5 Things We’ve Learned So Far About Living in a Bus

Slowly, slowly we are getting things set up to make ourselves a bit more comfortable around here, but these first few days have included QUITE a learning curve in some aspects. Here are some of the things we’ve had to  figure out right off the bat.

1. Bus living is NOT cost effective in the short term. 

We have been throwing money at all sorts of problems that have cropped up as well as long-term solutions to things (like being off the grid) that we will eventually be able to use for our future home.

From water leaks to solar panels, we are not reaping any immediate benefits of  being rent-free as far as our checking account is concerned. Hopefully, though, all the big ticket items are taken care of now so we can start seeing some real savings.

Another money-suck? Eating out! With no fridge or stove (YET) we have been eating a lot of take-out. I would love to hear some ideas for cookless meals besides sandwiches. We are about sandwiched out.

2. Bus living is NOT for the OCD among us. 

We plan on building a makeshift covered patio at some point, but for now, even with a no-shoes-in-the-bus rule there is an acre and a half’s worth of dirt being tracked in daily. This was one room after one day AFTER I had already swept with a broom:


Let me just say that I am SO thankful that we took the carpet out. Just… yes.

3. Bus living requires some creative solutions. 

Especially because we are living in a double-decker. Getting up and down the ladder becomes a chore (and a workout) in and of itself. I was very grateful when Noah installed this the other day:


It’s a rope on a pulley with a giant hook on the end! I’ve since attached a (bright purple) bucket and now we can get clothes and books and toys up and down with ease. I’m still trying to figure out if there’s a safe way to use it to carry Finn, because THAT would be sweet.

4. Bus dwellers really, really need to be organized. 

I thought I knew this one already, but I am now experiencing it first hand and it’s taken on a whole new meaning. Because the space we are in is so small, even the slightest thing out of place makes everything look messy. Not to mention that you really don’t want to go up and down a ladder several times looking for various articles of your wardrobe.


This is eventually going to become some sort of (very organized) laundry system. It has yet to be perfected, but I’ll keep you posted.

5. Being outside is good for the soul. 

When they’re not in their room playing, the kids have been outside. With no TV or computer or anything else at all to distract them, they simply play all. day. long. (This accounts for most of the dirt being tracked in to the house).

Lily can point out Orion now, they’ve gotten to hold a gopher snake, and they “hike” up the sides of the graded pad that we eventually plan to build on. Best of all, they fall right to sleep at night out of sheer exhaustion. It’s a beautiful thing.


We are even eating outside. This is our current fridge and dining room.

I’m sure we have many more lessons up ahead of us on this journey, and I hope we can learn them gracefully (not while growling in frustration while looking for a lost set of keys. Ahem.)

Up next, I’ll be sharing a little more about what our daily life looks like so far – the good, the bad and the ugly – and you all have to promise not to judge us if not every picture is Pinterest-worthy, okay? I’m going to hold you to it, friends.

How would you picture bus-dwelling to be for your family? Anything like this? 

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34 thoughts on “5 Things We’ve Learned So Far About Living in a Bus

  1. It looks like fun, actually! Extended camping. I’m sure my standards would go down really quickly living on a bus, but that’s not a bad thing. Those exhausted kids dropping to sleep sounds pretty heavenly to me! 🙂

    1. I forgot to mention that we also have limited power resources available for now until we get our solar panels up and going. I do have an electric grill and a crockpot for later though!

  2. Many good things to consider..

    1. It’s super fast to clean the entire thing, right?
    2. The bonding. I mean.. I couldn’t imagine even trying to spend one night with my fiancé without a single gadget. Actually sounds very nice. I think I’m going to try it!
    3. Exercise! For Free! Haha.. 🙂

    Do you have a crock pot? That might be worth investing in…
    Otherwise.. I was going to say Sushi.. but then the rice threw me off.

    1. 1. Yes and no. The upstairs is a mother to clean because I have to either stoop or be on my hands and knees. The downstairs will be a lot easier once I have a place for everything.
      2. Again, yes and no. We have had a LOT to do once noah gets home from work and the kids are asleep, so not a lot of leisure time yet… but hopefully soon! And we both do still have our phones, so not totally device-free.
      3. Just yes to that one 🙂 Lots of it!

  3. Can you make a fire and do some cooking on that? (hot dogs, sausages..etc.) that was my only idea..so if you can’t I’m stumped. Good luck! You’ll be in my prayers 🙂

    1. You know, I had thought about that, I just kind of felt a little weird about it because of the neighbors. I mean, we’re not ACTUALLY camping. I guess I might just have to get over that, huh? Thanks for the suggestion and the prayers, Nicole!

