Top School Bus Tiny House Ideas – Conversion Guide 2021

If you want to know more about top school bus tiny house ideas in 2021, then read our detailed guide. When it comes to the tiny home lifestyle, there are many brilliant ways to downsize your current lifestyle and start living small. While we have come across many brilliant tiny home ideas, including shipping containers and beautifully designed tiny homes on wheels, school bus conversion is becoming pretty popular among the tiny home community. Skoolies, as they are also fondly called, allow tiny home enthusiasts to think outside the box in a bid to live their fantasies.

Let us tell you right from the get-go that skoolies offer a robust, blank slate for intrepid DIY adventurers looking to live out their fantasies and adventures on the road without digging too deep into their pockets. Even though the thought of living in a mini school bus conversion sounds exciting and all shades of fun, keep in mind that fueling can be pretty expensive. Not just that, finding a spot to park your home can be pretty challenging. Overall, living in skoolies sounds more appealing as an idea than the real thing. But if you think you can live with all of these not-so-cool sides of skoolies, living in a school bus conversion wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

In today’s post, we will cover some exciting school bus conversion ideas. But before then, let’s quickly run you through some basics to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about school bus conversion.

School bus conversion: What is it?

Skoolies are one of the most exciting areas of the tiny home lifestyle. While we have seen many tiny home enthusiasts leverage shipping containers to fashion out their dream homes, the tiny home industry is increasingly seeing a new set of designs, with skoolies leading the pack. For those who have no idea, let’s tell you right from the get-go that skoolies are renovated buses converted into elegant homes. Converting school buses to tiny beautiful homes is upcycling at its finest. Upcycling is a fantastic art of converting, something that can no longer be used for its original purposes into something incredible.

Once they have been transformed, school bus conversion homes become both an RV and a tiny home on wheels. And just like traditional RVs, skoolies don’t require a separate car to tow them. That said, the conversion of school buses to upscale skoolies has made them one of the most attractive tiny homes on wheels anyone can ever own.

Most school buses used for skoolies measure between 245 to 300 square feet on the inside. But this is only after the seats have been removed. On the flip side, most shipping container homes measure between 160 square feet.

School bus conversion: The art of conversion

Like with every tiny home project, there is no golden rule that should be adhered to when converting a school bus to a tiny home. That said, the first thing you’ll need to do is take out all the rows of seats. Also, many tiny home enthusiasts like to take out the ceiling and standard flooring to provide extra space to play with.

Can you make school bus conversion bigger?

Many people have been able to get some extra space into their school bus home. By making some structural changes like dropping the floor and raising the roof, you can get some extra space to make your school bus home livable. Doing this not only gives you more space but also gives you some extra leg and headroom. It also improves airflow ventilation. That said, making these structural adjustments may require some professional help, especially if this is your first time taking on such a project. Notwithstanding, other aspects of the school bus conversion process are DIY-friendly.

How do you insulate a school bus tiny home?

Having a nicely insulated school bus home will save you all the stress of running the bus heater overnight to stay warm. Remember that a tiny home’s heat transfer on a school bus happens mainly via windows, floors, and walls. When it comes to types of insulation used for a school bus conversion, we have found that many tiny home enthusiasts use insulation like mineral wool, XPS or polyiso rigid board, sheep wool, or spray foam.

And just so you know, each of these school bus conversion insulation options comes with its pros and cons. To this end, you need to take some time to consider all of the benefits that come with each insulation option and make your choice. Also, you need to consider other factors like recommended thickness, R-value per inch, resilience, health, and lifespan.

When it comes to personal preference, we like spray foam insulation because of the exciting benefit it offers. For starters, it’s pretty easy to fill up cavities along walls using spray foam insulation. More so, this option provides a higher R-value per inch when compared to other insulation options out there. However, after using spray foam insulation, you need to let it dry completely before proceeding to seal up with your chosen materials. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a sustainable school bus home, you’ll not be disappointed to opt for sheep wool insulation as it is gaining momentum by the day.

Is it possible to build extra rooms in a school bus home?

If you plan on having separate rooms in your school bus home, you’ll need to be creative and do some basic framing to demarcate the bathroom/shower or bedroom. And after completing the framing for your floor plan, don’t forget to install water and gas plumbing. Make sure you also include a tankless water heater in the mix. This will ensure you make the most of your space. There is also a need to install grey water, black water, and portable water tanks. If managing your space is top of your list, then we recommend creating an outdoor shower option.

