I've been toying with the idea of living in a bus for a number of years, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that I started to get serious about it. I’m not sure exactly when I made the decision that this was something I would definitely do but a lot of the thinking happened while enduring a nine-hour bus journey in northern Zimbabwe. I was squeezed into the far rear corner of the heavily overloaded vehicle and with no chance of sleeping and with no other entertainment to hand, to keep myself occupied I set myself the mental challenge of working out how I could in theory turn the bus into a house. Once I realised it was not only possible but also could be an incredibly practical space for a home, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.
It then just took an evening at the pub and a quick browse on eBay and I'd gone and bought myself a bus.
From the get-go, there were several things I knew I'd have to take into consideration when designing my home, to make it really work for me. Even before I decided to live in a bus, I knew that whatever home I built myself would have to be movable. I'm not very good at staying in one place for long periods of time, and although I want a base, I want to be able to set up home wherever I choose and not be constrained by solid foundations on a piece of land that I may decide in a year or two isn't where I want to spend my time.
It would also have to highly adaptable. I have no idea where I'm going to be and what my life will be looking like in a few years' time, let alone ten. As long as I don't remain in the trap of a steady job for too much longer, things are likely to be very different indeed in the not too distant future. I might be running my own business and the bus might be my office. I might have a long-term partner and three kids, and the bus would be their home too. I just don't know. It would be a shame to build myself a home that becomes obsolete and unusable in a few years time just because I didn't anticipate my potential future needs.
I also decided pretty early on that I wanted to all of the construction work myself (or with friends). The idea of outsourcing this project just doesn't make any sense (nor is it economically viable). This space needs to be unique, interesting, and identifiably hand-crafted by me. It needs to allow me to do the things I want to do, and should I want to change things about it down the road, I need to know it inside out. It will, without a doubt, become a significant part of my life story and therefore a part of me, so I need to get to know her deeply.
There were a few more practical goals to bear in mind before I put pen to paper:
- Must have a lot of storage. Although I don't have many possessions, my adventure gear needs a place to call home when not being used.
- Needs to sleep 2 people really comfortably, but up to 10 ideally. Bus parties are an inevitability.
- Ability to live on and off the grid. This is a must, but is a long-term goal and may not get accomplished this year (solar panels are expensive!).
- Rentable - must have all the conveniences a paying customer might expect (without compromising on homeliness). While I'm away travelling, it would be great to earn some extra income on AirBnb, etc.
- Easy to maintain.
Having done a tonne of research on what others had already done with bus conversions, I started to compile files and files of inspiration and ideas, and then put together a Sketchup drawing of what I wanted it to look like at the end. This has changed a lot in the time since my first drawing but this is what I'm currently working towards (bus pretty much done, landscaping work in progress):