So I Bought A Bus... with @thatgirlwithabus
Name: Lyndsey Watkins
Facebook: That Girl With A Bus
My name is Lyndsey and I’m a 34-year-old girl living in West Virginia. I bought a 1995 Chevrolet G30 bus and named her Winnie. I didn’t get the name from Winnie the Pooh but rather a beloved TV show of my childhood “The Wonder Years”. I am excited to have many adventures with Winnie and my dog Luna and live out “The Wander Years” of my life!
What inspired/led you to buy a school bus?
I came across a picture of Lexie’s bus Lola from Adventuring with Lola on Instagram. I had followed her journey for a year and always thought it looked cool but didn’t think much about actually pursuing a bus on my own. Then one day, kind of out of the blue, I just began having an overwhelming urge to buy a van. I began researching van life and just starting diving into all things related to that. I watched youtube videos on how to convert vans, followed accounts, starting writing notes on products to use, etc. I came across the book "SKOOLIE!" by Will Sutherland and that sparked my interest in possibly buying a bus. When reading the first few pages of his book, I was convinced that bus life was the way I wanted to go. I used “Lola” as an inspiration but wasn’t planning on buying a bus until the summer of 2021. I asked my local school district that I work for if I could test drive a bus because I was thinking of eventually buying a bus to convert. Because I was already covered under their insurance, they said sure! I was so excited! That moment I KNEW I would buy a bus eventually. Little did I know, the next day, a bus just like Lola would pop up for sale 45 minutes away! Bus life was beginning quicker than I planned!
Did you have any criteria for what you were looking for in a bus?
Honestly, I was thinking I would want to buy a midsize Blue Bird. (I wanted a Blue Bird just because I thought I would name it Birdie and I thought the logo was cute haha). I didn’t have many expectations but I was hoping for the Allison Transmission, DT466 engine (pretty much whatever I read was the best, I wanted that!) However, the more I thought about it, the more I thought how I wouldn’t mind just having a bus just like Lola because it was small. I worked at a childcare in college and drove the 15 passenger van full of kids on field trips so I knew I could handle a Chevrolet G30 bus.
Where/how did you find the bus?
I actually found it on Facebook Marketplace. I joke that I “Manifested” my dream bus. I literally screenshot a picture of Lola and would look at it each night (I connected with Lexie via social media and told her that Lola was my inspiration and I didn’t dream that it would happen so soon!)
How long were you searching before you found the one you bought?
One day! I wasn’t even planning to buy a bus until next summer. But I would get on eBay, Facebook Marketplace for fun, and search for buses. I wasn’t actively searching. I was more just looking at buses and seeing what was available, the price range I was seeing often, the condition of buses, etc. I was just trying to learn everything I could before next summer so I felt ready! When my bus popped up so close, the exact model, in the exact price range, I couldn’t say no!
Did you look at multiple buses before buying the one you did? If so, what stopped you from buying the others?
Nope. It was like “There's my bus!”
Did you do research on what to look for in a potential purchase beforehand? What are some good resources that you used?
I mainly used the book "Skoolie!" by Will Sutherland. I found out after the fact that we graduated from the same university, are both from West Virginia, and have many mutual friends! I also followed many accounts on Instagram such as Adventuring with Lola (which I’ve already mentioned before) and your account Navigation Nowhere! There are so many to name though! I also joined many skoolie groups on Facebook.
When you first saw your bus was there anything that concerned you about it?
Overall my bus looked good. There was some corrosion on the muffler that will need to be replaced but overall it looks and sounds solid. I brought a friend with me to give me his opinion and he stated he thought it looked like a solid bus. I wasn’t too concerned about anything except rust. I still haven’t pulled the floor up so I’m hoping I’m not going to be disappointed with a ton of hidden rust spots that I was unaware of prior to my purchase.
Was there anything that excited you about the bus you bought when you first saw it?
The whole experience was exciting! Again, I drove my first bus the day before, so I was still riding on that experience high. When I came across the bus on Facebook Marketplace, I was like “OMG. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I WANT!!!” I couldn’t believe it was only 45 minutes away. I had the money in savings. I messaged the man selling and asked if I could look at it because I was very interested. I had texted a friend to see if he would care to drive me to see the bus because I would be driving the bus back if I decided to go through with the purchase. On the drive to my friend’s house, I was nervous. Would I be making a big mistake and throwing money away? So, I said “Alright team (I was praying…I believe God gives us a team to help navigate us through life), will you give me a sign in the form of a bus if this is the right move?” (School was out so the chances of seeing a bus were actually quite slim). I was thinking, “Okay, if I don’t get my sign, I know it will be no deal. If I see it, I know it’s meant to be.” So, I’m driving, and when I turn down a road to go to my friend’s house, I not only saw a shortie bus like mine, but I saw a WHOLE FLEET of shortie buses! I said “THERE IT IS! MY SIGN!!! THANK YOU!!!” I didn’t have any doubts after that!
What did you learn during the buying process? What would you do differently if you did it again?
I didn’t really learn anything because I seriously had everything just fall into place. I really lucked out.
Do you regret getting the bus that you have instead of a different one?
No. I do think I’ll eventually purchase a midsize bus but I am really happy with my first purchase. I think it was meant just for me with how everything fell into place.
What was the registration process like for you in your state?
I’m still waiting on the registration. With Covid-19, it’s made the process kind of time-consuming. It’s been hard to get a hold of anyone. I basically just went online, filled out paperwork, and mailed it into the state. Still waiting on clearance! I probably need to call and follow up on that! haha
Did you drive the bus home? What was it like driving it for the first time?
I did drive it home. I was about 40 minutes away from home. I was like a kid in a candy shop! I was so happy! I honestly wasn’t nervous at all! I had the windows rolled down (I need to get air conditioning in the bus) and driving with one hand out the window. I didn’t have music on. I was just driving with a smile and the many thoughts of future adventures running through my head!
Did you need any special licenses or have to jump through any legal hoops?
Not that I’m aware of. I’m still not completely through the process so I guess I could be in for a surprise. I’m not too concerned. I’m not on any timeline.
How did you insure your school bus and what was the process like?
That was a little tricky because my personal car insurance said they couldn’t insure it. So I immediately messaged Will Sutherland and asked who he was covered with (since he lives in the same state at me) and he so graciously passed along his insurance information. It was simple and I was insured the next day!
Is there anything else you want to share for those that are in the buying process or will be in the future?
I think when you don’t force things and put yourself on a timeline, things will work out as they should. Some would say I just lucked out in the process, but I just feel like it worked out because it was meant to be for the greater good of all! I knew if I was meant to have a bus, I would one day!