Finding the “perfect” bus.

Some of the buses we have looked at along the way.


I was shaving my legs, sitting on the side of the tub, when I told Ethan that I wanted us to convert a bus. At first he couldn’t see how it was feasible but the insidious seed had been planted. That seed bloomed into a ferocious hunger of how, where and when to begin.

How does one begin looking for a used school bus?  Why, Craigslist, of course. The always open market for the strange and un-used didn’t let us down. It was littered with buses but overwhemled us because of our lack of knowledge. How did we know if it was a good engine, not being diesel mechanics ourselves, or how much rust was too much rust. We needed a plan. Then bus sketches of how much square feet we thought we needed began. In a very delusional moment a bus length of 28 feet was entertained but was soon dismissed. After many sketches and futile ideas we decided, the bus had to be 40 feet long. A 40 foot school bus is not the easiest to find, as we soon found out. After scouring our local craigslist and traveling to Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and from the far corners of Kansas we realized we needed help.

Where does one find help buying a used school bus? Facebook, Facebook is the best skoolie resource. We had done our due diligence and though we had yet to find a bus we had gained unparalleled knowledge about what we didn’t want. So, I turned to the old faithful Facebook search and began finding groups dedicated to this world of “skoolies”. Skoolie – a school bus that has been purchased by a private owner and converted for some purpose other than hauling people around, such as RVing or tiny homes. These groups brought along a plethora of knowledge that we were lacking. Like, that most school buses had rust and that it was okay, to a degree. As we asked questions on the groups, answers we did receive. With the new confidence our skoolie family provided we continued our search. Looking at any and all states within 10 hours Ethan found a craigslist ad in south Texas. The header of the ad read ” YOU NEED A BUS” and we did. After calling the talkative Mr. Dan we had found the “perfect” bus. A 2000 International Genesis with no body rust, 70,000 miles and a DT466 diesel engine. But then we had to ask ourselves, was it the right time to be buying a bus? We had two whole years till Ethan would be going to college so we had two years to find and renovate a bus. Was the time now?

When is the best time to buy a bus? We thought the bus market would be flat when we began our journey. We were mistaken. This market is a raging sea of vague descriptions and fluctuating prices. There is no structure, it is purely based on whim and what one person paid that one time. Public auctions would seem like the best way to buy a school bus but that is wishful thinking. Public auctions bring in the bus dealers looking to make a quick buck off of the skoolie/ tiny home movement. Some people have been lucky and got their buses for cheap at auction but they are the exception that makes the rule. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from buying a school bus, only trying to add our personal experience. You could be the lucky few who gets that amazing deal at auction. Buying a bus is based on what you need and what you’re willing to pay. So, when is the right time to buy?  Does it meet all or most of your criteria? Buy it. Or don’t, there is no perfect time or prefect bus. Buying is just the beginning of the adventure.

Through many calls, countless hours of driving and repetitious discussion we found our “perfect” bus. This “perfect” bus has a roof leak, its front main oil seal is blown and has intermittent instrument clusters.. Nevertheless, it’s our imperfectly perfect bus.

“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.” – Michael Law

Exodus and the adventures of Tingle Team





2 thoughts on “Finding the “perfect” bus.

  1. My wife and plan on converting a bus sometime in the near future. In North Carolina, there is a Surplus School Bus program the state runs to sell off old busses. The prices are set, usually around $5-5500 for a bus that’s 15-20 years old, with miles less than 200k. Seems like a good deal. My research into this is not much though, as we are just beginning to figure out what we need. We want to be quick about the conversion so we intend to have everything in place to make it go quick. I’ll read some more of your blogs and look forward to seeing what’s yet to come.

    Liked by 1 person

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