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The Pros And Cons Of Living In A Skoolie

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

skoolie covered in snow

The Pros And Cons Of Living In A Skoolie

Skoolies are all over social media and are being seen more and more on the road and in campgrounds. There is something very intriguing about skoolie conversions. Maybe it’s the emotional attachment we have from kids riding the school bus or the blank slate that they provide.

Whatever the reason, skoolies are quickly growing in popularity. Is a skoolie the right choice for you? Here are some pros and cons of living in a skoolie.

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A skoolie can reward you with unlimited freedom as discovered by @groovylittlebuslife.

Pro: Mobile

One major pro of a skoolie is the ability to move around freely and be self-sufficient. Seeing as the original purpose of skoolies was to move people around, they are well suited for travel.

In the case of full-size buses, they are quite long but still drivable for most people who are interested. Not having to purchase a trailer and separate tow vehicle and deal with maneuvering a trailer or the high cost of a similar length Class A makes skoolies a great option.

One consideration is the license required to operate a skoolie. Make sure you know the requirements for your location and locations you plan to travel to and obtain the proper training and certifications.

Con: Space

Space is a consideration for most alternative living options. A skoolie is no different. A full-size school bus at first glance appears quite large. At approximately 40′ in length for full-size buses, it is by no means a 2 man tent.

However, remove the engine and cockpit area and then consider the interior width is just under 8′ and the interior height is right around 6′. Now install all your walls, cabinets, and appliances and you will have a better idea of the available space.

There are smaller and larger bus options than mentioned above but whichever route you go space will be at a premium. A flowing floor plan and multiple-use spaces will help utilize the available space. If a van conversion is just too small for you, a skoolie might be the answer.

Pro: Unlimited design options

Skoolies are a completely blank slate when it comes to design. Unlike remodeling an RV which already has most of the bones needed to start your renovation and a somewhat predetermined layout, a skoolie is an empty shell.

The floorplan will be all up to you. Placement of appliances, electrical outlets, and windows – it’s all your vision. Don’t want a small bathroom typical to RVs? Make yours as big as you want! Coverings for walls, floors, and ceilings – all you. Although this will take more planning and work than an RV remodel, the end result is a one-of-a-kind, personally unique living space.

Check out this beautiful conversion by @going_boundless.

Con: Maintenance costs

Although school buses are fairly priced to purchase and convert if you are doing the work yourself, they are a heavy-duty work vehicle to start with and this needs to be considered.

The tires, brakes, suspension, and drivetrain are all normally serviced by specialty shops and parts can be expensive. School buses are made to be dependable and for the most part, if serviced regularly during their working days, will be reliable. That being said, service and repairs are inevitable, and if you’re not able to perform the work yourself, it can be costly.

old dilapidated school bus
Budget for service and repairs

Pro: Availability

School and transport buses are everywhere. They often have a service life at which time they are replaced with new buses. One pro of a skoolie is the availability and as a result, the reasonable price to obtain one. The cheaper your initial investment, the lower overall costs you will have when complete. Finding a used bus shouldn’t be an issue regardless of where you live.

In the US alone there are almost 500,000 school buses transporting students daily. The average service life of a school bus in the school system is 12-15 years and 250,000 miles.

Con: Window / Seat Removal

You are most likely not going to buy a used school or transport bus and live in it as is. The first obvious obstacle you will encounter when you step onto your new project is the seats… lots of seats. Unless you can think of a real creative way to include them in your floor plan, all of those seats are going to have to come out. Whether you unbolt them all one rusty bolt at a time or cut them out, they have to come out.

One feature of a skoolie which at first may seem like a pro is the 360-degree windows. Tons of natural light and airflow, right?

Well, you can’t screw cabinets and attach electrical and plumbing to glass. You are also most likely going to want to insulate your skoolie both for cold and hot climates and single pane glass is not the answer. Having the option to use the windows you want to is nice but many of them will have to be removed or covered up.

Another consideration here is the disposal of the seats and windows you remove. Try and find somewhere to donate them or arrange for proper disposal.

interior of a school bus
What do you do with all the windows and seats?

Pro: Skoolie community

The skoolie following is expanding daily. Because of this, there is a huge community of like-minded people converting and living in skoolies. These groups both online and located around the world are a great resource of information and inspiration.

If you need help with design ideas or have mechanical problems, you will surely be able to find helpful skoolie owners to talk to. Once on the road, there are skoolie groups traveling and meeting up around the world to enjoy your travel with.

There are many options when it comes to alternative living. From RVs to boats to tiny homes and of course, skoolies! Like everything, there are pros and cons but skoolie living is definitely worth considering.

If a skoolie sounds right for you, check out this complete guide to renovating a school bus.

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