“One year ago today, we said enough with the stable jobs and affordable mortgage, we’re going to buy an old bus and hopefully turn it into something that doesn’t resemble a dumpster,” said Florida-based Beth W. of @usplusabus in a recent TikTok video.
The oft-wry mom of two was celebrating the anniversary of her and her husband Eddie’s decision to join the skoolie movement, the latest trend in tiny home living that entails transforming an old school bus into a cozy, and in some cases, very stylish home on wheels. The two-minute video—which gives a recap of them ripping up “crusty” seats, insulating walls, building custom furniture, and more—is clear proof that the couple has come a long way. And nearly 380,000 TikTok users have followed along with them.
Search trends demonstrate that interest in skoolies has steadily risen in the past five years. The reasons are many: wanderlust; a desire for a minimalist, more sustainable lifestyle; and the ability to fully customize your rig. The National Skoolie Association, which has amassed over 57,000 followers on Instagram, offers glimpses of some of the coolest skoolie inspiration, from roof raises and sleek decks to luxurious baths and enviably cozy kitchens. The design possibilities are endless.
Though skoolies are practical in essence, serving a dual purpose of home and transportation, for some owners, the renovation is integral to their story. As the saying goes, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Here, advice from some of TikTok’s favorite DIYers to turn a school bus into a tiny home.
This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.
Lisa and Megan Donahue, the mom-daughter team behind @livesimplybuses, began their Graham, North Carolina–based business, fixing up and flipping old school buses, as a tribute to their late son-brother, Michael. Shortly before his passing, Michael had tweeted, “It’s the simple things in life that make it worth living.”
“We knew we had to create a legacy that would carry on his life motto,” Megan Donahue says. They wanted to help people reconnect with the simple things—but initially, weren’t sure how.
About five years ago, “while on a drive in the country we passed the Wheeley Mart junkyard. Four rows back from the entrance sat a short white bus that looked like it could have been a prop on a scary movie set.” That shoddy bus inspired the skoolie business that’s still going strong today.
They’ve built and sold 12 skoolies so far. The favorite? A 1995 retired prison bus that they named Spartacus. With all of the trapping of a former prison bus, including metal bars on the windows, Spartacus needed a major facelift. Lisa and Megan began the project with the total demolition of the interior, including the window bars, and then moved on to painting, laying new floors, installing electricity and plumbing, and finally, decorating.
“By the time we finished renovating Spartacus he was a 40-foot mobile log cabin on wheels. Inside the walls were constructed of recycled pallet wood, a sliding barn door for the bathroom, and a custom countertop formed by two cedar trees.” The Live Simply Buses team sold Spartacus to a couple, “who are selling their house and quitting their jobs to travel the country to carry out the ‘live simply’ motto.”