      1. Almost everyone I know has a fire pit in the yard. I don’t see how having a fire would be any different!

      2. AND you could invite the neighbors over for s’mores!

        I was going to suggest pre-cooked chicken for salads or wraps. It’s not super cheap, but it is better than eating out every meal. If you end up going the campfire route, just about everything can be cooked in a foil packet!

      3. We do that in our backyard in the summer all the time! And we have close neighbors too. Don’t worry about it 🙂 Good luck! (My husband also suggested getting a cheap charcoal or propane grill? Maybe off craigslist or something?)

  4. I cannot think of one tough time in my life that wasn’t a Great Learning Experience….. I wouldn’t give up any of them, they are what makes us appreciate the good times so much more.

    This kind of stuff is what Great Memories are made of, this is a real down to earth experience.

    Just imagine traveling here in a wagon with some other hopeful settlers to homestead some unforseen land with nothing but a horse, a wagon, a gun and the clothes on your back without a clue as to what you will find or do once you arrive.

    Time for dinner? Getting Thirsty?……….. What in the world did they do?

    This will turn into a great thing and you will learn a lot about being more independent.

    When you look back, these days will become the Good Ol Days. It’s tough to be without , but much better to learn how to be without and make it happen than have it all always there for you without any experience of how to do it yourself.

    Things will get much better…….. this was a big move, a big change in life and what courage you have to do it……. it will be a story of trial error and success.

    I’m proud of you for being willing to be up to the challenge…… you were not forced to do this, you did not have to do this yet you chose to do this…… that is something….. you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

    It’s going to be fun watching the appreciation of new conveniences……. it will be fun to watch the innovations that you come up with……. this may be harder at first but this is truly living and to a large extent the way that I think that we were designed to live….. outside more, experiencing the stars, hearing the birds……. seeing life as it is all around you without being cooped up all of the time…… You are lucky!


  5. Sarah,
    What an adventure you are on! We have land we camp on that does not have electricity or running water. We have a small propane grill we cook on. They are fairly inexpensive, or perhaps a full size one that you would then continue to use once the house is built. Also, what about a propane camp stove? You could cook anything on that and again not to expensive. These things come in handy. We were very thankful for our camp stove when our power was out for 3 1/2 days after a bad storm last summer. Blessing to you and your family!

  6. A camp stove runs off of propane and has 2 burners like a stove. I looked them up on Walmart.com and they start out around $35. And I meant a bbq grill. We have a small table top model that was around $30 but if you like to bbq I would suggest getting a regular size one to have for your home when it is completed.

  7. My friend is experimenting with rocket stoves. They use just a handful of sticks to cook a meal. She also does solar cooking. Now that winter is over, the sun’s angle is better for solar.

    Check out her blog: http://hemetsunshine.wordpress.com. She goes overboard in her research to get the easiest and cheapest options. Today I saw her rocket oven made from native clay. That’s one thing San Diego county has much of, clay!

    Instead of thinking of what you can’t do, think of what you can do. There are quite a few foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking. Cheeses, yogurts, canned meats, fruits and vegetables. Wraps and burritos can help you get out of the sandwich rut with a little variety. In summer, we enjoy cold burritos with beans straight from the can, with some cheese and salsa, sometimes olives or lettuce. Many things we eat hot or warm, can be eaten cold. I did that a lot while backpacking.

    I hope of this will help!

    We homeschool too! Our oldest are now 32 and homeschooling their children. We still have four in school at home.

    Happy Adventure!

  8. Getting a gas grill was so helpful for us…everything tastes better on a grill and we had much more interesting meals. And where we live, it’s easy to find used ones. Also, we bring home a rotisserie chicken for dinner on a regular basis ($4.88 at Sam’s Club) and anything we don’t eat the first day gets turned into all sorts of things.

    Love hearing about your adventure!!

    1. Yeah, a grill is sounding like the best option right now. And I love roast chicken! I make enchiladas, stir fry, all that good stuff, and then broth with the carcass! Such a money saver!

  9. I was going to say a solar oven, but also the propane burner, grill, and rocket stove are all great options, too. You can make stir fry on the propane burner. It’s cheaper than the grill with a side burner. You could, as mentioned above, get a stand-alone side burner and then a less expensive propane grill. Then you can make soups, stir fry, beans and rice, etc. (Beans would also be great in the solar oven).

  10. I am going to have to return and learn more about what you are doing! I clicked over from Emily’s site, and am amazed and curious. I have three boys and love the idea of doing something similar just for a month.

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