Raven Tyler has been living in a repurposed school bus for six months—and she loves it.
The 33-year-old decided to give “skoolie life”—as those who live in school buses-turned-mobile homes call it—a try after seeing videos and stories online. She already felt she was paying too much in rent for her apartment and also liked the freedom that could come from having a home on wheels.
“I was giving literally all of my money away every month,” she says. “It just didn’t make much sense.”
Tyler, who parks in Montclair, lives in the bus with her 5-year-old daughter Myla, a cat, a German shepherd, and, occasionally, Tyler’s mother when she visits.
So how did Tyler find her bus? Last December, she saw an ad on Facebook Marketplace for a converted school bus in Florida. She flew down, purchased it for $20,000, and drove it back to New Jersey. The bus had already been furnished by its previous owner.
The interior of the bus, which Tyler nicknamed Nelli, is designed with practicality in mind. The entryway (which includes the stairs and the driver’s seat, and which Tyler has dubbed the cockpit) is where she leaves the pets’ bowls when the bus is stationary.
Walk back, and you’ll encounter the kitchen/living room area. On one side is a small sink with a removable cover, a stove, an oven and an L-shaped counter, and across the way is a futon. Farther back is the bathroom, with a toilet and shower, plus a pantry, small refrigerator and closet.
Tyler and Myla sleep in the bus’ sole bedroom, complete with a queen-size bed, cabinets and other small storage spaces.
Behind the bedroom is Myla’s play area, where the cat, MJ, likes to hide out when the dog, Homi, is too playful. Tyler plans to swap a table in the play area for a bed for Myla when she gets older.
While she no longer has to pay rent, Tyler has sizable expenses, including diesel and maintenance. Still, she doesn’t want people to equate living in a skoolie with financial struggle.
Tyler knows that the skoolie lifestyle is unconventional, despite having been around since the 1970s. She catches people doing double-takes as she drives and others peeking through her windows.
“It’s just a different way of living,” Tyler says. “Just because someone lives on a bus or in a van shouldn’t be a reflection of who they are as a person. There are a number of ways to live life.”
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