I’m getting ready to make a purchase decision and I have two options (sorta) locally. Not sure I feel comfortable shopping nationally, since I need to examine a vehicle before buying and would need a mechanic I trust. So, the two local options are small and large city transit busses or an ambulance from @ 2000. I see the ambulance as a better choice since it will need less work inside, storage-wise, and it has only 48,000 miles, but it may not be available for two years due to a backlog on new ambulances. The transit busses will be available soon and will likely be less expensive, but they have 100,000+ miles and will need completely revamped. To put things in context, I’m a 60yo woman and will likely be traveling alone much of the time, while my husband is still working full-time-plus-some. I know it’s different for everyone, but what general advice can you offer?
Greetings & Welcome!
I would skip ambulances immediately, I’ve seen too many people where they turned into money pits, running problems, wiring problems, and a lot more.
City transit buses can go either way. Some are specifically geared for only in city speeds, while others are not. Maintenace can go either way too, from properly maintained to poorly maintained, and you really can’t trust any maintenance records they provide. I’ve seen 100 buses all with really good identical maintenance records, but at least half of them had been very poorly maintained when doing an in person physical inspection.
Shuttle buses might be a better choice.
Why not just start with an older used motorhome? Sometimes they can be found pretty cheap, with low miles, well maintained, and still in excellent condition. DIY conversions frequently end poorly, and paying someone else to convert one is likely to cost more than buying a much safer & better quality factory motorhome.
I’ve seen more than my fair share of really poor quality “professional” conversions. I just saw a Youtube where somebody had paid $40k+ to convert a small bus, and it looked like it was done by a 10 year old, on drugs. REALLY BAD!!! Bad build, bad & unsafe electrical, bad everything.
Unfortunately I would say 99% of the people/companies offering professional conversion are not qualified to do them. You can’t believe what you see on Youtube either, 99% of the people offering how to videos, have zero experience, or are promoters just after your money.
Factory built rigs have to adhere to strict safety standards that none of these “professional conversion” people do. There are less than a handful of companies in the whole USA who are actually qualified professionals, and their prices are very high, and their waiting lists are very long.
I would highly suggest an unmodified factory motorhome with an RVIA certification.
The only thing I have against full size buses is that you won’t be able to camp or park in as many places as a van or ambulance size vehicle. It would be far too restrictive for me, as I don’t use RV parks (that may not allow a bus anyway), and like to camp at smaller campgrounds such as those offered by the USFS, BLM, and NPS.
I totally agree that there are definite advantages to being able to fit in a normal parking spot.