If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll probably aren’t too surprised to hear that Tim and I bought a converted skoolie. We’ve been talking about downsizing, why we choose to live tiny, and how we started our minimalist journey for a few years now so you might have seen this one coming – just not in a pretty yellow school bus-shaped package. So, let’s get to the why, what, when, and how of our new skoolie adventure. But first, a little back story. Let us set the stage if you will for how the LUCKY bus – this beautiful, magical school bus came into our lives when we least expected it.
Read More About Our Minimalist Lifestyle:
- Owning Books as a Minimalist
- Tiny House Movement: What Is The Fuss All About?
- Adding Color Decorating as a Minimalist
We were about to buy a house
When I say that Tim and I were not looking for a bus at all and that this whole thing came to be in a magical serendipitous way, I mean it! This bus came into our lives truly by happenstance and fate. You see, Tim and I were actually in the process of buying a house. We had been working with our amazing mortgage broker and my childhood friend, Josh, and going through the motions of getting everything ready to start seeing houses and making offers. We had just paid off all of our debt (except student loans!) and we were waiting to let our credit scores and debt to income ratio balance out. And because Tim and I are currently renting our tiny studio in Chicago, we really weren’t in a hurry – especially because we know the housing market is whack right now. So, we just decided to take it slow and see what popped up on the market while we waited to have our approval. We were spending our nights looking at Zillow and new property listings, daydreaming of what color we would paint the front door.
During that 30 day downtime, we got to experience our newly found economic freedom. And suddenly, the commitment and responsibility that is a standard 30-year mortgage and owning a home seemed like a step backward. Having just weathered the Covid-19 pandemic with both of us being incredibly lucky to not have lost our jobs, the idea of a mortgage truthfully freak us out when we thought “what about the worst-case scenario?” We were still ready to take the plunge though! We just wanted to be smart about what we were buying. We set a downpayment goal of over 30%, looked at old homes we could buy at a more affordable price, and we were planning to fix her up over the next 5-10 years one-weekend project at a time. So when I say that a bus was not in the plans, I mean it.
Divine (intervention) from the road
I follow quite a few #vanlife and skoolie conversion accounts on IG and one of the ones I love to follow is Sydney from Divine On The Road. One day, June 13th to be exact, Sydney shared to her stories a post of a bus that was for sale with a comment along the lines of “someone please buy this bus so I don’t have to!” so obviously I checked it out because I didn’t even know the LUCKY bus existed! And it looked too perfect to not have on my radar – even it if was just to live vicariously through someone else’s endless adventures on the road.
Now, I don’t want to brag or anything but I consider myself to have a good eye for conversions. After all, I’ve spent the past 7 years with Tim watching countless videos of self conversions, bus tours, tiny house building shows, and everything in between. And as I scrolled through the pictures Alyssa posted of her newly for sale bus, I couldn’t find one. single. thing. I would change about it. So, I emailed Alyssa telling her a little bit about Tim, Rocky, Kona and I like she had asked those interested in buying the bus to do:
We are a family of 4 – Steph and Tim are the humans, Rocket Man and Kona Pop are the doggos – in Chicago. And we’re swooning over Lucky, so we’re going to tell you a bit about us and hope you swoon too!
Hiiii I’m Steph (currently writing the email) and I work in digital marketing. My husband Tim and I have been married 7 years and in that time we have slowly downsized from a 5 bedroom 2200 sq foot house to a micro-studio of about 450 sq feet. After 3 years of living in Chicago in what others could call a shoebox, we’re ready for more freedom in life. We love to travel, take road trips, and spend as much time outdoors as we can. We recently sold our house and are ready for a tiny house Skokie adventure!
We’ve always loved road trips, hole in the wall BBQ joints, antique malls in small towns, and enjoying our public lands. We want an off-grid cutie like Lucky that we can enjoy on extended trips for the next few years over the weekends. We’re ready to cross of every national park off our list and chase murals with Lucky hopefully by our side and sending you postcards. We’d love our inaugural drive with Lucky to be a homecoming – we’d fly out and drive back to Chicago!
Steph, Tim, Rocky 🐶 and Kona 🦊
And I went to bed. The next morning, as I was getting ready to start the work week I panicked and was terrified that my email might have been flagged as spam or buried under the hundreds of other emails I imagined Alyssa got that night. So, I messaged her on IG and told her I had sent her an email and that if it hadn’t made it into her inbox, I could resend it. Monday we emailed back and forth as we each asked questions and set a facetime date for later that night to chat a little more and get to know each other.
The moment we got on the phone it was like talking to a long-lost friend – we talked about our goals, what we did, how much we loved the bus and really just got to know each other. Alyssa mentioned that there was someone planning to come see LUCKY that week but she didn’t want to rush us into a decision. She told us to think it over. What I don’t think she realized is that we knew that very moment we wanted to buy her. But we knew this was a big decision that had come about pretty quickly so we talked about it and in true Tim and Steph fashion decided that if Alyssa was free, we would drive to Boston to see the bus in person. And that is exactly what we did!
Thursday after work – and by that I mean after I drove back from Detroit for a video shoot with a client – we got in the car and embarked on a road trip that quite literally took us to see LUCKY and turned right back around. As we pulled into the driveway, my heart stopped – she was perfect. And suddenly, a dream we had had for almost 7 years finally seemed attainable. It finally seemed real, it wasn’t a pipe dream that we would do someday, maybe.
As we spent the next 2 weeks chatting with Alyssa about all things LUCKY, we realized that we had far more connections to each other than we ever could have imagined. I know it sounds ridiculous to some but this bus was meant to be ours. And in a sea of interested people, we are incredibly humbled, excited, and touched that we get to continue the legacy Alyssa, Dan and Rio started with LUCKY.
What is next for the LUCKY bus?
As you know, we love road trips and we try to take the mutts with us whenever possible. After the pandemic, we really missed being outdoors. I found myself really missing state parks, camping, hiking, and all the things we had left behind in Tennessee when we moved to Chicago. And while we absolutely love living in the Windy City, sometimes you just need to get away from the concrete jungle and get back to nature. With my job no longer being remote since we went back to the office, our plans for LUCKY are of the weekend kind. You can catch her in state parks near Chicago and taking road trips to see family for the holidays. And as far as what changes we are making, well that is an easy one to answer – nothing! We think LUCKY is perfect just the way she is so she’s staying pretty much the same. Why mess with perfection, right?