When you are thinking about moving into a van full time, it can be highly confusing and overwhelming to choose which van or bus to choose. However, a great solution to the problem is a shuttle bus, but the costs involved with converting something so big can feel overwhelming.
On average, it will cost between $10,000 and $30,000 to buy and convert a shuttle bus into a home on wheels. The initial cost of the bus can be as low as $1,800 or up to $20,000 depending on the age and type of shuttle bus that you are getting, with modifications after that all being variable.
One of the biggest challenges that we have seen with converting a shuttle bus is that there are many types, shapes, and sizes on the market considered shuttle buses. To understand which buses are which and the overall cost, we are looking at five popular builds from YouTube.
What Is Considered A Shuttle Bus?
Strictly speaking, any bus that travels from one point to another and then back again is considered a shuttle bus. All shuttle buses only travel short distances each day, going along the same route and many times being entirely free to use for whoever has a pass or is on campus.
Most shuttle buses will be significantly smaller than a regular bus for this reason, as it never needs to carry a large number of people across a whole city. You may even find that shuttle buses look similar to small RVs rather than their bus cousins, which have flat noses to help with turning.
The most common shuttle bus shape used for vanlife conversions is the ones made by Ford, with models dating back to the 1980’s. However, because the shuttle buses are bought for the most affordable price points, no one model of the shuttle bus has reigned supreme.
5 Real Life Shuttle Bus Conversion Cost Examples
Now that we know what is considered a shuttle bus, we need to look at five of the best shuttle bus builds currently on YouTube. Each one is unique and is seen as being much more affordable than many of its competitors.
We recommend looking at each one and designing your shuttle bus build according to the lessons that many of these builders have had to learn. Sometimes spending less on the actual shuttle bus is not the best idea, as it will be your home for several years; you want something that will never die.
Navigation Nowhere’s Four Week Conversion ($24,000)
Over four weeks, this 1999 350 Chassis Ford shuttle bus was converted from being an utterly regular bus into one of the best conversions driving across the US. Navigation Nowhere teamed up with Road Roots Up Fitters to complete the bus, with its fiberglass body and a 7.2-liter engine.
Overall, the bus and conversion have been estimated to cost around $24,000 by watchers of both channels, with the most cost being for the internal construction. The overall costs of the build were calculated on the base cost of the shuttle bus and then the cost of materials to construct everything.
Growing Slow & Wild’s Shuttle Conversion ($12,000)
A young couple still finding their space on YouTube, Growing Slow and Wild, built their shuttle bus from the ground up, getting their 2003 Ford E450 for $5,000. With the following costs to store, fix, and remodel the bus’s interior, total expenses were below $12,000.
This is one of the most affordable builds by YouTubers and has shown how cheap a complete conversion can be. However, it should be noted that one of the running costs so far for the couple has been the constant mechanical maintenance on the engine of the vehicle.
Our Way To Roam’s Shuttle Costs ($30,000)
A more modern interior, the couple of Savannah and Drew built their shuttle bus starting in 2020 when they got the 2007 Ford E450 with its V10 engine in it. The couple spent $15,000 on the bus before modifications, then a further $15,000 to build everything, making the total $30,000.
While the couple did try to save as much money as possible, their total price is expected to be more typical for shuttle bus builds. Most shuttle buses will cost this much because of the high demand, with newer buses costing significantly more than usual.
This Tiny House Giant Journey Shuttle Conversion ($30,000)
Gloria is a unique story as she is a single person living in shuttle buses that she converts all on her own with only some help from friends or family. The first project was started in early 2019 and helped her continue to both works and live wherever she wanted by creating a business out of converting vans and shuttle buses.
While Gloria has been quite strict about not revealing the price of her converted shuttle, it has been confirmed that she sold the shuttle for around $30,000. However, she did have to sacrifice not having her toilet in the shuttle to make space for more closet and shower space.
A Shuttle Bus Conversion For A Family ($15,000)
Not everyone wants to travel the world alone, and when you have a family, you need to build something capable of surviving dirt roads and having the space for your family. This build was started in 2018 and completed in early 2019 and has been the permanent home ever since.
The bus itself was only $4,000 before having any mechanical repairs done, with an additional $11,000 spent to make the interior livable. Over the years, the couple has spent more on renovating the bus, with Juby sometimes living alone while Justin goes off to do some work.
If you are planning on converting your shuttle bus, you will have to keep in mind that there are some costs that you cannot avoid. However, buying and converting your shuttle bus will always be more affordable than having to buy a house and trying to stay afloat living in one place.
Whatever you do, please don’t think that you can save money by buying the cheapest bus!
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.