So I Bought A Bus... with @chasingthecoastline
Names: Elizabeth, Spike, Pepper, and Violet-Parsley Stone
We are Spike, Liz, Pepper, and Violet-Parsley. Two grown-ups (sort of) and two kids (definitely) We decided we weren't quite ready to settle down in a traditional house so we got a bus and began converting it to a house for our family. So far its been exciting, fun, and difficult.
Stay tuned to see our progress and adventures!
What inspired/led you to buy a school bus?
Oof really starting with the hard questions.
We both grew up in the northeast and we both got sick of it (especially the winters) and wanted to move somewhere else. The problem was that we didn’t know exactly where we wanted to move and the thought of buying a new house just to fill it with stuff ultimately didn't make either of us happy. We really wanted to find a way to travel and see new places and also make a house that is totally our own with our own hands. We talked to our kids about it and they were 1000% into it so the decision was made, the family Stone will live on a school bus.
Did you have any criteria for what you were looking for in a bus?
We really only had a few things we were looking for: we wanted a proper diesel engine, bigger than a shorty, smaller than a full size, and tall (Spike is 6’4’’ and we plan to live full time on the bus so no hunching over all the time was important).
Where/how did you find the bus?
We really looked using just about every platform we could find but we eventually found the bus we bought on Facebook Marketplace. The bus was in upstate NY (about 6 hours from us). We had found a few other busses we were interested in and reached out to the sellers but either didn't get timely responses or the details of the bus seemed shady.
How long were you searching before you found the one you bought?
We had been seriously talking about getting a bus for over a year before we finally got one so we would periodically look to see what was out there. When we really made up our minds and set some real deadlines it took about 3 weeks to find a suitable bus.
Did you look at multiple buses before buying the one you did? If so, what stopped you from buying the others?
We got pretty close to buying some other buses but very few were anywhere near us. We talked to a few of the sellers on the phone before we ultimately packed the kids in the car and drove the 6 hours to pick ours up.
Did you do research on what to look for in a potential purchase beforehand? What are some good resources that you used?
We did research out what other people had gotten but we also didn’t want to wait forever for the perfect bus to fall in our laps. We finally just got the best option we could find and worked from there.
When you first saw your bus was there anything that concerned you about it?
We really didn't have any experience buying buses or large trucks so it was hard to know exactly what to look for. We looked around the bus, started it up, took it for a test drive, and talked to the seller about it. The seller was a really helpful diesel mechanic and patiently answered all our questions and even told us to call him anytime in the future if we had questions.
Was there anything that excited you about the bus you bought when you first saw it?
When we saw it online we were really excited because it looked like the perfect size for us, not too big and not too small. When we finally saw it in person we were all awestruck. The kids had been cooped up in the car for 6 or 7 hours so they started running laps around the bus while we just stared at it like a monolith. The first thing that really started getting us giddy when we got into the bus was the ceiling height, Spike could stand up straight and still had a few inches of clearance. The big panel of rocker switches in the driver seat was also incredible, it feels like I’m driving a spaceship when I start flipping switches.
What did you learn during the buying process? What would you do differently if you did it again?
I learned that with a vehicle that big and complicated it's really difficult to see the condition of all the systems. Now that I have dug around the bus for a few weeks I think I would have a better idea of what to look for. Our bus didn't seem too rusty when we checked it out but after ripping up the floor I found some serious oxidation. I don’t think I would do anything differently if I did it again. I think our bus was a good deal and will make a great home for our family. I would, however, maybe have stayed the night. 7 hours there and 9 hours back made for a brutal day of driving.
Do you regret getting the bus that you have instead of a different one?
I definitely don't regret getting the bus we got (yet). I did want a flat nose pusher but couldn't find one that met our other criteria. I also really wanted a trolley but couldn't find one anywhere close to our price range.
What was the registration process like for you in your state?
We have sent out all the paperwork for registration but haven't received it all back yet. So far it's been straightforward. Since our bus came with the original title, we didn't even need to get a VIN check.
Did you drive the bus home? What was it like driving it for the first time?
I test drove the bus for maybe 2 miles before buying it and driving the bus was surprisingly easy. It's automatic so it was just press and go. Driving it home was a bit more challenging. The bus was in upstate NY so to get home we had to drive through the Adirondacks. I took it slow (like I had a choice) and tried to have fun. I knew I was going slow so I tried to pull over to let the cars behind me pass but no one would pass me because I was driving a school bus (duh).
Did you need any special licenses or have to jump through any legal hoops?
...I argue that I am driving the bus as a personal vehicle that it is (hopefully) registered as an RV so I don’t need any special licenses. I’ve rented trucks the same size without any special licenses before...so what's the difference.
How did you insure your school bus and what was the process like?
Since our bus is still in the buildout phase and we aren't driving it around, we have not insured it. Our friends have recommended Good Sam’s Insurance and when the time comes we will likely go with them.
Is there anything else you want to share for those that are in the buying process or will be in the future?
Buying a bus is scary. It's honestly shocking that a regular person can just go buy an enormous school bus.