown to love and respect.
Happier, Relaxed, and Content Living In A School Bus
Before we were traveling and living in a school bus full-time as nomads, life was a lot more stressful. I don’t really know why or have a complete explanation.
There are many things about living on the road that could and should be very stressful.
My head is a lot clearer now. My blood pressure is normal now. When I go to bed at night, I am not stressed about all of the shit I have to do tomorrow, all of the deadlines, and people’s expectations I have to live up to.
Life is so much more peaceful and relaxing now. I am sitting outside in my lawn chair, under our awning writing this post.
There are at least 10 to 15 different bird songs I am hearing. Crickets, grasshoppers, and bugs of all sorts chirp and make their songs. The giant water oaks create a fantastical and storybook backdrop.
I’ll take this “office space” over a cubicle, corner office, or anything else I have ever had in the past any day. For sure, living in a skoolie is an improvement overall in my life!
Spend More Time Outside – Living In A School Bus
One of the best things to come out of skoolie life so far and the most significant way my life has changed is that I spend so much more time outside now. Never since I was a little boy have I spent so much time outside.
It makes sense though if you really think about it. With a deck on top of our skoolie and so little space inside of the skoolie. Most of our time is spent either sitting outside under the awning, around a campfire, or up on the roof deck.
We wrote an informative post on Skoolie Rood Decks here.
Feel More Primal – Living In A School Bus
This is something that has been building inside of me since I was a child. I have always been drawn to raw, unfiltered nature. Being in the wild and providing for myself is something I have always wanted to do.
Subconsciously, it may have derived from watching Gilligan’s Island when I was a child. I always thought it would be so great to live on a marooned island.
Then, in my preteen and early teen years, watching Grizzley Adams. I loved and was very intrigued by the idea of living in the mountains, the backcountry, and the bush all by myself. (having a grizzly bear as a pet/companion would be super cool no doubt)
It’s almost as if there is an awakening in my DNA as we camp in National Parks, BLM, and Dispersed land areas. Being in nature, away from “society” and the garbage that goes along with it feels very pure and normal to me now.
Going into town stresses me out now. There is no joy or relaxation while being in a city for me.
I’ll take off-grid nature and wilderness from now on thank you.
Our Future Focus is Clearer While Living In A School Bus
We have a definitive plan of what our future looks like. Before it was more about where are we going to live. How long are we going to work? Do we live close to kids for grandbabies?
Now, our future is focused on what we want to experience. Where do we want to own land? Our focus is based more on our dreams, desires, passions, and “us” in general.
We can talk about that in more detail another time.
It is very liberating to put yourself first. Especially when you have lived the majority of your life putting others before you.
It’s a nice gesture and it gives off that “mother Teresa” feeling. I have to tell you though, living for yourself first, makes life a whole lot better for you and for others.
Now, when we give, sacrifice, or serve other people, it has a completely different and more satisfying feeling and notion to it.
Cook/Eat Differently While Living In A School Bus
Cooking and eating have become much simpler while living in a school bus. We have not and do not sacrifice the enjoyment of eating good food, we just approach it a little differently now.
We do not eat out as much now, especially fast food. Our meals and shopping are much more deliberate and planned out.
No doubt we still go around the carousel once in a while.
Don: “what do you want to eat?”
Nat: “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?”
Don: “I asked you first. What would you like to eat?”
Nat: “I don’t know, what do we have on the bus?”
Don: “I don’t know.”
But it is less often than before we lived and traveled full time on our skoolie. I will say this, Nat can still make a helluva grilled cheese sammich and I can cook up something you’d think came from a nice restaurant.
Living in a school bus doesn’t have to change you, it just does for the better.
Better Appreciate and Understanding of Freedom While Living In A School Bus
One of the significant ways my life has changed since we began living in a school bus is that I feel a deeper and more natural understanding of what freedom really is.
Freedom is a term we sling around quite loosely and arrogantly in America. We have been taught and indoctrinated all of our lives that we live in the “Land of the Free”.
In actuality, not to go down a dark rabbit hole or anything here, but most Americans are slaves still.
We are slaves to our jobs, money, mortgages, car payments, bank accounts, peer pressure, retirement, and taxes.
Most Americans really do not have the freedom or the ability to do what they want. Sure, you may say we “choose”
People have to ask permission to take a vacation. It’s not automatic either. It’s based on seniority, business needs, etc…
You are scheduled and mandated on when you can take a piss break, smoke break, and go eat lunch. We, as a society are told when we have to arrive at work and when we are allowed to leave.
Sure, you can buck the system, but, unless you are prepared for it, there are dire consequences you will face. For most people, that could land them homeless and hungry.
I’m not slamming anyone here, I am just pointing out, that I came to a realization, that life is not for me, and I can not imagine ever going back to it again.
I wake up when I want now.
If I want to go somewhere, I simply go when I want.
There is no one who dictates what I wear, do, say, act, or reward or punishes me for not doing what I am told or instructed.
Wrap Up to 11 Ways My Life Has Changed Living In A School Bus
To say my life has changed living in a school bus over the last few years would be an understatement.
I think back to before I married Nat. Working my ass off at Progressive and Nationwide Insurance. I was only wanting to work long enough to buy a sailboat so I could cruise around the Caribbean fishing, scuba diving, and drinking rum.
Funny how things change now after living in a school bus.
I knew I wanted this lifestyle before I even began it. It was always there in the back of my head.
The difference now is I am married to my best friend, cruising around North America, hiking, adventuring, drinking whiskey, and living in a school bus instead of a sailboat.
Life is about change. A very wise and gorgeous woman once told me, “Nothing changes, if nothing changes.” (That beautiful and wise woman was Nat Silver)
It kind of sounds like something Yogi Bera would say. If you study on it for a minute or so, you will realize it is as wise and true as Mother Nature.
I can’t imagine living any other way. Traveling, living life on my own terms, and experiencing things most people are at least lucky enough to even dream about or watch in videos. Living in a school bus certainly has it's challenges, but it also has so much more to offer!
Yes indeed. Yo ho, yo ho, the skoolie life for me!