RV, Van or Bus...Conflicted!


So to start off this is my first post/ forum so hi!! I’m 17 and I’ve been interested in the whole van life for a couple years and I’m getting close to actually being able to buy a vehicle of choice…however this is also my dilemma! I started off falling in complete love with buying an old high top van and converting it myself with my dads help, I absolutely love the vibe that I get from just thinking about it and I’m sure many of you can relate. Thinking about van life some more I decided that a toilet/shower/more space was going to be a must for me to be able to live happily on the road and besides, Van’s are too expensive for me to afford so the next idea was an old motorhome that I renovate myself. This sounds good to me except I dont have the same excited puppy love vibe which is a little disappointing but I was fine living without the vibe. Then I came across the idea of converting a shuttle bus the other day while searching for motorhomes and I had that vibe back! I was so excited again so i brought this idea up to my dad and he explained to me that it’d be a lot of time/money/work to certify it as an RV. I went to do my own research on this and I agree…reading the requirements feels very discouraging and scary but i still really love the idea of the bus. So I need help!!! What should I do?? Can you guys please share you’re experiences with either rv/motorhomes and converting your own bus?

(Edit) forgot to add that I’d be living in the vehicle for holiday breaks from school, weekends, summer, and then eventually I will be living in said vehicle for a min. of 6 months (a summer and a semester or 2 while in college, during those semester(s)I will be studying online)


Greetings & Welcome!

By your description, you need something that is going to be stealthy to park on city streets etc. This limits your choices to vans.

Building it yourself is a very poor choice for newbies. The promoters are looking for suckers to make expensive purchases that will translate into money into their pockets. Don’t be a sucker. Older, move in ready, factory built camper vans can be found much cheaper than you can build your own. You want one that is fully depreciated and not more than maybe $5k-$6k. You DON’T want to remodel it, find one that is suitable to begin with, floor plans mean EVERYTHING!

Only lots of time and experience will qualify you to build or remodel something. Until then, nobody can tell you accurately what you’ll want or need down the line, that takes actual experience living this lifestyle.

I can tell you some things to avoid, solar panels for one, and 12v compressor fridges top the list of foolish purchases. Both are expensive, and neither are the best choices. Get something that is move in ready, and live in it the way it was originally designed. A propane fridge, and charging your house battery while driving are both better choices. If you need additional power, a cheapie generator and battery charger are far cheaper and more efficient than solar.

Vehicles can be money pits, I lost over $30k in just one year on a newer, self converted van. I have never lost money on any of my older, cheaper vehicles. There are tons of factory camper vans from the 70’s & 80’s that are still in excellent shape and can be bought cheap. The less you invest, the less you have the potential of losing. There’s a reason there are still so many of those old campers on the road, they were built to last, unlike the newer stuff.


"Those who believe money can't buy hapiness, don't have either." ~ An Anonymous Vandweller


Actually I intend to boondock mostly, I dont want to spend much time in cities at all, so I do want solar panels and i fully believe in my father and my own capabilities in building/remodeling anything that needs to be done. As for the older fully built Van’s, do you have websites you used/recommend because I have yet to see any on facebook/craigslist ect. That have what I’m looking for: toilet, shower, SPACE