Our Journey

The dreaming all started four years ago in a small, north woods Minnesota town. Two people with wildly passionate souls ended up in the same place, at the right time. Our first place together was small log cabin nestled on a small lake lot. We used to always joke that we could live in the upstairs loft of the 600 square foot cabin. We moved into a bigger place after the cabin, and ended up not using much of the space. In the extra rooms things inevitably began to accumulate and clutter the space. We would throw, donate, and gift our “things” every time we moved, but the clutter always seemed to return. We found ourselves spending time cleaning an apartment we spent little time in, and organizing stacks of possessions we rarely used.
We have always loved to travel, and try to get out of town and go camping as much as we can. Small living was only a dream of ours until we spent almost a month living in our tent, and realized that we really didn’t need most of the stuff we possessed. The past two years we have spent all of our free time camping in beautiful northern Minnesota, and brainstorming how to become more self-sufficient, sustainable, and free.
For almost two years we researched every form of alternative living that we could find. We looked into earth-ships, log cabins, tiny houses, shipping container homes, van conversions, bus conversions, tree houses, refurbished campers, used RVs, yurts, army tents, and gypsy wagons. We decided we would try to build ourselves a 28 foot tiny house on wheels, and after months of research and planning, realized it wasn’t going to work for us. The legal hoops we would have to jump through in addition the price of buying a powerful truck to move the house were too much for us. We felt very defeated after giving up on the tiny house, but were determined to move off the grid, and live a simpler life. Connor then mentioned the idea of a school bus and how many others on YouTube were actually converting buses. I was very hesitant to this idea of school bus living at first. Then, we started to watch YouTube school bus conversions as our daily television time. Shout out to Roll With It Bus, Simply Us Bus, and Ian Robinson’s Bus! We were so inspired watching these conversions and decided a school bus was just the home we were looking for!
Bus shopping was not easy, but we ended up finding a school bus from a local district, and purchased in November of 2017! We have been so inspired by others in the skoolie community and wanted to share our journey, just in case there are others who are on the fence! This year has been all about changes for us and we decided to ride the wave of change with a positive outlook on the future. We took major steps to transform our lifestyle and take on the largest project we have ever attempted, together!
Connor & Shaina

 

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Featured post

The Purge: 28 Days = 406 Items

With the universe aligning for change, we decided to ride the wave of energy. Change has been our main focus for the past year. The change all started when we purchased the school bus and dedicated our lives to building a home that would allow us more freedom. Evaluating what ties us down is a difficult task. We wanted to take a big step towards managing our new lifestyle as well as letting go of things that no longer serve us to allow us that freedom. We thought it would be easy to just start getting rid of the “things” that caused us immobility and stress. It sounds like a simple task, take all of the belongings you no longer need and get rid of them. Right? Super simple! Wrong.

It takes a ton of time, energy, and work to go through your items in your home and decide what you are going to keep and what gets the boot! We currently live in a modest apartment roughly 1,000 square feet. We have resided in the same apartment for 3 years now, which allowed for us to accumulate a ton of things! Our home has very little storage which made me find any empty space behind the couch, under the bed, storage boxes stacked high in the closet, etc. Any little space I could find, I crammed it full of useless junk! (Okay, so it might not all be junk, just items but still) Some of these storage boxes and crammed spaces, have stuff still hidden since we moved in three years ago! How does one person have items in their home that they don’t even know exist!? This absolutely blew my mind! In my early years of college I was moving every 6 months to a year. I didn’t accumulate much because I knew I would soon be packing it back into boxes and moving it. I knew I would be moving it, so I would donate, sell, and trash all of the “stuff” I no longer needed. And I didn’t want to carry all of that crap, ever again! Don’t get me wrong, I really love the apartment we live in. It’s a beautiful craftsman triplex, with original hard wood floors, high efficiency appliances, beautiful wood work, and original early 1900’s glass book cases! We have tons of memories here as well! BUT… it’s a financial burden for us. We are getting rid of the 1,000 sq. ft. apartment and almost 75% of our belongings to move into our 262 sq. ft. school bus!

Yes, we know this might sound “crazy” to you. In reality, we don’t use that much of our apartment anyways and we both work full time and barely spend anytime at home. What’s the point of having a huge house when you spend the majority of your time just sleeping in one room or leaving it empty all day? We have been donating, selling, and trashing some of our belongings for the last several months. I have a whole stack of items by our door that needs to go! These items were easy to get rid of but now comes the hard part, what do we get rid of next? What do we keep? Do we make a system? Should we have a minimalist party? After reading a few minimalist books and blogs, listening to podcasts based around the idea of minimizing the items in your home, we decided to make our own minimalist challenge.

We decided on a month long challenge for February! The challenge consists of getting rid of items in your home based upon the date (February 1st = 1 item, February 2nd = 2 items, February 10th = 10 items, February 28th = 28 items, etc) for the entire month! At the end our “February Minimalist Challenge” we will have donated, sold, trashed, or gifted 406 items out of our home! 28 days = 406 items! These items can be of our choice and can be as large or as small as we would like. The challenge starts today, February 1st and we trashed old paperwork that we had stored in our file cabinet! We have been working on our tax returns and felt it was a good time to get rid of any old bills, reminders, receipts, etc. that were no longer useful. This was more then just 1 item, so we are off to a great start!!

