10 Dec Skoolie Life Spotlight: Bertie and the Bus
We love sharing stories about our Skoolie Life and our family, and we love hearing stories about other families who have embraced the Skoolie lifestyle! After meeting Julie and Ryan at the Tiny House Jamboree, I reached out to them and asked them to share some of their story with us. We hope you enjoy learning about their Skoolie Life as much as we did.
Meet Julie and Ryan
Once upon a time, Julie was scrolling through Tinder when Ryan’s picture caught her eye. Not only was he cute, but he had the added bonus of living on a bus! Intrigued, she swiped right. Neither of them had been lucky with online dating in the past, but when they met, they had an instant connection. Eventually, they moved in together.
After living together in an apartment and seeing the rent go up for a few years, Julie and Ryan decided to make the switch to living in a skoolie so that they could pay off their debt, save money and not be tied down by a lease. Their families were supportive, but just a tab bit concerned about how they would fare living together in such a tight space.
From bachelor-pad Skoolie to a Skoolie built for a couple
Luckily, Ryan already had the bus, a 1996 Thomas built body on an International frame. Ryan and his dad had converted it years before so that Ryan could live in it as a bachelor. But when Julie decided to join him, they realized they needed a different layout and so they gutted the bus and started over with a new layout.
Wanting to keep the plumbing, gas piping, and tanks intact, they rose to the challenge of designing a new layout that would work with what was already installed. They worked from March to August 2018, to make the bus into a home for a small family (Julie and Ryan have a sweet pup named Bertie and a feisty kitty named Binx) instead of a bachelor.
Julie recommends that if you convert a Skoolie, you do some deep thinking about its purpose before starting the process.
She told us, “Figure out exactly what you want out of it before you start anything! By this I mean, what do you intend to use it for? Are you planning on traveling full time, more stationary, weekend trips, etc? Basically, try and work out all scenarios before you start your design and build, it will make your life so much easier!”
Another challenge that came up when they were remodeling their Skoolie was a wheel well right in the middle of where Julie wanted to put the bathroom. They couldn’t figure out what to do until one day, Julie told Ryan, ““Can’t we just cut this dang wheel hump off!!”, to which Ryan said, “Actually, yes, I believe so!” They realized that even if they cut the wheel well off, they would still have 11 to 12 inches of clearance.
Ryan took the curved piece that they cut off, flattened it out and used it to cover the hole, then they sealed it all up and covered it up with the subfloor. By doing this, it gave them much more room in the bathroom, without an awkward step right in the middle!
Learning moment: As long as you know it’s safe, don’t be afraid to change parts of your bus to mold it to your needs!
Loving the Skoolie Life
Now, Julie and Ryan love their Skoolie and can’t imagine ever going back to living in an apartment. They love all of the money they are saving, and the freedom to go anywhere they want. For now, they’re staying put, though. Julie is currently a full-time student, pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. After she graduates, she has a full-time job offer working at a local utility company with their engineering design team. Ryan is a service and applications engineer for a company that distributes programmable manufacturing equipment and components. It’s tough to travel when their school and work require them to stay in one place.
Julie told us, “We haven’t lived in the bus full time for very long, only a few months, but I think the way it has already changed our lives so much is something that is going to stay with us forever. Living the Skoolie/tiny life has made us much more intentional and has really simplified our life. Even if we don’t live this way forever, I think the mindset will carry over.”
Want to say hi to Julie, Ryan, Bertie, and Binx?
Head on over to Instagram and follow them at @bertie_and_the_bus!
Do you have a Skoolie life story you want to be featured on Skoolie Homes Blog?
Email us at [email protected] and we’ll send you our questionnaire!