Considering a School Bus Conversion for Vanlife?
With their huge interiors, great online community, and complete customizability, skoolies are a great option for families and/or full time living.
But which models of bus are best? And what kind of layouts can you have in a school bus?
In this post, we’ll find out.
Here’s everything you’ll learn:
Table of Contents
10 Amazing School Bus Conversions
With tons of interior space, sturdy construction materials, & plenty of sizes available, school buses provides a fantastic platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?
Here are 10 of the coolest skoolies ever:
#10: Skoolie with Double-Wall Kitchen and Wood Stove Heater
- Highlights: This skoolie conversion has it all. The front bench seats fold down to form a bed, and in the rear is a large shower and plumbed toilet. The two wall kitchen has a full-sized sink, stove, and oven, plus lots of countertop space. The wood stove provides heat to the whole bus.
- Van: Type B School Bus
- Owner: @lifestooshortbus
#9: Skoolie Build with Full Bathroom, a Cozy Couch, and Washing Machine
- Highlights: This incredible school bus build is huge, and the owners have done a lot with all that space. The front has a dinette, a large couch, and a corner kitchen. The rear of the bus has a huge bathroom and a cozy and private bedroom.
- Van: 2003 Thomas Type D School Bus
- Owner: @outbackskoolie
#8: School Bus with Indoor Ladder Accessed Roof Deck
- Highlights: This all-white school bus conversion has a large slide-down bed in the front. The rear has a kitchen with a huge sink, stove oven, and fridge. The center ceiling has an access door that leads to the roof deck, which you can get up to via the ladder that attaches securely to the ceiling of the bus.
- Van: International 3300 Type C School Bus
- Owner: @sunshinetheskoolie
#7: Skoolie Conversion with Private Bunk-Room for a Family of Five
- Highlights: This bus sleeps five people: two adults in the private primary bedroom, and three kids in a bunk suite in the back. The bedrooms are attached to the rest of the bus by a large bathroom, which then leads into a huge kitchen area, and a large table with double benches.
- Van: Blue Bird Type D School Bus
- Owner: @bussed.free.life
#6: Small School Bus with Private Rear Bedroom
- Highlights: This smaller school bus conversion still has plenty of room for amenities inside. It has a large private rear bedroom, a bathroom, and a single wall kitchen with lots of countertop space. The slide down couch adds a cozy place to relax and extra sleeping room.
- Van: Ford E450 Type A School Bus
- Owner: @thebrokencompassbus
#5: Skoolie Conversion with Rear Bed, Bathroom, and Piano!
- Highlights: This DIY skoolie conversion has a large rear bed next to a small bathroom. The one-wall kitchen sits across from a large bench seat. At the front of a bus is an upright piano.
- Van: Type B School Bus
- Owner: @bayoubabebus
#4: Neon Yellow School Bus Conversion with Dinette, Couch, and Wood Stove
- Highlights: The interior of this bright yellow school bus features a large rear bed, behind a double wall kitchen that contains a full-sized oven and stove. The front of the bus has a dinette, and a large couch. The bus stays warm in Swedish winters with its wood stove.
- Van: Type B School Bus
- Owner: @wayfarer.bus
#3: Compact School Bus Conversion with Rear Bed & Large Kitchen
- Highlights: This smaller school bus build has a side-facing rear bed with storage underneath. The large kitchen takes up a whole wall of the bus and boasts lots of counter space and overhead storage. The front of the bus has a small dining area and a wood stove.
- Van: Blue Bird Type A School Bus
- Owner: @kaibranss
#2: Stunning Skoolie with Clawfoot Tub, and Stained Glass and Porthole Windows
- Highlights: This professional school bus conversion has a large rear bedroom, and a bathroom with a full-sized clawfoot tub. The kitchen area has countertop space, storage, and some booth seating. The bus has super unique windows, including a porthole window in the kitchen, and a stained glass window on the roof.
- Van: Blue Bird Type D School Bus
- Owner: @windrivertinyhomes
#1: High Roof School Bus with Herringbone Ceiling and Office Space
- Highlights: This huge school bus conversion has a raised roof for some extra height. The rear has a bedroom, and a sitting desk, and the middle of the bus has an extra standing desk that can also be used as a food prep area. The front area has a cozy L-shaped bench below a huge window for great views.
