SCHOOL BUS

CONVERTING A SCHOOL BUS TO AN RV- CONVERSION COST BREAKDOWN

When we converted our yellow school bus into an RV last year, the most commonly asked question was how much did it cost. From the very beginning, we decided to track our spending down to the very last penny, so we would have the answer for you.

Let me start by reminding you that this is what we spent, but there are so many variables that could really change the total cost. Take into account the size of your bus. The longer the bus is, the more amenities you’ll probably add to it. Also consider the height of the bus. Ours was the tallest from factory, which we needed because my husband is quite tall. If our bus had been any shorter, we would have needed to do a roof raise, which can get pricey. Next think about the condition of the bus. For example, our bus did not have any rust, so we did not incur any cost for fixing that, however rust is a common issue with most buses. And most importantly remember that like any remodeling project, the cost completely depends on what you pick, the quality of the products and what you want to include. We wanted all the amenities in our bus, so we included a full kitchen, a bathtub, king size bed with a great mattress, 2 A/C’s and even a washer/dryer combo unit. We definitely spent more on the finishes, however my husband did the full conversion on his own and built almost everything in there, so there’s huge saving associated with that. If you’re having someone build things for you and do some of the work, then you’ll be paying them for their time.

Converted School Bus, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Camping in Arizona, during our 2 month road trip. Converted a yellow school bus into our tiny vacation home on wheels, aka a Skoolie.
Camping in Arizona

Our original goal was to spend no more than $30,000 total. But how often are renovations actually kept on budget? We went over quite a bit, but it could have been so much worse. I broke it down into sections to keep track of it, but here is the grand total…

Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel

We spent just over $41K but that was including every last detail and decoration. It was 30% more than we had hoped to spend, but we decided to include all of the amenities we wanted so that we would be comfortable when traveling in our bus.

As soon as we finished building our bus, we took off on a big road trip. By the way, I’ve traveled a ton, but that has been my favorite trip ever. We spent nearly 3 months traveling the US with our daughter and seeing the most incredible places. Some of my favorite family memories were made on that trip. We don’t regret a single dollar we spent on building our bus.

School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion

Now that you have the grand total, let’s go through it section by section so you can understand where the money went and sort through which of those items you’ll need or can do without.

INITIAL PURCHASE

We purchased our bus in October of 2018. Our bus is a 2005 Thomas Freightliner with a Mercedes Benz engine. It was in great condition, had no rust and only 90,000 miles. We purchased it in Tampa and they delivered it down to us in Miami a few days later, which is why you’ll see a delivery charge on there. If you’re looking for a bus now, take into account that since then skoolies have gotten extremely popular and bus prices have increased.

Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel

DEMOLITION

This is the shortest section by far. My husband did all the demo on his own, and only paid to have the garbage removed once he was done.

Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Demolition during our School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion

ENGINE REPAIR & MAINTENANCE

One of the first things you should do is have the engine looked at and repaired if necessary. We did all of this first to ensure that it was in as good of shape as we expected before spending money on the interior of it.

Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel

BUILDING

The next several sections are the building process. We tracked every last thing we bought down to the penny. Take into account that my husband owned a lot of tools and supplies, so those items do not appear here. 

School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. First family photo inside our bus. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. The electrical process of our buildout. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. The insulating process during the buildout. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel

DESIGN & DETAILS

After the building process was complete, it was time to add in all the fun stuff (at least I think so). Here is all of the design aspects and everything we put to finish it off and make it a useable space.

School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Ready to start adding in the details and decorations. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Ready for our first road trip. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion

The last thing we added, which is far from necessary, is a roof deck. Our roof deck is huge. It is almost the size of the entire bus. It’s a great spot to hang out and stargaze.

Detailed cost analysis of a yellow school bus conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus, the skoolie. Exactly what we spent converting our bus into a vacation home on wheels. #BusConversion #ConversionCost #Skoolie #RVRemodel
School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. On our roof deck in the Badlands. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion

I’d love to hear if you’re converting a bus and what you spent compared to us. What did you add that we didn’t have? What did you skip? I really hope this breakdown helped. And if you have any questions send them my way. We’re always happy to help.

Best of luck on your conversion!

School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion
School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion
School Bus Conversion, 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus. Full analysis of the cost of converting a yellow school bus into a vacation home on wheels. All of the details of our skoolie conversion. Our vacation home that took us on a road trip around the US to see some of the countries most beautiful places. #ConversionCost #SchoolBus #Skoolie #SchoolBusConversion
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