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5 Reasons To Avoid Skoolies & Bus Conversions


skoolies

5 Reasons To Avoid Skoolies & Bus Conversions

There seem to be endless videos and websites online promoting skoolies that have sweet paint jobs and gorgeous interiors, made by enthusiastic RV owners who make it seem super easy to embrace the skoolie lifestyle. However, skoolies and bus conversion RVs definitely have some drawbacks. Here 5 reasons to you may want to avoid them.

1. Bus conversion RVs are very slow

School buses are built for taking kids to and from schools, and not driving on interstate highways. Skoolies have built-in speed control so they often top out at 65 mph on flat stretches of highway. In mountain terrain, skoolie can become road hazards.

2. Skoolies are expensive

Skoolies are built from buses whose best mechanical days are behind them. From their tires and brakes all the way up to their windshield wiper motors, buses are expensive to fix. Parts on an older bus can be difficult to find. This means however nice you make the interior, you will be faced with expensive repair bills, often when you least expect them.

When we first bought the bus in Bozeman, Mont., we had a massive breakdown on our way back home to Minnesota. We had to wait to be towed from the interstate to the nearest podunk repair shop in Gillette, Wyo. A motel stay and $2,000 later, we were up and running again and made it home

Kyle Nossaman, Gear Junkie

3. Skoolies can be uncomfortable

Poor ride quality and sluggish handling are typical for almost any bus conversion, due to their stiff suspension systems. Poor insulation and lack of furnaces and air conditioning make skoolies sweltering in the heat of summer and freezing in the cold of winter.

4. It is difficult to license and insure a skoolie

Insurance and licensing requirements can be difficult to navigate. Licensing requirements will require you to prove that your skoolie is no longer a commercial bus and is now a bonafide bus conversion RV.

Insurance companies view all nonprofessional bus conversion RVs with skepticism. A poll done by Trustedchoice.com found that 64.1% of all skoolie/bus conversion RV owners do the conversion work themselves, although they often don’t have electrical, plumbing, or other professional skills, so insurance companies are understandably concerned about the safety of these vehicles.

5. Many campgrounds don’t allow skoolies

No matter how nice your skoolie is, many campgrounds won’t allow them. Many RV parks want to keep up a certain image and have certain appearance and age-based admittance rules that require all RV guests to have manufactured RVs that are less than ten years old. You can learn more about the ten-year rule at RV parks in our previous article here.

Learn more before you decide on a skoolie

If you still want the extra space that a skoolie offers, do a good amount of research first on forums like Skoolie.net and with this useful book.

Author Lynne Fedorick Avatar

Lynne Fedorick

Lynne lives, travels and works full time in the R-Pod 180 with 3 pointers and 1 small but vital corgi mix named Alice. Lynne began full time RVing as an experiment in 2019, but she quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full time RV living. Lynne is a professional dog trainer, offering mobile and online dog training services through her website at www.mydoggeek.com. You can read about her travel adventures on her blog at: https://rpodadventure.wordpress.com/

11 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Avoid Skoolies & Bus Conversions

  1. I drive a school bus and my route is over 100 miles each day. I cruise at 75 on the Interstate and as of 2021 ALL school bus in New Mexico will have air conditioner. Have you ever see a commercial motor coach turned over. Pure junk .

  2. Curious, have you ever lived in a home you yourself built? When you build it you know how it supposed to sound, move, bounce, act., etc. We currently live in an 98 m1078 lmtv that we built and converted. Much more difficult to get insurance for and even that only took a few days. Yes many people have no clue what they are doing but they are trying and that’s step one. I’d like the author to ask some questions of those who live in these converted vehicles and how we are succeeding in life so much better than we used to in our standard homes. I have personally built out two buses and we are considering a third now.

  3. I did a conversion because the used RVs available were simply ridiculously expensive.

    Because I did a conversion I ended up with a better job, driving school busses.

    My conversion is easy to fix if anything goes wrong. I am in the midst of redoing the braking system myself (great learning experience) after a brakeline burst.

    Yes, vehicle repairs can be costly but this is a medium duty truck chassis, not a Ford Fiesta. Having said that, there’s a lot you can do yourself.

    Field Trip busses are faster than ordinary schoolbusses as they’re designed for interstate use. The vast majority of day to day school busses use roads with a maximum speed limit of 45mph. Only on interstates can they do 55mph. 55mph will get you there safely and economically – it’s not a race!

    As for insurance – the title must match what you’re insuring it for. I insure mine as a school bus because that’s what it says on the maker’s plate and on the title. I carry nothing of any great value inside. I have not done a glamping conversion as I’m not a glamper. Insurance is dead easy until you decide to fiddle and try falsely to claim it’s an RV. It was a school bus, is a school bus and always will be a school bus no matter what is inside.

    Some school busses do have AC and heat while driving. Some do not. As for being stationary there are many ways to include heat and AC into a conversion – if you want to bother. Again, I did not bother. If it’s hot then I’ll park up a mountain where it’s cooler.

    I see no evidence of school busses being road hazards in the mountains. That’s looks just to have been thrown out as an “I don’t like school bus conversions” comment.