To us, minimalism doesn’t mean getting rid of everything that you own to live in a white sterile space. We also believe that minimalism can mean different things to different people. We have taken this approach and altered it to fit our needs and lifestyle. We are taking it slowly so we don’t overwhelm ourselves all at once. Going through your items can be timely and frustrating. After you go through the items you still have to figure out what you are going to do with them. Then, you have to physically put them up for sale, drive them to the donation center, or bring your trash to a recycling center. This all takes time and energy. We started a few months ago getting rid of clothes that we hadn’t worn in 6-9 months. I have a big pile of garbage bags full of clothing and boxes full of random college leftovers. Today, I grabbed two of the bags full of college school supplies and brought them to Bemidji State University’s “Free Store”! I made the conscious effort to drop these bags off while I was running other errands, so it didn’t seem like a daunting task! The students will also get a good use out of these supplies and reusing is the best policy. Yes, I know I could have just thrown all of that stuff in the garbage and been done with it, but why waste things when other people are in need?

We know minimalism and tiny living isn’t for everyone, but we like to share our journey of how we are making small changes in our lives to become more mindful people. It’s still a learning process for us. We are constantly trying to educate ourselves on alternative living styles, mindfulness, and being present. We hope that you find a little bit of inspiration to make that small change you’ve been wanting in your life. It makes the soul feel good!

Please feel free to hold us accountable for our February Minimalist Challenge! Hop on over to our Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube  and send us a message or leave a comment to make sure we stay on task!

Until next time,

Shaina & Connor

Why We Chose a School Bus Conversion

After college graduation, stumbling through different jobs, trying to make ends meet, and spending less and less time with each other, we decided we wanted a change. And when I say we wanted a change, we wanted to completely change our entire lifestyle. We spent a many of nights, staying up late, chatting about what we wanted our future to look like as well as what we didn’t want it to look like. We scratched ideas and drawings on paper, sipped on coffee, and talked about all the cool places we would go adventuring!  Together, we brainstormed and researched many different types of alternative lifestyles that would allow us more personal freedom, time to travel, and financial freedom! And yes, we ended up with a school bus! We always get the question, “But, why a school bus?”

After years of planning, researching, saving money, and dreaming of a building our own tiny home, our plans came to an immediate halt. As federal and state regulations started to sweep the tiny house movement, we really had no choice but to put aside our tiny home dreams. We were both very defeated and felt like we had no other options and we had to take out a mortgage and purchase a standard American home.  Which, is great for many, but not for us. As we are in the midst of trying to save our money and not go further into debt, we decided we were not purchasing a home and the research began again! This time, we did not limit ourselves and let our creative minds run wild!

YouTube became our best friend! Watching people build yurts, earth homes, gypsy wagons, tree houses, and even a fire truck conversion, we found the school bus conversions! We watched all of these amazing people in this super optimistic community convert school buses into tiny homes on wheels! They called them, ‘skoolies’ and Connor was intrigued! I was not so excited at first, but after watching videos and seeing how rewarding and accomplishing a project like this really was, I was all in! Anything, so I could live in a tiny home on wheels, right? I was just happy to have a steel structure to work with instead of just a trailer!

Skoolies are a subculture inside of the tiny house movement. Skoolies actually originated from the 1960’s but began to die out when people wanted larger homes. Once the tiny house movement spiked, skoolies made their comeback! A skoolie is a school bus that is transformed into a home or RV.  It’s easier to move then a tiny house and already has a structure for you to build onto! Did you know the average american household size has essentially increased by 50% in the last 40 years? Since, 1973, American homes have increased by 1,000 square feet and the average household size in the United States is 2,600 square feet! Tiny homes average anywhere between 100 square feet to 700 square feet! Making the space in the home very precious! Our current apartment is roughly 1,500 square feet, and is used mostly for storage! We have concluded we only really use three rooms in our entire home: bathroom, kitchen, and our 4 season porch! We started to really question all of our belongings and whether or not they were really necessary and how we were going to make this ‘stuff’ work inside our bus.

From the planning process to the actual purchase of the bus, it took us about 8 months to find and purchase the school bus! The day that we purchased, we felt a huge sigh of relief! Even though, we were going to be putting a lot of time, money, and effort into this school bus conversion, we knew the moment the transaction went through, and we were officially bus owners, all the years of planning, researching, and dreaming, finally paid off! We were finally changing our lifestyle! Even though, plans didn’t go accordingly, we modified our structure and were so happy with our choice! So, why the school bus?

WHY WE PURCHASED A SCHOOL BUS: 

  1. Smaller Spaces = Less Work and Bigger Savings
  2. Having Less ‘Stuff’
  3. Energy & Environment
  4. Travel More
  5. Time
  6. Freedom
  7. Seeing Each Other More Often
  8. To Experience Building A Home Together
  9. Pay Off Our Debt
  10. Live With Less

Our goals for this project were to have more time together and experiencing the world while doing the things we love! Our favorite place to be together is in nature. We love to experience the world through hiking, camping, canoeing, snowshoeing, and biking! Nature is our reset. In order to travel and indulge in experiences, you need money! While we both work full-time jobs, we sometimes don’t always have the cash or savings to just up and go! In order to fulfill our debts and save money to travel, we thought we would find a way to lower our rent payment, utility payments, and kill old habits that were costing us money. Alas, we purchased the school bus so we could save more money, travel, spend more time together, clean less and wander more! We love sharing our journey and hope to educate, inspire, and connect with others who on are on the same path! The adventure continues!

“Love grows best in little houses, with fewer walls to separate. Where you eat and sleep so close together, you can’t help but communicate. And if we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss. Love grows best in houses just like this.”

If you would like to follow us on our school bus conversion journey, check out our YouTube Channel, Instagram, and Facebook!

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