Electrical considerations for a school bus conversion

Since most school bus tiny homes run on solar panels, basic wiring needs to be done right from the very get-go. And while doing this, please ensure that your wiring connects all lights, basic HVAC system, and electrical appliances you may want to install in your home.

School bus conversion and storage ideas

The fun part of school bus conversion includes finishing the cabinet, bathrooms, countertops, bedrooms, and other living areas. But despite the limited space you have to play with, you also have to make rooms for storing essentials. Even though there isn’t so much space in your home, you can make use of wall shelving, under-floor storage, vertical spaces, furniture with storage compartments, bed storage, and more.

Using these options will solve most of your storage problems. Also, you can look through YouTube videos to learn more about small bus conversion storage ideas.

Is school bus conversion expensive?

School bus conversion can cost anywhere between $5000 to $30,000. But keep in mind that what you end up spending depends on how sleek you want your interior to be. It also depends on how much work you put into the project.

As per the cost of the school bus, you can routinely come across deals that cost around $50,000. On the flip side, you can find some fantastic deals on used buses that cost between $3,000 to $7,000. While the whole idea behind school bus conversion is to upscale older buses, you still want to make sure you purchase a reliable bus that won’t cost you a ton of money in expensive repairs. A simple search on Google will present you with some impeccable options when shopping for used school buses.

How you can save money on a school bus conversion

There are several ways to save money on your school bus conversion project. Read on to find some exciting tips:

  • Visit architectural salvage stores to check out their catalog of used building materials. Another place you should be looking at is Habitat for Humanity Restores, as they have an extensive collection of different building materials you can use for the conversion process.
  • Get creative with your interiors. Instead of just buying expensive wood sidings for your walls or ceilings, it won’t hurt to opt for old wood pellets to build attractive and natural wood siding options.

With school buses, you have more than enough interior to build a living area, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. But if you want to save some extra cash on electrical installation, you won’t go wrong considering fitting your school bus conversion home with marine and RV electrical products. They are less expensive and compact. Plus, they run on DC electricity. This means you may not need to get an inverter if you buy a small solar system to power your school bus tiny home.

School bus conversion floor plans

When it comes to school bus conversion floor plans, there are many things you want to put into consideration. For starters, the average width of a standard skoolie is nearly 90 inches. And if you’re lucky enough, you may find buses with lengths between 25 to 45 feet. If you end up with a school bus with these dimensions, you can easily carve out the interior of your school bus home into several rooms. Read on to see some examples of floor plans.

The master backroom

With this unique floor plan, you can carve out space for a full-size queen bed at the back of the bus. You can also have a bunk to accommodate up to 4 people in the front of the bus. This can be just behind the driver’s seat. In between the nicely demarcated sleeping area, you can make room for a pantry, shower/small toilet, cooking galley, and maybe a small space for your fridge. This floor plan design is great if you have a large family.

The short wheel-base

If you have a small school bus that measures between 30 to 35 square feet, you’ll find this floor plan worth giving a try. Also, if you’re going to be doing a lot of driving, you will love this bus size as it is easier to maneuver, especially if you live in larger cities. Unfortunately, due to the short length of your preferred bus, you have to be very creative with your living room area.

To fully maximize your space, you can have your living space just behind the driver’s seat. This should be followed by a kitchen and dining area. Given the size of your bus, you can still have booth-style dining. You can incorporate a queen size bed just at the back of the bus.

The double porch floor plan

While one of the main perks of living in a school bus tiny home is the ability to start the bus and move your home around at your convenience, these types of tiny homes can also be more of a permanent home. To this end, a floor plan with two attached porches will help you maximize your limited space.

If you plan to stay put in a particular area for some time, you’ll love this floor plan. The additional outdoor living space will be attached to a bigger living room. Sure, this might take up a fourth of the interior, but it is worth it. You can also get creative and cut out a small area for the master bedroom and a bunk room if you have kids.

Note: These floor plans discussed above are not a holy grail; instead, they are just ideas anyone looking to convert school buses to permanent residences should consider. If you have something different, feel free to incorporate it. Your school bus tiny home should be built according to your specifications at the end of the day. Also, you can reach out to a professional to come up with a customized floor plan that ticks all your boxes.

For other excellent school bus conversion floor plan ideas, you can check out the guys at houseplans.com for tons of incredible skoolie plans. Trust us when we say you will get an idea or two to inspire your perfect floor plan.