    As for campgrounds – I’ve never had an issue of being turned away. On the other hand. my skoolie is painted very plainly, clean with new lights and is well maintained. There is no exotic paint and there are no exotic external additions. Not even solar panels on the roof.

  4. “Most women are not mechanics or even mechanically inclined”? That’s….. an interesting opinion. Where on earth did you get that idea? Have you known a lot of women in your life? There are a lot of women in the world.

    ….. You’re from a much, much older generation, aren’t you.

  5. This list is silly. I personally have experience in this, so I’d like to correct some things here…

    First and foremost, Skoolies, RV’s, and any other large vehicles such as box trucks or semi trucks aren’t made for speeding. No one driving a Recreational Vehicle is under the impression that they will be flying down the freeway at mach speed. I’m pretty sure commercial built motorhomes don’t do 90 either. So, that’s a pretty obvious given. The reduced speed capacity doesn’t automatically translate into a road hazard. lt’s the same as any other vehicle… if you take care of it and have it serviced properly and know the vehicle and it’s mechanics and limitations, you can dramatically reduce the risk of break downs and problems etc.

    Second, Skoolies are only as expensive as the owner wants to make it. Buying a retired bus is ridiculously cheap. I bought mine for $2500. With everything we’ve built and installed, we’ve spent around $15,000 total. You can’t buy an RV with that kind of money. And RV’s are often built like crap and don’t work properly, have horrible warranty policies, are a pain to repair. (My parents have a brand new Travel Trailer and not once has everything in it worked at the same time, the dealer never has the parts they need to have replaced, and it’s expensive as heck to fix anything.) When you build out a Skoolie Conversion yourself, you have the luxury of knowing the ins and outs of the entire structure down to the wiring and insulation. You have control over what type and quality of materials that are used, and subsequently get to design the layout however you want. You don’t have those kinds of options with traditional RV’s. As far as replacement parts, they are absolutely easy to find. Any place that sells retired school buses generally has a warehouse of parts that they strip from immobile models. Online sellers and scrap yards are great and cheap resources as well. Tires are pricey, but everything else is relatively reasonable and what you would expect. There is wear and tear the same way that there is in a regular home. Water heaters, roofs…they don’t last forever, right? The building elements and appliances of a skoolie build age out just the same as they would in your house.

    No heat or A/C? Many buses do come equipped with at least heat, however, a lot of people who build skoolie conversions install their own and can have just as sophisticated systems as a normal house would. And due to the small space, it’s relatively easy to cool or heat quickly. The ride quality isn’t uncomfortable at all, especially if your skoolie is furnished with furniture. The rides can be noisy, however, especially if you have a flat nosed bus with an engine in the front interior area. So again, it’s as comfortable as you make it.

    Proving your bus is an RV is really simple. The insurance company just asks you to have certain things in place and then send them photos. Done. The hard part is finding the two insurance companies in the country that insure Skoolie conversions. You are best off finding a local agent that can customize your policy. Most companies don’t have policies for “skoolies” but there are absolutely loopholes for getting this done. You just need the right agent who knows their stuff and is willing to help.

    I keep hearing that campgrounds don’t allow skoolies but I have never been turned away from anywhere. Concrete RV parks are not campgrounds, and they have their own set of discriminatory rules that don’t only apply to skoolies. I’d also go as far as to say that most people interested in Skoolies are generally not interested in staying at RV parks anyway… so the pretentious rules don’t really apply here.

    Overall, I’d guess that the author hasn’t actually had experience owning or traveling in a skoolie. I’m curious as to why the goal is to steer people away from them? Is it hard work? Absolutely. Is it for everyone? Of course not. But categorizing Skoolie travel as the wrong way to do it…is just plain weird. For me, working on a build has been really cool because not only have I learned so much about construction, but I have built an arsenal of skills that I didn’t have prior, and I have a level of confidence in myself that could never be acquired by letting someone else do the work for me. That alone is a reason I’m glad I did it. Even if we sold it tomorrow and bought a normal house, I would never regret what I’ve learned. So, I hope others reading this are not discouraged! Keep building skoolies!!! 🙂 <3

  6. You are so right—I just read the 2018 incident posted on Rip-Off Report about Skoolie Homes in Kingsport TN—they put the customer through a nightmare even after spending 50K…
    Skoolie Homes also has for sale listings of amateurs who started on a conversion and now claim for sale because “their plans have changed” is the usual excuse…

    1. Sale beccause their plans have changed means they’ve put enough work in that they think they can sell and make a profit.

  7. You’ve listed the CONS and they seem reasonable. However, can you list an equal amount of PROS…’5 Reasons to Choose a Skoolie or Bus Conversion’. It helps to have a well-rounded view and help me and others make a more informed decision as a future traveler.

    Thanks

    Benjamin Staley
    USMC/USAF Disabled Veteran

  8. To each, his or her own. Most women are not mechanics or even mechanically inclined. So, any man mechanically inclined won’t be converting a school bus to an RV without making sure it is of quality for safe operation. Newer school buses have air ride suspension, have airconditioning and acoustic ceiling. School buses are better constructed structurally, whereas motorhomes are made of fiberglass ( burn rapidly in case of a tire fire or engine fire ). I’ll stick with mostly metal school bus conversions to an RV.

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