DIYHow Much Does a School Bus Conversion Cost

December 20, 2021by Mike Mayleben

Are you excited about getting into the skoolie world after seeing all the lovely inspirations and beginner skoolie plans we’ve shared? Then, it’s time to bring up the realistic money issue — How much does a school bus conversion cost?

Generally speaking, you are looking at somewhere around $50,000 for a basic build with a medium-to-low-mileage school bus, or $30,000 with a high-mileage school bus. These do not include any long-term cost estimates.

You’ll find plenty of numbers here and there. And you’ll quickly notice how drastically these numbers vary from each other. That’s why referring to other resources will often save you a lot of time and money.

skoolie sunset
Image Credit: @thedigitalnomadguy on Instagram

What Goes Into the Cost of a Basic Conversion

To understand or estimate the total cost of your conversion, first, you need to know what goes into a basic conversion. The list below sums up the biggest pieces to consider when budgeting for a conversion:

  • Your school bus
  • Cost for utilities
  • Materials and Tools
  • Furniture
  • Essential Appliances
  • Long-Term Costs

How Much Does a Used School Bus Cost

Your first major expense would, of course, be your school bus. In case you’re wondering, a brand new school bus can cost from $90,000 to $290,000. Therefore, most people would look for used ones to turn into a tiny, mobile home.

How much does a used school bus cost? The size, mileage, year, and comprehensive condition of the bus all impact the pricing differently. For a school bus with 120k to 140k miles, the cost is around $4,000 to $10,000. Meanwhile, a bus with fewer than 50k miles is usually between $15,000 to $40,000, sometimes more.

school bus conversion interior
Image Credit: @bibia_bus on Instagram

Cost for Utilities

The two major utility costs are energy and water.

For energy, most people choose to go with solar panels plus an emergency backup generator. For simple electric circuits powered by solar, you’re looking at $1,000 to $3,000. It is common for people to do their own wiring, but you can also hire an electrician knowledgeable about RV and skoolie conversions.

Meanwhile, plumbing cost can vary quite significantly depending on what you’re comfortable with. Skoolie plumbing is just like RV, it would mainly be tanked, or you can add the option to hook it up with a permanent system, or at least a sewer connection. Many campsites also provide water and electricity hook-ups.

How Much Would Your Interior Cost

The next big piece in your conversion is the interior. We’re only talking about the most essential pieces here. If you have a high standard in aesthetics or choose to use a unique floorplan, then, be ready to make a much larger investment.

On average, a basic interior would cost around $20,000 to $30,000. This price includes the cost of raw materials, essential appliances, and whatever tools and equipment you need to buy or rent.

bus conversion cost sample
Image Credit: @buslife955 on Instagram

Research Before You Start

As we mentioned at the beginning, there are future costs associated with school bus conversion projects that many newcomers aren’t familiar with. For example, you must factor in the cost of a school bus conversion insurance to even legally take your new bus home. 

Finally, be okay with going over your budget a little bit. It happens a lot with skoolie conversion projects even with those more experienced. When unsure, ask questions do good research. Most importantly, have fun!

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

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