One night while sitting in their hot tub in Bremerton, WA, Katie Diamond made a startling proposal to her husband, Josh: “Do you want to sell our house and move into a school bus?”
Oddly enough, he said yes. Four days later, the couple’s house was on the market as they began their search for a bus to call home.
“We both fell in love with the idea of living in a school bus and being able to travel while we looked for the perfect piece of land to buy and build on,” Josh tells realtor.com®. “We are both young and do not have kids—just a 120-pound Neapolitan mastiff—so we figured now is a good time to explore before settling down.”
Poking around on Craigslist, they were pleased to find a 1957 school bus named Scarlett, which had already been converted into livable quarters. The original owner had made some slick structural alterations, including a raised roof and a dropped floor, which opened up the space so much that Josh, who’s 6-foot-6, need not worry about hitting his head on the bus’s two ceiling fans.
Scarlett also sported a hydraulic push-out that would provide an additional 20 square feet of interior space when parked.
Thrilled, the Diamonds moved in four months ago—and have been chronicling their travels around the U.S. on Bus Buccaneers on Instagram.
“We are taking this opportunity to really live the ‘Skoolie’ life,” says Josh, referring to the trend of living in a converted school bus. “Being able to see the world at our pace and take our home with us is amazing.”
The Diamonds and their mobile home
Meet ‘skoolies,’ the latest trend in tiny homes
The Diamonds are hardly alone: Skoolies are quickly gaining street cred as the coolest new way to downsize into a tiny home.
“There’s been an increase in interest in Skoolies, probably double since 2016,” says Missy Miller, who converted her first school bus with her husband, Jeff, after she received it as a Mother’s Day gift in 2009. After traveling in their bus with their seven (!) kids for two years, the couple co-founded Skoolie Homes, a company that builds Skoolies for clients, and runs a website with instructions so DIY die-hards can fashion their own.
“The Skoolie market is still primarily DIY,” says Miller. However, there is a great demand for information on how to convert a school bus.
“We’re in business because people don’t have time or know-how,” she adds.
Not your average school bus
Their growing popularity on Instagram makes clear that Skoolies won’t give you grungy high school flashbacks. These tiny homes are furnished with astonishingly luxurious features. Think hardwood floors, shiplap walls, washers and dryers, roof decks, solar power, even claw-foot tubs.
“Skoolie homes are upscale—it’s not what it used to be,” Miller continues. “Plus, they’re safe and affordable, just like tiny homes.”
So how far will your money go in a school bus home? According to Miller, the Skoolie Homes base model runs $35,000, which includes a basic bedroom (full or queen size), twin bunks, a bathroom, kitchen, and washer/dryer.
The company offers a more luxurious custom build with the “Glamping Bus,” which has upgrades like a tufted couch, dishwasher, and claw-foot tub, and costs about $55,000.
‘They don’t want a 30-year mortgage’
Right now, the biggest market for Skoolie Homes is millennials.
“They don’t want a 30-year mortgage,” Miller explains. “They have remote jobs. They live in the digital world. They want to enjoy life, and they’re all about experiences.”
Want to learn more about Skoolie living? Check out some of these amazing school bus homes from Instagram:
Another kitchen with a pallet wall and wood countertops with a live edge
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