- Van: Type D Blue Bird School Bus
- Owner: @theirhappytrails
10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like School Bus Conversions
School buses are spacious, cheaper than many alternatives, & very unique – but are they the best option for vanlife?
Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like living in skoolies:
- Tons of Interior Room: Compared to a van, school buses have lots and lots of room inside. That means you can comfortably fit more people and more amenities inside.
- Completely Customizable: School buses start as a completely blank canvas. Whatever you want to do with all that space is totally up to you.
- Easy to Find: School buses are everywhere and relatively easy to find, you won’t have to shop for long to get your hands on one.
- Lasts a Long Time: Most school buses have diesel engines and can last 300,000 miles or more with proper maintenance.
- Great Online Community: The Skoolie community online is a huge asset. Check out tons of forums and Instagram pages for inspiration, advice, and how-to’s.
- Very Unique: Your school bus will absolutely be one-of-a-kind. If you don’t mind standing out, they have some serious street cred in the van life community.
- Works for Families: With all that extra room, school buses can be a more comfortable option for a family compared to a van.
- Sturdy Build: School buses are built to withstand all types of weather, and to keep kids inside safe during a crash. They’re way sturdier than most RVs on the market.
- Cheaper Than an RV: School buses are way more affordable than RVs–though, you will have to do all the building yourself.
- Different Sizes Available: You don’t have to get a giant school bus if you don’t need it, there are smaller buses out there that are easier to drive around, and get better gas mileage.
6 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike Skoolie Conversions
As with every vehicle, there are downsides to school buses.
Here are 6 reasons why vanlifers dislike living in skoolies:
- Poor Fuel Economy: Unfortunately, most buses get around 10 MPG or less. The fuel costs can add up quickly–especially on long road trips.
- Requires Expert Build Skills: School buses have a lot of interior room, and you’re starting with a blank canvas. You’re going to need to know a lot about carpentry, plumbing, and electrical to build one out.
- Difficult to Park: School buses can’t fit into any regular parking space. You’ll have to seek out special RV parking.
- Costly to Maintain: You’ll probably need to find a specialist mechanic to work on your skoolie, and repairs can be expensive.
- Needs to be Painted: If you live in the U.S., you can’t keep your school bus yellow. Painting the exterior could take a sizable chunk out of your budget.
- Special License Required: To drive a school bus, you’ll need to get a commercial driver’s license from the DMV.
Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy
Now that you know a little more about skoolie conversions, let’s see how the most popular school bus models compare.
School Bus Cost
How much do used school buses cost?
|Type A School Bus||$20,000||Check Price|
|Type B School Bus||$13,000||Check Price|
|Type C School Bus||$22,000||Check Price|
|Type D School Bus||$25,000||Check Price|
School Bus Dimensions
What are the interior dimensions of school buses?
|Model||Interior Height||Interior Length (cargo)||Interior Width||Ext Length|
|Type A School Bus||74 inches||150 inches||90 inches||276 inches|
|Type B School Bus||74 inches||276 inches||90 inches||372 inches|
|Type C School Bus||74 inches||432 inches||90 inches||504 inches|
|Type D School Bus||76 inches||432 inches||90 inches||504 inches|
School Bus Fuel Economy
What kind of fuel economy can you expect from a school bus?
|Type A School Bus||11 MPG||15 MPG||13 MPG|
|Type B School Bus||8 MPG||10 MPG||9 MPG|
|Type C School Bus||6 MPG||8 MPG||7 MPG|
|Type D School Bus||6 MPG||8 MPG||7 MPG|
Conclusion: Is a converted School Bus right for you?
There are a lot of reasons to like school buses: They’re large inside, cheaper than an RV, and completely customizable – but they may not be for you.
- Huge Interior
- Completely Customizable
- Poor Gas Mileage
- Pricey to Maintain
So should you get one?
Maybe! Skoolies are great because of their interior space and ability to customize the living area. However, they are much larger than alternative vehicles like ambulances, step vans, and box trucks and are therefore best for travelers who don’t plan on going to remote places or moving around as often.