“Someone wants to trade me a school bus for my motorcycle”, laughed Steven with his roommate Mitch, over a couple of … root beers back in college.

At first, it was laughable. Why in the world would a twenty-two-year-old want to trade in his motorbike for a school bus… right?

Well thanks, Pinterest!

Needless to say, the trade went through. Over the course of the next year, Steven and Mitch, with the help of a few amazing friends turned what was just a 1991 International Bluebird 72 Passenger School Bus into a badass, rustic full-time home named Judy, the Skoolie.

School bus conversions
bus before the renovation

Steven lived in the bus for a year and somehow survived a Saskatchewan winter without turning into a popsicle.

Not only did he survive, but it was also on a much smaller budget. The upfront cost of the conversion was the investment, but comparing it to the cost of a mortgage, the conversion wins every time.

Trickling down the cost savings into other aspects of his life, he made a deal with a local horse stable outside Saskatoon to exchange work on the farm for a free spot to park and plug the bus in!

Live in a school bus

Living in roughly 300 sq ft of space also means you collect much less junk and shop way less. How much junk do you have in your space right now that you haven't looked at or touched in months! By living outside the city, it meant less “treat” runs, less unwarranted spending, and for an added perk… it meant healthier eating habits. No, that didn’t mean he was stalked up on avocado toast (LOL).

He even went as far as cutting off cable and internet and swapping it out for a better phone plan and used his phone's hotspot for a wifi connection!

Comfy skoolie reno and decor

Imagine this… living inside your own custom built 300 sq ft off-grid tiny home without a massive mortgage and hefty monthly bills, nor collecting useless junk to fill the space of an overpriced 2000 sq ft home.

Living the dream while actually saving money with the ability to start your home up and take it on an adventure whenever you please!

Sounds almost unrealistic, doesn’t it?

Off the grid bus conversion

Little did Steven & Mitch know that this would lead to an awesome business opportunity. Fast forwarding 4 years later, they now build these custom off-grid homes and adventure vehicles for people across North America!

With the over-inflated housing market in major cities across Canada, people like you and I are seeking out different avenues that actually make sense. Not only financially, but for the lifestyle that they want to live and build!

Paved To Pines most recent builds, and some of their favorites, went to areas of Ontario and British Columbia residents where house prices average out at CA$588,900 and CA$720,000 respectively!
(Compare this to a custom Paved To Pines build starting at only 49k for vans and 60k for buses!)

skoolie conversion inspiration

I’m all about the tiny home, van and skoolie conversion movement. The realization that ‘less is more’ has been the most eye-opening revelation of my life, and I attest it to giving me back my freedom of choice. By realizing I didn’t need as much space as I thought, it opened up a new world of possibilities, but most importantly – prompted me to ask some important questions about how I want to live my life.
“Why should I bury myself with a mortgage that keeps me tied down through my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s?” “Why did I feel a need to keep up with the Jones’s? and keep acquiring more stuff?” “Why did I think that the more money I spent, the more my own self-worth would increase?”

Personally, I have chosen to live in a roughly 300 sq ft RV parked by the lake. My tiny lifestyle has given me so much, including freedom, time, space and extra cash in my pocket, but more than that – it’s given me a feeling I’ve been chasing all my life – being content with what I have.

Kashlee Kucheran living in a RV

Since my life has literally been transformed through minimalism, I went on a hunt to find others who’ve found freedom through the same movement. That is how I came across the guys at Paved to Pines.

Being a fellow Canadian myself, and a former Realtor, I know how much pressure young people in this country are under when it comes to buying a house. That’s why I wanted to cover some of the alternatives out there. Paved to Pines offers some incredibly cool, efficient and super versatile van/bus conversions that might just be the alternative option you were looking for.

Here are a few examples of what these guys can do:

The Dog House - Paved to Pines skoolie conversion

School Bus (Skoolie) Conversions

Starting at $60k 

Off Grid Skoolie – “Buster”

live off the grid in an old school bus
Bus turned into tiny home
Now, when I first heard the words ‘off grid' I kind of imagined this whole “hippy” lifestyle where you're in the middle of nowhere growing your own food and scavenging for life supplies daily.
 
I think that's a common misconception.
 
The benefits of having an off-grid house/camper are actually amazing. Having an off-grid unit means you're not using power from the grid, or relying on a service company. You are harnessing renewable energy, like solar, to power your electronic system.
 
The main thing for most of their builds is that you'll be able to adventure/live for as long as you want and be able to power your electronics by using the power of the sun! That leaves you feeling good about your lifestyle change as you'll be leaving a much smaller carbon footprint.
off grid skoolie conversion

Buster, was converted into an off-grid unit with:

  • 400 watts of solar power
  • 300 amp/hour battery bank
  • Wood burning fireplace
  • Fully custom kitchen with household appliances
  • A fold-down office and murphy bed area
  • Off-grid/composting toilet
  • Full standup shower
  • Washer/Dryer combo
  • Instant hot water
  • 100 gallon water tank
  • Custom lighting and sconces

See more of Buster

Custom Skoolie – “The Doghouse”

red school bus made into mobile home
Before and after of a bus renovation into tiny home

The Doghouse, has been converted for a firefighter to travel and hopefully live in one day, it includes:

  • 300 watts of solar power
  • 200 amp/hour battery bank
  • Entertainment area and surround sound and a wine cooler
  • Fully custom kitchen with household appliances
  • Bartop and kitchenette
  • Fully tiled shower
  • Queen sized bedroom
  • RV water heater
  • A/C and Heat
  • See more of The Doghouse
before and after skoolie conversion

There's always a personal story behind every bus or van conversion. They might be a weekend warrior looking to escape the grind, a digital nomad traveling and working from their laptop, or a family living in a school bus creating memories that last a lifetime.

What’s your story? And could you live/travel in a bus or van? ↓

A thank you to the guys at Paved to Pines for allowing me to interview them and showcase their amazing skoolie conversions. Follow them on Instagram for more tiny-living and nomad life inspiration!

Related Minimalism Posts

→ How much it costs to live in an RV
→ The 10 best (and coolest) RV accessories under $30
→ Why minimalists are able to travel more

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