Short wheel base skoolie conversion

10 Amazing Short Skoolie Conversions

Key takeaways

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.

10 Amazing Short Skoolie Bus Conversions

With lots of interior space, short skoolies & full-size school bus conversions 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 bus features vinyl campervan friendly flooring and 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 convertible 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


#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 large 12 volt flatscreen TV mounted to the wall. The wet bath area is a private room with a shower and portable toilet.
  • Van: Short School Bus
  • Owner:


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:

  1. 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.
  2. Completely Customizable: School buses start as a completely blank canvas. Whatever you want to do with all that space is totally up to you.
  3. 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.
  4. Lasts a long Time: Most school buses have diesel engines and can last 300,000 miles or more with proper maintenance.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Works for Families: With all that extra room, school buses can be a more comfortable option for a family compared to a van.
  8. 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.
  9. Cheaper Than an RV: School buses are way more affordable than RVs–though, you will have to do all the building yourself.
  10. 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:

  1. Poor Fuel Economy: Unfortunately, most buses get around 10 MPG or less. Fuel costs can add up quickly (which is a problematic part of van life) –especially on long road trips.The fuel costs can add up quickly–especially on long road trips.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Costly to Maintain: You’ll probably need to find a specialist mechanic to work on your skoolie, and repairs can be expensive.
  5. 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.
  6. Special License Required: To drive a school bus, you may need to get a commercial driver’s license from the DMV.
  7. 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

Model City Highway Combined
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.

Biggest factors:

  • 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.


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