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We converted a $12,000 shuttle bus into an RV – now we live in it full time

Michael Cassata and Sara Cokeley renovated a shuttle bus and now live in it full time.
Michael Cassata and Sara Cokeley

Michael Cassata and Sara Cokeley have turned a shuttle bus into their long-term home.

Since purchasing their bus, they’ve spent around $16,000 renovating it.

Life on a shuttle bus can be challenging, but they encourage people to try if they can.

This is a machine translation of an article by our US colleagues at Insider. It was automatically translated and checked by a real editor. We welcome feedback at the end of the article.

This essay is based on a conversation with Michael Cassata and Sara Cokeley, who live and travel in their converted RV. It has been revised for length and clarity.

During the pandemic, I was converting a van with my brother. I loved the van and knew I wanted to do it again but this time with my fiancee Sara.

On the rooftop of the shuttle bus.
Michael and Sara

At the time, Sara and I were in the process of moving to the Pacific Northwest from Orlando, Florida, and we were faced with the decision of whether to rent an apartment or convert a bus.

Both options came at a cost, but we liked the idea of ​​living on the street. Also, we liked the idea of ​​investing our money in something that would be ours.

I love that now that we are staying in our shuttle we can travel and save on hotel expenses. We can drive to our friends, in the middle of the forest or anywhere else, and we have our belongings with us. We have running water, we can shower and we can cook. It feels like we’re glamping all the time.

This is how you find the right shuttle bus that you can convert into a mobile home

We faced some challenges.
Michael and Sara

When we started looking for a bus to convert we found several that seemed promising but none of them suited our needs.

For example, many of them had mechanical problems and one bus we were looking at wouldn’t even start when we went to look at it.

I remember the day we finally found our shuttle bus. It was 2 AM and I was browsing eBay when I stumbled across an $18,000 bus in Atlanta, Georgia. It had 80,000 miles on the odometer, but it originally belonged to a nursing home and looked well cared for.

At first I thought this bus was way over our budget but I contacted them anyway. The worst they could say was no.

I offered 12,000 US dollars (about 11,000 euros). The next morning, they agreed to my offer, and Sara and I boarded a plane to Atlanta the next day. Then we drove him home and started the renovation.

How we renovated our mobile home

Our kitchen area.
Michael and Sara

Since buying our bus, we’ve invested about $16,000 (€14,650) in the renovation plugged. Luckily my father is a carpenter and I learned many of my skills from him.

nonetheless, we faced some challenges and we didn’t know how to do everything.

For example, the structure of a bus is curved. This means that everything inside the bus must curve as well. We work completely off the grid and had to learn how to work around the curve and install things like electricity.

The electricity in our mobile home is the most expensive thing we have installed. It cost us nearly $5,000, which is actually on the low end for electricity.

In order to supply our bus with electricity, we have three solar cells on the roof. Each solar module has an output of 200 watts. We can use it to operate our TV, mixer or other devices on the bus.

Our shower inside the shuttle.
Michael and Sara

The plumbing was easy for us to install. You’d think it would be a tall order, but it wasn’t. We wanted a nice water heater, and it cost us almost $500. It’s what’s known as a tankless water heater that uses propane to heat the water as soon as it comes into the pipe. The used water is then stored under the bus in a gray water tank until we can drain it.

We also have a cassette toilet on our shuttle which is located in the shower. The toilet holds both clean water and dirty water.

With this type of toilet, you can easily disassemble it and then get rid of it at a disposal station. Also, when we need to go to the bathroom, we usually go to Costco or Walmart, where we shop anyway.

Life on a shuttle bus comes with some challenges

There are challenges in living like this, but I’m delighted. When you live in an RV, or in our case a shuttle, there is always something to fix. In the past, our refrigerator broke, and our air conditioner broke once, too.

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These are small things, but they happen all the time, especially the more you travel. It’s important to save money in case something goes wrong, like a breakdown. It’s never fun, and it’s best to be prepared for the worst.

The entrance to the bus overlooking the dining room.
Michael and Sara

Another challenge we face when traveling is unreliable cell phone signal – many of the places we travel to have limited cell phone signal. We do many things that require a stable connection, such as B. posting on our social media, managing Sara’s earring shop on the web, posting YouTube videos and creating user-generated content for businesses.

We usually ride our bikes into town and find a coffee shop or a park with positive wifi and signal to do these things.

We make less money but we are happier

We both used to have jobs that we hated, but we stayed for the money. We worked at Disney World in the restaurant business. Sara had two jobs that made her $4,000 a month, and I made $3,200 a month from my job.

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It was a very difficult decision because we were making really positive money for the number of hours we both worked a week.

Sara now works at various farmers markets selling earrings which we also sell when we travel. She also sells her earrings online. How much she makes depends on how many markets she visits, the time of year and the places we are.

I work as a DJ and make between $600 and $900 for every wedding I DJ at. Although we’re making less money now, we’ve realized that we’d rather enjoy our lives, even if it means making less money. We just want to enjoy the time we have when we have it.

While RV life is challenging, I recommend everyone give it a try if they are interested.

Read the original article in English here.

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