School bus tiny homes for sale

Converting a school bus into a sleek tiny home you can drive around and tour the country with may sound like a great DIY project. But guess what? This project may take several years to complete if you opt to go the DIY route. That said, if you’re interested in getting your own school bus tiny home without waiting several years, you’re welcome to read further as we will be showing you some fantastic places you can get ready-made school bus tiny homes. Just so you know, there are tons of companies out there that specialize in designing, finding, gutting, and purchasing ready-made life in school buses.

First on our list is Skoolie Homes. This fantastic company offers a brilliant portfolio of different-sized school bus homes for sale. Some of their school bus homes go for $35,000. And the cool part is that they offer private financing. While the company now mass produces school homes, you can also hit them up if you’re looking for a custom-built school bus home.

To give you a background, Skoolie.com started off as a custom school bus conversion company. They specialize in building dream homes for avid minimalists, nomads, and adventurers. Besides building school bus homes, the company is highly experienced in custom woodworking, roof raises, mechanical systems, welding fabrications, etc. Recently, the company has shifted its attention from complete builds, design work, and consulting to strictly supplying school bus home fanatics with high-quality parts and kits for their DIY project.

Besides getting ready-made school bus conversion homes, you can also get used skoolies. So if you think you don’t have the money for a new one, nothing is stopping you from getting a used school bus home. Plus, there are tons of websites that will provide you with information on used school bus homes. Simply surf through Google, and you’ll be surprised at the number of options available for you.

Types of school bus conversion sizes

When it comes to school bus conversion, size is of the essence. While some school bus home enthusiasts will want something small, others prefer buses with quite some space. Read on to find the major types of school bus conversion in terms of size.

Short buses

Short buses for skoolies are a brilliant option for several reasons. On the one hand, short buses are easier to maneuver than other larger buses on the market. More so, since they are easier to drive, you can easily fit them in most parking spots. With short buses, you can run quick errands, including grocery shopping or visiting the gym.

Who are short buses meant for?

Short buses are the best option for one or two people. And if you don’t want to tow your tiny home with an extra car, you’ll not be disappointed to give short buses a try. Plus, they are pretty easy to park.

Cons

Even though a short school bus home allows users to move around easily, you’ll be sacrificing a ton of space if you opt for a short bus. Besides the shortage of space, you also have to make sacrifices for what you want. For instance, many short buses may not have space to build a shower or toilet.

Medium-sized buses

Medium-sized buses are an excellent option for people who want a lot of space in their tiny homes. Compared to short buses, medium-sized buses give you plenty of space to play with. These types of buses come with all of the exciting features you’ll find on full-sized buses, including engine, style, and wheel size.

Pros of medium-sized buses

Medium-sized buses can accommodate two people, children, and even pets. And yes, we also like that they are easier to maneuver, especially when you compare them to full-sized buses. If you’re looking for a school bus home that can get into tight boondocking spots, you’ll not be disappointed to give medium-sized buses a try.

Cons of medium-sized buses

One of the letdowns of medium-sized buses is that you can’t fit them into one parking space. Also, they are more challenging to come across. That said, with a bit of patience, you may just come across one that ticks all your boxes.

Full-sized buses

If what you want is a spacious school bus that allows you to build your dream school bus home, especially one with tons of rooms, you’ll not be wrong to opt for a full-size school bus or coach. And unlike medium-sized buses that are pretty scarce, full-sized school buses are available all the time. Plus, they don’t cost a fortune, which is great if you’re on a budget.

Pros of full-sized buses

A full-sized tiny home is perfect for three people. As a matter of fact, we have heard stories of eight people living on a coach bus. Even though coaches aren’t skoolies technically, they measure up to 45 ft and provide enough headroom.

If you’re not looking to do boondocking and would instead prefer to use your school bus home primarily for transportation, a full-sized bus will come in handy.

Cons of full-sized buses

Our genuine concern about full-sized buses is that they can reach almost 45ft in length. This makes it quite tricky to drive and park. More so, driving a full-sized skoolie will need some getting used to, especially if you get one with an air brake. More so, finding a parking space for full-sized buses can be a little challenging, especially in massively populated cities. So before deciding if a full-sized bus is what you want for your skoolie, factor in some of the issues raised above.

Top tiny home ideas to inspire you

Now that you know a thing or two about school bus conversion homes, it’s time to show you some brilliant school bus home ideas to inspire your skoolie project. Read on to learn more.

The one-sided bus conversion

This one-sided bus conversion designed by @going_boundless on Instagram is one of the best skoolie conversions we have come across. The guys did an incredible job, especially with the farmhouse sink. Also, we love how they left one side of the bus open. This made the school bus home feel a lot more open.

