Living in a Bus Step 2: Develop a Basic Guide

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m pursuing a lifelong goal of mine: to make my home inside a vehicle. And guess what? I’ve found my dream bus! I feel like the hard part’s over. After extensive searching and shopping, I decided that what I really wanted was a short bus or shuttle bus to be converted into my new home.  I knew buying an RV with all the amenities already set up would be so much easier, but I just wouldn’t be happy.  I’m particular about how things are done.  I wanted a bus that was reliable, not too old, diesel, and small enough to drive and park comfortably. And here she is! I haven’t named her yet, but I’ll think of something by the time this project is finished. 


So I’ve started doing the research and I’ve developed a step-by-step “guide” (work in progress) for converting a bus into a home. This is a very bare bones approach to writing up an official plan, but the way I see it, I might change my mind about a few things as the project goes on. Any feedback from those with experience is welcome!

Step 1: Planning and Research

As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s a good idea to thoroughly research and plan a project before you get started on it.  I now have a rough idea of what I want to do detailed below

Step 2: Buy the Vehicle and Develop a Step-by-Step Guide

I found the perfect bus! I couldn’t plan a lot of the other details until I knew what I was working with.  Basically I have a vehicle that’s already been gutted aside from a few furniture items.  The previous owner used it for camping. 

Step 3: License, Insurance, and Other Legalities

My friend was concerned about insuring the vehicle.  This didn’t even cross my mind until I started doing some research online.

I think I’ll talk to my insurance company in person first and see what kinds of plans are offered. It’s going to be a process getting the bus set up as an actual motorhome, so I’m not sure if I’ll just change insurance types after that or not.

Step 3: Clean and Gut

After I have the bus insured, titled, licensed, and repaired, I can begin the actual conversion process. The seats and other fixtures must be removed.  I have a friend or two who can help me with this process.  I also need to thoroughly clean out the inside and have any rust removed or grinded off.  Finally, I’ll need to apply a layer of primer or anti-rust paint.

Step 4: Bus Layout

I’m going to need to set up the layout in order to determine where all the electrical fixtures, kitchen, etc. is going to be stored inside of the bus. I’m going to need to be able to accommodate the following:

  • A bed
  • Storage for items and clothing
  • Kitchen with mini-fridge, sink, stove top, cabinets
  • Bathroom with toilet and shower fixture
  • Any other furniture can be put in afterward

After I determine the best layout for the van I can start planning the electrical and water system which I think will be the most complicated part of this adventure.

Step 5: Flooring and Framing

I want the inside of the van to have wood paneling.  I’m going to have to find someone who knows how to install that.

Step 6: Electrical Work

The electrical work is going to need to be done by a professional, or a friend who knows how to do it.  I’m not sure how much power I can get from solar panels, so I’ll need to check into that.  I plan on running everything on solar panels and having a back up generator just in case.

I’m not sure how much it will cost to set up the electrical works in the vehicle, but it looks like I’m going to need a few key items:


Step 7: Insulation and Walls

Insulating the bus is important if I want to control the temperature.  Here in the Midwest we have brutal summers and terrible winters. My comfort is important to me and I’m not going to live uncomfortably.

Step 8: Water System: Bathroom and Kitchen

I want to have the simplest system possible to have running water, a bathroom, shower, and sink. I’m also very interested in composting toilets, but I can’t figure out why they’re so expensive! I know I have some options:

Step 9: Furnishings

I plan on buying my own furnishings from flea markets rather than custom building furniture for the bus.  Anything I find will need to be small. I’m hoping to get furniture that can be used for more than one person.  For instance, storage ottomans can hold belongs, while providing seating, and be scooted together at night to make a bed.  I’m going to have to get creative with the space. 

Step 10: Wifi

And finally, I have to have wifi for my job.  I hope there’s a good option for portable wifi that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.  I’ll research this option more when the time comes. 

Step 11: Find a Place to Park

So far the biggest challenge is where I’m going to park.  My hometown is not exactly known for it’s safety or lack of criminal activity, but I’m more worried about getting into legal trouble.  Some people have suggested I park at Walmart because there are lights and cameras, but I think that sounds awful.  I’m going to have to think about it more.

Step 12: Make it Home 

And finally, the last step will be to add any finishing touches to make my bus my new home.  I can’t wait until I reach the last step!

Let the fun begin!



Published by That Hippie Looking Chick

I'm a traveler, adventurer, upcycler, and bus dweller.

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