A couple who were struggling to make ends meet have transformed an old school bus into their dream home – and now save over £8,000 per year on bills.
Alyssa Lydick and her partner, Johnathon Peck, recall experiencing a strain on their finances after moving from their hometown of Oregon, US, in early 2020 to study at college.
In a bid to keep themselves afloat, the pair turned to their savings, but this quickly dwindled after Johnathon lost his job in quality assurance at a local farm.
Fearing they could lose everything, the 22 and 25-year-old researched into moving from their current apartment into a tiny home, before coming across a secondhand bus online.
Now, they’re saving over £8,314 ($10,000 USD) a year on bills after making the move and have transformed their humble abode using simple DIY skills while on a budget.
“Bus life has been nothing short of magical – it’s everything we ever dreamed it be and more,” Alyssa told NeedToKnow.online.
“This adventure has challenged us and forced us out of our comfort zone in many ways we never saw coming.
“Resilience and confidence in my independence are two things that I’ve personally gained and for Johnathon, his largest lesson has been patience and learning to let go.
“I’d always had the idea that living in a school bus was something that sounded fun, and now, being it was the one thing we could afford, it was bus or bust.
“Upon looking into [this way] of living more, we realised it was the perfect choice for us – cheaper, completely customisable and way safer than any other mobile living situation.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to keep living the ‘traditional’ way, as it just didn’t work for us.”
In December 2020, they purchased the 2000 BlueBird bus from a secondhand seller in Southern California for £9,900 ($12,000 USD) and started working on the revamp in January 2021.
Alongside their full-time jobs as seasonal mushroom pickers and their own respective careers as a part-time handyman and business owner, the project is now almost complete.
As they only had a tight budget, the couple had to learn all the necessary skills from scratch, YouTube and through trial and error to teach themselves.
Starting with ripping out the interior, before moving on to preparing for building work, they then removed any rust and covered some of the windows.
Next, they added new insulation, as well as a new floor, and once the basics were complete, they moved in.
Alyssa said: “The lease on our apartment was finished, so we moved into the bus with the bare necessities.
“We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are now and have ensured to include everything we needed to make the space feel like home.
“Now, we’ve got a pantry, pull-out coach, solar heating, curtains, and a mini library.
“Neither Johnathon nor myself, have any prior experience in building or construction – and we didn’t even know to drive a bus.
“While we knew the basics, we made sure to be completely educated before starting out, but nothing could’ve prepared us for what was to come.
“But the one thing we love the most is having the ability to have a home that changes every day.”
So far, they’ve spent an estimated £2,880 ($3,465 USD) on renovations, where they’ve relied on secondhand wood, as well as other pre-loved items to upcycle and reuse.
Now, they’re looking forward to taking the bus on the road and have already explored Southern California and Northern Washington.
She added: “We are lucky enough to have adventured [already] and when we hit the road in May, we’ll be heading for drier climates.
“Our first top is Arizona, but we’ll go with the flow and slowly make our way there, exploring as we go with no time limits or particular destination in mind.
“If we had to pick one thing we miss about living in a home, it would have to be running water on demand.
“Sometimes, we find ourselves saying it would be really nice to take a hot bath, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“We still pinch ourselves every day at the idea that we are living the life we imagined for ourselves years ago.
“I don’t foresee an end of bus life in sight for us, it’s a dream come true.”
Metal windows: $500
Kitchen (not finished): $75
Living area: $150
Bathroom (not finished): $40
Misc (incl wood, decorative finishes, etc): $400