10 Amazing Short Skoolie Conversions
Considering a Short Skoolie Bus Conversion for Van Life?
With their customizability, interior space, and wide availability, short skoolies are a great option.
But what about fuel economy & repairs? And what kind of conversion can you build with a short skoolie?
In this post, we’ll find out.
Here’s everything you’ll learn:
Table of Contents
10 Amazing Short Skoolie Bus Conversions
With lots of interior space, short skoolies provide a great platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?
Here are 10 of the coolest Short Skoolies ever:
#10: Solar-Powered Short Bus Conversion with Cedar Shower
- Highlights: This DIY short skoolie conversion has an L-shaped kitchen across from a cozy couch booth. The cedar shower has a sliding door and storage for a toilet inside. The rear bed sits sideways over a small fridge. The school bus is 100% powered by roof-top solar panels.
- Van: 1993 GMC Thomas Bus
- Owner: @shortsherby
#9: Short Skoolie Build with Workspace and Large Couch
- Highlights: This gorgeous DIY school bus conversion has a long one-walled kitchen with a fridge, sink, stove, and oven. The side wall also includes a work space. Across from the kitchen is a long booth which can be converted into a dinette. The mostly private rear bedroom is partially separated from the rest of the living space.
- Van: Chevrolet Short School Bus
- Owner: @patricknjoa
#8: Short Skoolie with Large Shower, Convertible Dinette, and Lift Bed
- Highlights: This gorgeous skoolie conversion has a simple kitchenette with lots of cabinetry. The tiled shower is spacious and comfortable. The unique rear of the bus has a convertible dinette below a lift bed that raises and lowers to create a sort of bunk bed.
- Van: Chevrolet Short School Bus
- Owner: @gregthoby
#7: Short Skoolie Bus with Large Butcher Block Countertop and Lots of Storage
- Highlights: This Ford E350 bus has a rear bed behind a large wardrobe for storage. The single-walled kitchen has a gorgeous butcher block countertop, a sink, and a fridge. The small dinette space has booths and sits below a window for the perfect work space.
- Van: Ford E350 Passenger Bus
- Owner: @immatakethebus
#6: Converted Short Skoolie with Long Bench Table and Wood Stove
- Highlights: This short school bus conversion has a front kitchen across from a gorgeous wooden bench seat and table that seats three people. The middle of the bus has a “living room” area with some cozy seating. The bus is heated via a real wood stove that sits in the middle of the bus.
- Van: Chevrolet Short School Bus
- Owner: @unitedtinyhouse
#5: Short School Bus Build with Murphy Bed and Shower
- Highlights: This ultra-mini school bus still has all the essential amenities inside. It includes a kitchen, a large fridge and freezer, and a dinette space. The booth of the dinette is located below a murphy bed that pops down. The rear corner has a tall shower with storage for a portable toilet.
- Van: Chevy Van School Bus
- Owner: @birdthebus
#4: Short Skoolie with Convertible Double Benches and Tiny Wood Stove
- Highlights: This short skoolie has rear bench seats that extend into a large queen-sized bed. The two-walled kitchen has lots of countertop space, plus a stove and oven. The bus is heated with a tiny wood stove and cooled with a window air conditioner.
- Van: Ford E350 School Bus
- Owner: @wandathewonderbus
#3: Boho Chic Mini School Bus AirBnB Rental
- Highlights: This gorgeous school bus conversion has a daybed and DIY coffee table that functions as a cozy living space. The kitchen has lots of countertop space and storage, and the cozy bed area is fitted with white lace curtains for privacy.
- Van: Chevrolet 3500 School Bus
- Owner: @unitedtinyhouse (more at airbnb.com)
#2: Skookie Conversion with Small Bed, Dinette, and Cement Shower
- Highlights: This skoolie conversion has a super long kitchen with tons of countertop space across from a dinette. The rear of the bus has a double-sized bed. The private room next to the bed contains a cement-walled shower and room for a portable toilet.
- Van: Chevrolet School Bus
- Owner: @endlesslyroaming
#1: Short School Bus Conversion with Roof Deck and Wet Bath
- Highlights: This mid-sized school bus conversion has a large couch across from a kitchenette with lots of cabinetry. The rear bed sits atop pet carrier storage, and has a TV mounted to the wall. The wet bath area is a private room with a shower and portable toilet.
- Van: Short School Bus
- Owner: @vicari.us
10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like Converted Short Skoolies
Short School buses are spacious, easy to find, & sturdy – but are they the best option for vanlife?
Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like short 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.
- Easier to Maneuver Than a Full-Sized Skoolie: Most short skoolies are between 20-25 feet in length, which is nothing compared to a full-sized bus that can be almost 50 feet long. Short skoolies can go places larger school buses can’t.
7 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike Short Skoolie Conversions
As with every vehicle, there are downsides to Short Skoolie conversions.
Here are 7 reasons why vanlifers dislike Short 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.
- May Require 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 to the max.
- Difficult to Park: Even the shortest 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 may need to get a commercial driver’s license from the DMV.
- Less Interior Room: Compared to a full-sized school bus, short skoolies have less interior room and can ideally sleep around 4 people max.
Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy
Now that you know a little more about short skoolies, let’s see how different popular models compare.
Short Skoolie Cost
Cost: Ford E350 Bus vs Chevy Passenger Bus vs IC Minibus
|Ford E350 Passenger Bus||$25,000||Check Price|
|Chevrolet Passenger Bus||$18,000||Check Price|
|IC Minibus||$22,000||Check Price|
Short Skoolie Dimensions
Dimensions: Ford E350 Bus vs Chevy Passenger Bus vs IC Minibus
|Model||Interior Height||Interior Length (cargo)||Interior Width||Ext Length|
|Ford E350 Passenger Bus||76 inches||156 inches||91 inches||252 inches|
|Chevrolet Passenger Bus||74 inches||150 inches||90 inches||252 inches|
|IC Minibus||74 inches||276 inches||90 inches||372 inches|
Short Skoolie Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy: Ford E350 Bus vs Chevy Passenger Bus vs IC Minibus
|Ford E350 Passenger Bus||11 MPG||15 MPG||13 MPG|
|Chevrolet Passenger Bus||11 MPG||16 MPG||13 MPG|
|IC Minibus||9 MPG||12 MPG||10 MPG|
Conclusion: Is a Short Skoolie Right for you?
There are a lot of reasons to like short skoolies. They’re spacious, inexpensive to buy, & totally customizable – but they may not be for you.
- Low Price & Wide Availability
- Large Interior Space
- Poor Fuel Economy
- Difficult to Repair
So should you get one?
Maybe! We’d recommend short skoolies for vanlifers who travel slow and don’t plan on going off-road.