And just so you know, they still have all the essentials, including a couch, a washer/dryer combo, a full-sized kitchen, and a closet. The washer ensures that they can do laundry inside the school bus home. If you’re looking to maximize the space on your school bus home, you’ll not be disappointed to pick an inspiration or two from this brilliant skoolie conversion.

The tiny school bus conversion

Nothing screams minimalistic than this school bus conversion. This brilliant skoolie from @fernthebus features six brilliant windows. Plus, they did a fantastic job maximizing every available space. We like that the team behind this superb project kept everything raw wood and white paint. This helps keep their space open and bright, especially for a bus with limited space. While most people with kids will opt for full-sized buses, these guys went for a small bus and made the most of the available space.

The cozy school bus house

Thanks to its butcher block countertops, gray couch cushions, and dark cabinets, this school bus home stands out from many we have come across. From what we have seen so far, we can all agree that @smallandsimplebus did an impressive job with their school bus home design.

Another area where the team outdid themselves is with their window finishing. Plus, we fell in love with the light and bright ceiling they installed. Let us also add that the team behind this project fitted a custom-built pallet wood table, which adds extra glam to their interior.

The cozy and sleek modern bus conversion

If you want a modern school bus conversion that looks all shades of gorgeous, you’ll not be disappointed to check out this extraordinary school bus home design. We love how the guys at @basicallynomads framed out their kitchen area using backsplash. Also, their desk area looks stunning, especially with the two of them sitting across from each other.

They did a superb job with their cubic mini wood stove, which they installed just next to their kitchen. For people with a small school bus, this is a good idea you should incorporate in your home. We also like how they installed their RV furnace right next to the desk area. This will prove immensely helpful in winter.

Bright, gorgeous, and light school bus conversion

This school bus conversion home is simply off the top, and we are impressed with how the team left the kitchen open, especially since it has no upper cabinets. This allows you to get a good glimpse of the entire school bus when you glance at the center of the bus. Even though this school bus home is missing upper kitchen cabinets, @slothhighfive still did a fantastic job with their storage space as they included a double-sided kitchen and underneath cabinets.

Also, they have storage bins nicely installed next to their kitchen. If you have always been worried about not having enough space for storage, you’ll love how the team behind this project executed theirs perfectly. Another thing we cannot help but notice is the fact that the team opted for the DynaGlo propane heater.

The mid-century school bus conversion

There is something immensely satisfying about this school bus conversion design. We are thrilled with their clean symmetrical lines, nicely sanded plywood coupled with the soft and open design of the layout. When it comes to unique school bus conversion design, we think the guys @gilliganphantom did a remarkable job than any school bus home project we have come across before.

It doesn’t only look fresh but also clean. If you’re struggling to develop an idea for your school bus conversion, you can borrow an idea or two from this project.

The shiplap school bus conversion

There are not many school bus conversion homes that wow us like the shiplap school bus conversion project. This stunning school bus home is all shades of gorgeous and features all of the basic amenities that will guarantee a relaxing experience.

While the guys @happyhomebodies don’t seem to have much space to play around with, they have managed the available space so beautifully that anyone will be impressed by their project. Also, we like how they raised the roof to provide extra headroom.

With the front dash looking like a scene from a Disney movie, everyone would love to spend a night in this school bus conversion home. If you have a school bus you’re looking to turn into a tiny home; you’re sure to get an idea or two from the shiplap school bus conversion project.

Frequently asked questions

How much would it cost to turn a school bus into a home?

Turning a school bus into a home will cost you quite a sum. While some people end up spending $10,000 for their school bus conversion, we have seen many people spend as much as $35,000 for their school bus conversion home. At the end of the day, it all depends on your budget and your unique customization.

What is the perfect school bus to convert into a home?

While there are many school buses you can convert into an RV or home, we have found the Crown SuperCoach worth giving a try. Besides looking brilliant during the conversion process, this bus features a mid-range diesel engine and stick shift setup. More so, it is super easy to maintain.

How much would it cost to convert a school bus into an RV?

Converting a school bus to an RV may sound like a fun project, but guess what? It doesn’t come cheap as we have seen some school bus conversion costs as high as $20,000 to $30,000.

Is living in a school bus legal?

Depending on state to state and the stipulating laws in your state that you have to abide by before living in your bus it is important to know where you can and cannot live in your converted school bus home. Many other factors include registration and insurance along with the necessities of access to running water, toilets and electricity will heavily impact the way you live depending on the state you’re in.

In any case camp grounds are the safest option if you are unsure where to park it in for the night and you are worried about being on the wrong side of the law.