What is a Skoolie? A Complete Guide

A women standing atop a skoolie bus in the mountains.

Skoolies have become a sustainable housing option for those who are on the lookout for affordable (and mobile) housing. (Image: via Instagram)

Today, skoolies have become a sustainable housing option for those who are on the lookout for affordable (and mobile) housing. They are the next best thing to a permanent roof over your head for nomadic souls. These original tiny mobile homes, made out of refurbished and renovated school buses, are the ultimate investment for those who like to travel long distances and feel at home at the same time. Moreover, these mobile houses are hugely popular among people of all age spectrums. The fact that these tiny homes had an average growth rate of 7 percent per year over the past three years is a testimony to their recent popularity.

But before you even consider making a purchase decision, you need to know more about skoolies and how they are changing how the world looks at sustainable living.

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A skoolie is the next best thing to a permanent roof over your head for nomadic souls.
These vehicles are the next best thing to a permanent roof over your head for nomadic souls. (Image: via Instagram)

What is a skoolie?

Skoolies are the product of upcycling as they are made out of school buses that have gone out of service. These school buses are renovated to give shape to a more homely interior, thus becoming a skoolie. They may also be defined as a blend of RVs and tiny houses on wheels. On the inside, they may be anywhere between 245 and 300 square feet. Space may be adjusted by optimizing the interiors and utilizing the roof and back for storage.

The initial steps in the conversion process of a skoolie include taking out the rows of seats. Arrangements may be made to convert the traditional floor and ceiling of the school bus into something that looks more esthetic and homely. To make the mobile home look more spacious, a few structural alterations are done, such as dropping the floor or raising the roof. These alterations not only give you more headroom, but also improved ventilation and airflow. Although most aspects of the conversion process may be done as a DIY exercise, certain tasks may require professional help.

Skoolies are the product of upcycling as they are made out of school buses that have gone out of service. (Image: Pinterest)

Coming to the amenities, a skoolie can include multiple amenities to make it more liveable. After the floor plan of your skoolie is complete, you can install the gas and water plumbing and separate tanks for potable water, greywater, and black water. You may also install an HVAC system for more indoor comfort. Making more space by optimizing your storage is a fun part that, when done well, can lead to your skoolie looking more spacious. Therefore, finding out was to carefully optimize your luggage is imperative.

How much does a skoolie cost?

Setting one up can cost you anywhere between US$5,000 and US$30,000, depending on how furbished you want your skoolie to be and how much work you can do yourself. While it may be made out of a used school bus that you can buy for US$3000 to US$7000, you may also check out new school buses. Purchasing a new school bus will ensure the longevity of the mobile house while reducing your cost of repairs and maintenance.

But if you are looking to save some money on your skoolie, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Use materials from architectural salvage stores. You can use various items for the conversion process and simultaneously save money on all of them.
  • Utilize old wood pallets as much as possible. Reusing old palettes can add a dash of creativity indoors too.
  • See if you can connect your skoolie to an RV or marine electrical product to save money on electrical installation. You can save money on the inverter if you can install a solar system on the long roof to power it.
Coming to the amenities, a skoolie can include multiple amenities to make it more livable. (Image: Instagram)

Can I buy a skoolie?

Traveling to splendid locations around the country is a thing of fantasy. But getting a skoolie might help you explore it in reality. Converting an old school bus is a DIY project that could take you some years before you can finally shift yourself into your new mobile home and drive around. If you have an urgency, various online forums allow you to purchase “ready to move in” vehicles. These purchase-ready vehicles start from US$35,000 onward.

Fulfill the wanderlust that has always driven you. Start your skoolie hunt today! 

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