With the soaring cost of housing in the United States, many people are choosing to exit the rat race and seek non-traditional living arrangements. One of the most popular movements has been the “house on wheels” trend, in which people work remotely and travel the country as digital nomads. If this type of lifestyle sounds appealing to you, know that it is better to convert a bus into an RV or purchase a ready-made motorhome.
A bus conversion is a better option than a motorhome; they are longer-lasting, have better safety potential, and allow for greater customization, making them ideal for people living a roving lifestyle.
Although we feel like a bus conversion is the overall better option for RV living, factory-made motorhomes also have some benefits which may be appealing to some segments. The following guide will give a comprehensive breakdown of the pros and cons of performing a bus conversion or purchasing a motorhome directly from the factory.
Bus Conversion vs. Motorhome
A bus conversion, affectionately referred to as a “skoolie” in the RV community, is a burgeoning industry, growing some 400% in the past several years. However, despite many young DIYers preferring the challenge of converting a bus to their dream home on wheels, there is still the more traditional camp that prefers the convenience of a ready-made motorhome.
Therefore, it is important to explore the two options along several important lines to decide which is right for you.
Although it is true that bus conversions can become a bit pricey, especially if you purchase a newer bus and turn to professional contractors to do the conversion work, a used bus with DIY conversion work can be considerably less expensive than purchasing a ready-made motorhome.
A used bus with plenty of miles left on the engine can be purchased for between $15,000 and $30,000. A Class A RV—the largest type of RV with that classic school bus appearance—will run over $100,000, even when used.
The other major consideration is that a bus conversion allows you to pay as you go when money comes available. Maybe you do not have all the money to install your ideal kitchen right now, but you can roll with what you have in the meantime. Conversely, a motorhome must be paid for in one lump sum, usually requiring an expensive loan to complete the transaction.
School buses are designed for heavy travel, required to be constantly on the road transporting children from Point A to Point B. As a result, it is not uncommon for a school bus engine to last more than 15 years and 250,000 miles.
Motorhomes, on the other hand, are designed to be parked to use their homey features. While this may be okay for people who do not plan on traveling much and just want to camp in one place, the interiors of some motorhomes are not well-designed, with the walls peeling and furniture degrading in as little as a few years.
Therefore, if you plan on being on the road a lot and seeing everything this country has to offer in your RV, a converted bus is the better choice.
As vessels for transporting children, school buses are required to have the safest design on the market, framed with reinforced steel to mitigate damage in the event of a collision.
Motorhomes are not nearly as safe, often designed with the same lightweight framing processes as other consumer vehicles, making them less likely than a converted bus to withstand the impact of a collision.
After purchasing a school bus, all you have to do is take out the seats, and you are left with a blank slate to create the RV of your dreams. It is truly your own personal canvas to make as spacious or cozy as you please.
With a motorhome, you have to play with the hand you’re dealt. This may be appealing to people who want to purchase their RV and get to living, with minimal preparation required, but options are very limited on how the interior of a motorhome can be re-designed.
With an estimated 25 million people living out of an RV, people are getting creative with how they can use their vehicles as homes on wheels. While there are definitely plenty of people still purchasing factory-made motorhomes, we have found that purchasing and converting a used school bus, or skoolie, is the preferable option for people living a roving lifestyle.
A converted bus can be low-cost, more durable, safe, and offers a higher degree of customizability than a traditional motorhome, making it perfect for those wanting to live their best lives on the road.