Like everyone else, I figured that the idea of “living in a bus” was mostly made up for the benefit of “reality ” TV. Lesslye and Shawn couldn’t have set us more straight. Lesslye, a former marketing executive and Shawn a HVAC and maintenance professional… we found them to be friendly, sincere, and normal people just like us. (Ha! Well, if you consider us normal, that is!). Like so many people, they found they had too much house and too little income at the end of each month. Too many things. Too many obligations. Too little of the more important things in life. They also felt that God was (and is) calling them to a freer and traveling lifestyle.
Two years and 72 bus seats un-bolted from the floor later, they’re starting this new adventure of living their dream on the road. Their first adventure is far from their Texas roots, working seasonal jobs high in the Colorado Rockies.
What have they found the biggest challenges to be in converting to school bus living? First, that it’s not RV living. Storage and living spaces haven’t been carefully designed by a team of engineers, like they are in mass produced motorhomes. With a bus, it’s up to you to plan and build that space yourself. But on the flip side, that also means that you can tailor your new home to exactly how you want your living space to be.
Lesslye and Shawn are generous about opening their home to show (and hopefully inspire) others. The response they get back isn’t always as kind, and is often judgmental. However, they are quick to admit that this style of living isn’t for everyone. Another challenge has been managing the preconceived assumptions that others have about them and the kind of people they “must be.”
We’ve talked about some of their challenges. What about their worries? Making sure they’re able to save enough for gas money to get to the next seasonal workplace is a big worry, considering that the bus gets a whoppin’ 6 miles to the gallon when fully loaded. Avoiding winter is another. The bus is insulated and warm, but not suitable for winter camping at 9,000 feet above sea level. Nor is this rear wheel drive vehicle an optimal choice for driving on snow and ice covered roads.
Their joy’s with this style of living? The freedom. How do you explain the freedom that you feel when you can pick up your life, your home, your family and your pets and go anywhere that the road will lead? Lesslye and Shawn have named their bus “Endless Possibilities” for a reason! Also among their joys in this journey: the sincere and interesting people that they’ve met thus far.
And their recommendations: Buy yourself some piece of mind. Lesslye & Shawn carry both AAA (for RV) and Good Sam travel assistance insurances. The tires alone are $400 each (and there are eight of them!), not to mention what towing could be in the remote areas they love. Thankfully they haven’t needed the travel insurance yet, but it provides some welcome reassurance just having it.
Notice the porch lights, the bulletin board and clever storage pouches in the photo above! This isn’t roughing it! Cozy and practical elements everywhere make this bus comfortable and a home. They were able to save considerably on materials by repurposing them from construction projects that were discarding the old scrap. Old doors from Habitat for Humanity made sturdy (and attractive) walls!
The main living area (as seen from the bus entrance), features a queen sized sofa bed, love seat, storage chest, dining table, and a kitchen mostly from ikea. On the far side of the kitchen is a full sized fridge and shallow pantry.
Opposite of the bathroom is a set of bunkbeds, set up for the grandkids when they visit.
The rear of the bus has been converted into the master bedroom. In order to make the most of their space, Shawn built the bed on a roller/pulley system that uses a remote control (similar to a garage door opener). This allows the bed to be raised to the ceiling when not in use, opening up a sitting area with storage cubbies beneath. When not in use, the bed is safely secured in place with pins that prevent the bed from falling and also reduce the strain on the pulley system.
Coin operated laundries are so expensive to use on a regular basis. To save on laundry expenses, they also bring along their own washer/dryer combo machine.
What’s next for home improvements? Perhaps removable stain glassed panels as sun lights in the emergency roof exits. Or a sun-deck mounted on the roof. Or… ? Like most homes, there’s always a new project and the work is never done!