I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my bus and tell me they’d like to do the same thing. It’s easy to romanticize life in a bus or a camper van while perusing the artsy pictures on Pinterest and Instagram, but it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Trying to live in a vehicle is not an easy life, and it’s certainly not a cheap endeavor. If you’re thinking about converting a bus or camper van into a livable home on wheels, I highly encourage you to do all of the research first. Before you start shopping for that perfect vehicle to call home, you should ask yourself if life on the road is really for you. It might look like a fun and exciting adventure, but it comes with a lot of challenges. Life in a vehicle might not be the best choice if:
1. You are impulsive.
If you’re quick to spend money or start projects with no real plan or budget in mind, you’ll run into all sorts of headaches converting a vehicle. Take your time and thoroughly do your research.
2. You have pets and kids.
Now this one is flexible, but strongly think about how life on the road might be more difficult for your family and fur babies. The cramped space, endless movement, and unconventional lifestyle is easy for an adult. It’s not quite as easy for a dog or child. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it definitely increases the challenges.
3. You’re doing it to save money.
I’ve met a lot of people who want to live in a van because they think they’ll save a bunch of money by not renting a house or apartment. This view is idealistic at best. Buses and vans constantly need repairs of some sort or another and the cost to legally park it can run as much as renting an apartment. If you want to sell your possessions and live in a vehicle to save money, I commend you, but keep in mind there will be unexpected expenses along the way.
4. You don’t have enough money to fund the project.
Speaking of money, do you have the funds necessary to purchase and convert a vehicle? If I had a nickel for every half-finished skoolie I found on Craigslist, I’d have enough nickels to purchase a whole new bus. All joking aside, make sure you’ve got a savings account ready and a budget in mind. I’ve watched too many people barely scrape together enough money to buy a junker, but not enough to repair or convert it. Taking the time to save up funds means more time for planning.
5. You’ll have to rely on others for showers, laundry, and other conveniences.
If you’re going to commit to life in a van, but you’re not ready to give up all the conveniences of living in a home, this lifestyle might not be for you. What’s the point of buying a bus or van, converting it, and trying to live in it just to rely on others for laundry and showers? A lot of people use their gym membership which is also a good idea.
6. You don’t like to be dirty or uncomfortable.
The life looks glamorous on social media, but in reality it gets dirty real quick. The small spaces mean less ventilation. If you’re often traveling, you’ll accumulate dirty clothes, food, and other messes. Trying to keep warm in the winter by wearing layers of clothes means more laundry to do. And trying to keep cool in the summer in a hot metal vehicle means waking up in a puddle of sweat. You’ll especially deal with filth if you’ve got kids or animals in tow. For me, not having a real bathroom was a challenge.
7. You’re unaware or unprepared for the dangers involved.
Living in a vehicle comes with its own set of security risks and potential dangers. If you’re traveling, are you taking all the necessary precautions? Have you signed up for road-side assistance? Does your vehicle have a security system? Do you have a plan if someone were to break in? Do you know where you’ll be parked? Don’t be paranoid, but definitely consider the risks involved.
8. You’re not committed to following the law or getting properly insured.
Don’t cut corners when it comes to the legalities involved with owning a vehicle. Make sure you’re committed to getting it inspected, insured, and in proper working order. You’ll also want to check into any special licensing and getting it titled.
9. You can’t part with your material possessions.
There’s nothing wrong with owning things, but if you can’t part with them to live in your vehicle, then maybe try renting an RV just for fun instead. Personally, I find the freedom of parting with my material possessions to far outweigh owning all the stuff. Less stuff means more freedom.
10. And finally, you have no basic plan in mind for life in a vehicle.
An undertaking like this requires a lot of planning ahead of time. It’s not the kind of thing to be done on a whim. I wish I had planned out more of the project in detail. I probably could’ve saved a lot of money. Still, I’m glad I pursued my dream of living in a bus, and I’m thrilled for anyone who does the same. I don’t want to discourage people with this list, but I do believe it’s important to be informed. If you have doubts or concerns, try renting an RV for awhile to see how you like it before undertaking such a big project. It’s imperative that you develop a basic plan before starting your adventure. I would discourage getting too hung up on the small details, but having the big picture in mind can save you a lot of headaches in the future.