Years ago, Chris Farley made the statement that living in a van down by the river was frowned upon. Little did we know, living in a van down by the river is now a luxury and a highly sought after “get-away”. It is incredible to see the transition from such a negative attitude to such a reinforcing and positive attitude as we know now. This whole craze began with van conversions, but the biggest issue people had was the lack of space. People wanted to live in a van and travel the country, but they needed more space for gear and other family members. The question came to mind; “What vehicle has potential to be converted into an RV?” One would need something that has the extra space, be reasonably priced, and readily available when parts are needed. This all leads into the answer that we have all been thinking about…school buses! Also known as skoolies, these versatile vehicles have become increasingly popular over the last decade.
The great part about converting a skoolie is that you can build the bus to your exact needs. Some people just need the bare minimum, while others need solar panels & electricity, composting toilets, water tanks, multiple bedrooms, and luxuries you may not even have in your own home. If you do not want to convert your bus yourself, there are plenty of already converted buses that you can purchase too! They will be more expensive, but it’ll be a turn-key unit.
Below, we will break down several key places where you can begin digging for the bus that speaks to you.
Where to buy a bus:
There are more options than one would think. You can look on Facebook marketplace and see if there’s anything local to you. Put in your zip code and you can set a search radius up to 100 miles from you. Marketplace will also add a few ads that are like what you’re looking for but are out of your search radius underneath the rest of the listings.
Here what we recommend you do for this search:
As you can see, I have my location set and I’m searching for school buses within a 100-mile radius. We always recommend purchasing a bus after you have personally seen it and test drove it. Buying a sight-unseen bus can lead to many breakdowns and issues that you were not aware of. There will always be a bus you can purchase within driving distance for your desired budget if you look hard enough! Never give up, the right deal will pop up at the right time.
The next place you can look for a bus that is very similar to Marketplace is Craigslist. It looks for local listings close to you as well. Previously, craigslist was filled with a lot of scams, but ever since Craigslist began requiring a $5/vehicle posting fee, it has helped significantly reduce the scam ads. You can filter and refine your search on the left of the page, but we found that it is just best to search in the search bar at the top.
Here’s how it looks:
In my area there were not any local listings, so they populated listings from other places in the surrounding areas.
With Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you will also be able to find skoolies already converted. These will be few and far between, but you still might have the chance to buy your dream skoolie through these avenues.
If these two options are not working out for you, google local bus depots or school districts. Find out if they contract their buses out or if they own and operate their own buses. Talk to them to see if they have anything for sale or something, they are thinking about getting rid of soon. Also, they could be a great resource if you need anything down the road! We like to go by the motto of, ” You don’t know until you try”. It never hurts to make that phone call and ask.
If you can’t find anything local to you there’s a few other things you can do. First thing is to look up online auto auctions where you don’t need a dealer’s license. You may also look up military surplus auctions since they use school buses as well. Most of the time those buses have been fleet maintained so they will be in good condition. Please beware and be prepared to run into issues or things that you may not have noticed since you would be buying sight unseen.
These two options are for buses only. There will most likely not be any converted skoolies for sale with these last two options. This does not mean you cannot get a good deal though! It will still make for the perfect building platform for the conversion of your dreams!
One other good option is to use Facebook groups and Instagram pages to find buses and skoolies! There’s: “Skoolies/Schoolies/School Bus Conversions For Sale USA” and “Skoolies for Sale” and of course “National Skoolie Association”. These are all good resources. Every now and then, we will post buses or converted skoolies on our IG (@NationalSkoolieAssociation). These Facebook and IG groups are a great option as it allows you to directly speak with the seller to get additional insight into the bus.