Yes, I’m selling my house and the majority of my stuff and I’m going to live in a skoolie. What’s a skoolie? It’s an old school bus that’s been converted into an RV, or if you prefer, a tiny house on wheels.
Why am I doing this crazy awesome thing? Well, I’ll tell you.
First, I’ve been fascinated with tiny houses since I first heard about them. I’ve been following Instagram accounts and reading articles and fantasizing about them since the minute I learned that they exist! But I never seriously considered buying/building one for myself. I’d say, well yes, I could live in one, but I’d need a second one for my art supplies and a third one for all of my books!
Second, I love to travel. I love to go somewhere new for a month or two or three and not be a tourist, but really get a feel for what it was like to live there. The first time I did that was in college, when I spent six months studying art in Cortona, Italy. All I had with me was what I could bring on an airplane. I loved every minute of it and never wanted to leave. The next time I did something similar was when I was working for IBM and they sent me to Paris for over a month. I had a suitcase and a backpack and moved from hotel to hotel within the city.
I did it again (twice!) in Mazatlan, Mexico. The first time in 2006 (I think?) where I spent three months there in an apartment and the second time in 2018 when I spent two months in a gorgeous house (thanks Eric and Jenna!). Both times I brought two suitcases with me. One with clothes and one with art supplies and a few books. I didn’t miss anything from home.
But this post isn’t about those trips. I’m trying to explain why I’ve decided to completely change my life in this crazy way!
So I’ve also taken lots of trips that are from three to six weeks and did some petsitting in New York and California, or worked and played with family and friends. One of the reasons I moved from Atlanta to Paducah, Kentucky and left my high paying corporate job with IBM was – well, obviously so I had more time to make art, that’s the main reason – but also so I could afford the time and cost of traveling more. I usually go somewhere where I have friends I can stay with, but it’s still expensive! In addition to the travel expenses, I’ve had to pay a mortgage and utilities for a house I wasn’t in, a petsitter to take care of my dogs and cat, etc. That gets expensive!
Both related and unrelated, my parents have owned an RV for almost 25 years and lived in it full time for 8 years. So while I was never tempted to buy an RV, living that way never seemed impossible either.
The first time I saw an empty school bus was back in around 2012 and I was incredibly drawn to it. I pictured driving it around, having a traveling art studio, not really living in it, but doing something with it!
Then I saw Carrie Schmitt and her bus, Rosie the Art Bus, a short bus that she uses as a mobile painting and workshop studio and covered with her painted flowers! And the wheels started turning for me…
I can’t remember the first time I actually saw a skoolie online, but I became obsessed with them as soon as I did! I’ve been following all the Instagrams, watching all the YouTube videos… but for a long time I still thought there was no way I could do it. I had too many animals, too much stuff, loved my house (although I didn’t love the mortgage), love my little city…
But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, why couldn’t I? I’m single, have nobody depending on me (except the aforementioned pets), I can – and do – work from anywhere with an internet connection… so I started seriously considering it. I’m not afraid of taking risks, I love travel and new experiences and change. So I started to think about how I could make it work.
At the time (about a year ago maybe), I had two dogs and a cat. Kodi, my 13 year old dog, was seriously declining – so I thought I would wait him out maybe a year and take that time to plan and start slowly going through my enormous bunch of books and art supplies and just general stuff. I thought it would take that long to make my house presentable enough to sell! I started telling people about my idea and the responses ranged from, “Are you insane?” to “I’ve always wanted to do that!” or “You have WAY too much crap for that!”
Last August, when I told my friend and neighbor what I was planning to do, she immediately told me not to tell anyone else about my plan, because her daughter would want to buy my house! And the next day, I had a contract on my house! And a panic attack! Okay, not really, but it suddenly became real and I had just over two months to pack, sell, or donate everything I owned and move out – and I had a six week trip right in the middle of that.
The world’s best sister and I got busy going through everything I own and I managed to get out of the house for my now renter/future buyer to move in by early November. I sold almost all my furniture, half my books and art supplies and crap, gave away a ton of stuff and donated others. I’m currently living in the cute little apartment above my sister’s garage that’s usually on AirBnb, with what I have left packed up in her garage.
Stay tuned for the next part of this story in which I will answer: Why a school bus and not an RV? And I’ll also talk about how I went about finding and buying my bus.