Tiny homes and scaled-down living is all the rage. So is DIY, and Jessie Lipskin was one of many who decided to jump on the bandwagon.
She left her New York home for something more nomadic. What she didn’t realize was just how much it was going to cost her, and not just in money.
It seemed like a dream deal. The 1966 Greyhound bus was only going for 7k on eBay.
Compared to apartment prices in the area, it seemed like a no-brainer. It was also the aesthetic she was hoping for. It arrived in the expected condition, but she didn’t expect just how much work was coming.
None the less, Jessie remained excited about the dream of an eco-friendly lifestyle and seeing the country in something other than an RV or airplane.
She stripped the inside down to its barebones and started on the floor plan to utilize as much space as possible while keeping the overall look as luxurious as she could afford.
Aside from storage, Jessie realized that the driving and general movement of the bus would need to be factored into construction.
Meaning, there would be small shifts within the bus every time she turned or parked at a different angle. Little things could also fall and break. This meant she couldn’t tackle construction all by herself.
On top of it all, she had no experience in electrical work or plumbing – a crucial thing for her new home.
She had to reach out to friends and family or professionals with experience (keeping in mind that not all of her family supported her project). One such person customized all woodwork she couldn’t do herself.
Slater, a local carpenter, was called in to finish all the closest, cupboards, countertops, and other projects.
On her Instagram story, she described his work as “amazing carpentry”. He was able to help her realize the initial floorplan she had created. But then there was the matter of lights, water, … and toilets.
In the end, more professionals needed to be called in to handle the larger problems.
The bathroom needed a shower with mahogany slotted floors that would allow drainage into a grey water tank under the bus. There were also small fixes that needed to be addressed. How did it compare to her old place?
According to Jessie, the new space still felt larger than a Manhattan apartment.
With the ability to move around, and intentional lack of television, she could fulfill her travel dreams while catching up on her neglected reading list. It was a 3-year dream come true. So, what did the final result look like?
Inside and out, it was simple and white, yet chic. There was plenty of closet space as well as a place for guests to sleep.
There was, however, no toilet – she would use facilities of whatever place was nearby and open to her. The starting price was a reasonable $7k, but what was the final price?
Add another $70k for professional remodeling plus another $50k for repairs and upgrades, and the bus ended up a whopping $132,000 dollars!
Traveling and paying off the debts would be the logical next step but in a surprising turn of events … she decided to try and sell it. What were people’s reactions?
Many loved the transformation and were inspired to take on their own buses. However, there were many others that thought the $149,000 asking price was far too expensive.
For that much money, someone could buy a whole house. Compared to New York, it might sound like a deal, but no one would take the offer.
The first attempt was Craigslist. After that was eBay (the platform she originally bought it from).
After multiple tries, it was finally sold to an Airbnb property in the desert that charged $100 a night. Meanwhile, Jessie was looking at opportunities to live aboard. There is a final lesson for anyone “inspired” by bus revival.
Remodeling projects like this seem “doable”. After all, you see many success stories online.
However, what’s not seen are the little things that sprout grey hairs. For example, Jessie couldn’t drive the bus and needed to ask others to relocate her home when she wanted to move. Then are little things that pop up.
Old engines are diesel and not that environmentally friendly.
Even if it’s not driven that much, there is still wastewater, power consumption, and proper waste disposal. To make these completely eco-happy would take far more money than most people could invest. It also requires planning ahead to find places that offer such facilities
Tires are expensive to replace. Thin windows make heating a problem. Parking isn’t always available.
There are weight, size, and propane restrictions for many freeways and tunnels. Brakes need to be excellent. Things fall and break. And it will need regular maintenance and resource replenishment (like water). It’s certainly not for the faint of heart (or wallet).