All of your skoolie FAQs, all in one place. We’ll update this page as we write more guides.
What is a skoolie?
A skoolie is the term used to describe a school bus that has been converted into a living space, much like an RV.
Skoolies, like RVs, have bathrooms, kitchens, sleeping space, and a number of other amenities including electricity and indoor plumbing. Similar to van conversions, they are often DIY projects, but allow more living space than vans.
What license is needed to drive a skoolie?
If you register your skoolie for personal, rather than commercial use, you do not need a CDL. This is similar to the registration for Class C motorhomes.
You may need a special air brake certification or weight license depending on your state. Additionally, the bus may be registered as a commercial vehicle when you buy it. If so, you will need a CDL-licensed driver to transport it until it is re-registered as a personal vehicle. For more information on converting a bus title, check out this blog post.
Are skoolies difficult to drive?
Yes and no. I personally was very nervous about driving the bus for the first time (whereas my partner had plenty of experience with hauling large trailers).
After a few (low-stakes) trial runs, you get the feel for it pretty quickly, in my experience. The biggest part here is the turning radius. Going forward is obviously pretty easy, turns are tricky at the beginning, but once you’ve got that, you’re all set.
As for backing up? Yes, this part is difficult. There is a big of a cheater method though: getting a rear backup camera that allows you to see what you’re doing. If you need extra help, chances are you’re traveling with a partner, friends, or other family, so they can get out and spot you.
If you’re really nervous about the idea, you can attend a “tiny house” event or other skoolie meetup, and see if anyone will let you go for a test drive. My recommendation is that you don’t let the learn-to-drive learning curve dissuade you.
Where can I park a skoolie?
You can park your skoolie in most big box retailer parking lots (like Walmart), rest stops and truck stops, RV parks and campgrounds, public lands, and in state and national forests. For a more in-depth answer, check out this post on where to park overnight.
While not on the road, you might need to find special parking for your skoolie, depending on your local ordinances. Call your local storage places, as they usually offer cheap parking for RVs.
How much does a DIY skoolie renovation cost?
Skoolie project cost can vary greatly, but look to spend between $12-15k for a low cost build and $20-25k for a fancier build. The base cost of the school bus is usually around $5000-$10m000.
You will need to pay for any school bus repairs before you start renovating. Then, your renovation costs will vary depending on how much you spend on tools and materials. This includes paint, interior walls, batteries and inverter, water tanks, toilet, beds and bed frames, kitchen appliances, decoration, and miscellaneous wiring and trim.
If you want more information on what this looks like, there are a number of Youtube channels where people document their bus builds. You can also go to skoolie meetups (even as a non-bus owner!) and talk to people firsthand.
Where can I buy a school bus for skoolie?
You can buy a used school bus through various classified sites such as Buses For Sale, government actions such as GovDeals.com, marketplaces like Ebay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or skoolie-centric forums like Skoolie.Net.
How do I insure a skoolie?
We’ve got a very in-depth guide on skoolie insurance here, but the tl;dr is that there is a clear process, and there’s even insurance agents who specialize in skoolies. You’ll need to renovate your skoolie, document it with photos and receipts, re-title it as a motorhome, and then shop around for options.
How long does it take to build a skoolie?
It depends on the complexity of the build and the amount of time you have to dedicate to it. Skoolie conversions can take 2-3 months working full time on it, or 6-24 months working part time, such as weekends-only.
But, you might be able to take short trips before your bus conversion project is fully complete.
Where can I sell my skoolie online?
While buses are mobile and can drive to the location of their new owner, keep in mind that not all interested parties may buy the vehicle after seeing it, so finding local buyers might be your first choice.
Why build a skoolie instead of an RV?
In theory, skoolies and RVs have similar amenities. Building a skoolie allows people to have an interesting DIY project to share with their partner or family. It also allows them to customize their living space, and can be more affordable than buying a new RV.
Why do people do skoolie roof raises?
Some buses are built with sufficient ceiling height, while other school buses were made for young kids and have a ceiling height of roughly 6 feet. Doing a skoolie roof raise allows for more head room and a more spacious living area.
What kind of toilet should I have for my skoolie?
This is a pretty in-depth question based on your budget, environmental preferences, the number of people living on your bus, and whether you want to add in additional plumbing. Check out this article for an in-depth look.
What did we miss?
If you have a question we didn’t answer, let us know and we’ll update our skoolie FAQ guide!