Imagine paying less than US$20,000 (RM82,440) for your dream home.
Now imagine being able to take that home with you wherever you travel.
That’s the reality for Wichita (Kansas) couple Sam and Jordan Page – and Penni the Yorkie-Poo.
Over the past eight months, the Pages have converted a school bus into a posh tiny home.
Now that the project is almost complete, the Pages intend to travel the United States in their home on wheels – a quest (which they dub “Paging Adventure”) that they plan to document on social media.
But their travels in “Addie the Adventure Bus” are motivated by more than just a sense of wanderlust.
Sam Page has a doctorate in physical therapy and travels for the profession, working three-month residencies in different parts of the country. His wife, Jordan Page, works remotely as a communications manager for a New Jersey-based company.
The two will travel wherever Sam has to go for his travelling physical therapist job, chasing good weather, national parks and, occasionally, good cellphone signals.
“(Travelling) was something we always had in our minds, but it never worked out with my job,” Jordan said.
She started working remotely last November, after marketing stints at Wichita’s SJCF Architecture and the Museum of World Treasures.
“The second she got this job, it was like, ‘It’s time to go’,” Sam added.
The two began planning their travelling life as soon as Jordan got the remote-work opportunity, she said.
At the time, they were renting a 65sqm apartment at the Lofts at St Francis, just north of Intrust Bank Arena.
At first, the thought was to build a tiny home and tow it behind a truck.
The problem with that: Not only would they have to build a tiny home, they’d also have to buy a truck.
Scrolling through different websites, they stumbled upon “schoolies”, school-buses-turned-tiny-homes.
“Surprisingly, school buses are for sale everywhere,” Jordan said.
“It’s amazing how cheap school buses go for,” Sam added.
The two bought a retired 2003 Chevrolet Blue Bird school bus from Ponca City, Oklahoma, on Dec 7, 2017, and took it back to a family house in far north Wichita.
“We finally drove back around midnight, and I’m following my dad, driving the bus, and I’m thinking, ‘What have I done?’” Sam joked.
From then on, Sam and Jordan “had two full-time jobs”, working both their day jobs and spending multiple hours every night fixing up the school bus.
The Pages had an all-in budget of US$20,000 (RM82,440) for the project and, barring any unforeseen complications, Sam said, “we’re going to be well below that”.
The two designed the floor plan themselves, inspired by other school bus conversions they’d seen online.
Though it’s only about 19sqm, the space feels larger, partially because of added headroom. The two raised the roof of the bus about 40cm, essentially chopping off the existing roof and welding custom metal pieces on to extend the height.
“That gave us a little more breathing room,” Jordan said.
The bus is totally decked out with vinyl wood-look flooring; a kitchen set-up with a miniature range, sink and wood-burning stove; a shower and composting toilet; and a bedroom tucked away behind a rolling bookcase.
That, combined with the two couches, a wall-mounted desk and a wood accent wall, make for a cosy living space.
The Pages fitted the bus with R-20 insulation as well as an air-conditioning unit and a heat pump.
“The biggest issue is the windows,” Sam said. “They leak a lot of heat, but we wanted to keep the facade of the school bus. A lot of people sheet metal their bus and put in RV (Recreational Vehicle) windows, but we wanted to keep the (school bus) look.”
The floor plan maximises the space available – nearly every seating area also doubles as storage, and even their bed can fold into the back wall to create extra space when needed.
“We were scared about storage, but when we started piecing the cabinets together, we found we’ve probably got more storage than we need,” Sam said.
“With the huge help” of Sam’s parents, the two did all of the renovation work themselves, which saved on costs, Jordan said.
In the future, they plan to add a rooftop deck to the bus, as well as solar panels.
The bus is equipped with a cellphone signal booster – which in turn should enable Jordan to do her work from the bus via a WiFi hotspot.
The bus, easily recognisable with its teal paint job, will flat-tow a regular car behind it during the Pages’ journeys so that they don’t have to take the bus everywhere when they’re in a city.
At first, they will stay at RV parks (with electrical hook-ups) most nights, Sam said. That may change once they add solar panels to the bus, he said.
“To start, we’ve become accustomed to a certain style of life, so we’ll stay in RV parks for a little bit, then try to go off-grid for a bit and see how that goes,” Sam said.
Their house on wheels will have an extra cost most homeowners don’t have to worry about – diesel fuel.
“It’s a big Caterpillar motor,” Sam said. “There will probably be some mechanic bills included in our home ownership.”
Addie the Adventure Bus affords the Pages the opportunity to work and to travel, “which is what we love doing more than anything,” Jordan said.
“We have an amazing community of people here in Wichita … that we’re going to really miss,” she added. “We want to go, but we don’t want to leave. We really do love Wichita, but we really want to see everything.”
Their first stop: Oregon, after which they’re planning to spend time in the Southwest.
Think you see the Pages on the road?
Just check the licence plate: “ADVNTR.” – Tribune News Service/The Wichita Eagle/Matt Riedl