Converting an old school bus into your home on the go is a pretty big job. Fortunately, lots of people have done it already and there is a lot of advice and community support to help you along the way. You can easily reach out to the Skoolie community, get inspired, and find guidance.
If you are toying with the idea of converting a used school bus into the mini home of your dreams, the first thing you are probably wondering is, “Where can I buy a cheap school bus?”
The costs of converting a skoolie can add up really quickly, so getting a great deal on a bus is an important first step in the process.
So, where can you buy a cheap school bus? I recommend that you start your search online. Some great websites help connect buyers and sellers of used school buses. You can find cheap school buses of every make, model, and condition with just a few clicks on the web. Here are some sites to get you started on your journey to buying the school bus of your dreams…
Top 10 places to buy a cheap school bus:
1. Public Surplus
This website is pretty basic looking but has a lot of listings. School districts and other government agencies post used buses of all kinds on this popular site. You can find a cheap school bus or a bus used for public transportation.
The sales are auction-style – just like eBay or Gov Deals (more on them later) – which can be a little frustrating for some buyers. This is a really popular site and the last few minutes of each auction tend to get pretty competitive. What seems like an amazing deal on a cheap bus can disappear in a matter of minutes.
There also seem to be mixed reviews about customer service through the website itself. Keep in mind that this website is just a link between the buyer and the seller. There is certainly some risk involved in purchasing a bus sight unseen.
But overall, there are a lot of people who have found great deals on this website. I think it’s a great place to start your online search for a used school bus.
2. Facebook Marketplace
Facebook is so much more than a simple social media site. Check out their marketplace. Do a simple search, such as “school buses for sale”, customize your location, budget and specific category. You’ll be surprised at how many options show up. Use the category filter. Otherwise, you might end up scrolling through a bunch of preschool school bus toys.
The listings provide whatever info the seller deems necessary and gives you the contact info to get directly in touch with them. There’s no middle man and you are essentially left to make a personal deal with the individual seller.
Craigslist is great because it is really local. One of the biggest disadvantages of finding a bus off of one of the other sites is that you might find the perfect cheap bus to convert into a skoolie, but you have to figure out how to get it home.
Craigslist lets you start in your home area and expand outwards little by little. I recommend you do a search for “school bus for sale” right off the bat. This will help you sift through the “fluff” and get right to what you are looking for.
4. Bus Life Adventure Classifieds
Bus Life Adventure is a great website. They have informative articles with tons of tips and advice about school bus conversions. You’ll also find stories about successful conversions and tales of folks living the skoolie life.
Oh yeah, there’s also a classified section.
There are relatively few ads published here, but they are all recent and up to date. You are not going to waste your time getting in contact with sellers who already sold their bus months ago.
5. Gov Deals
This is a website that allows different government agencies and institutions to sell used surplus items. You can find not only cheap school buses, but also find vans and even old ambulances! There are also some great deals on tools, used tires and other materials that you might find helpful in your conversion process.
This website is a national clearinghouse. You’ll find used school buses from all over the country.
Click on the option for “buses, transit, and school”. When I did my research, there were over 120 buses available through this online auction system.
This site is similar to eBay. If a certain reserve price is not met, the sale might not go through. I only mention this because it can be easy to get your hopes up on a super great deal, only to have it rejected when the auction ends.
6. Skoolie.net Classifieds
Finding a cheap school bus on skoolie.net can be a little tedious. Everything is offered through a forum format.
You have to sift through the posts, sometimes click through to outside websites or download files to view pictures. You also have to read through the threads on each bus you might be interested in to get the idea of what is being offered. Sometimes you get to the bottom of a thread only to find out that the used school bus was already sold!
All the same, this site is an amazing resource if you want to find a great “under the radar” deal. Sellers are individuals who have experience with school bus conversions and maintenance. It gives you a chance to learn all about a bus before making the trip to see it in person.
Be warned! These forums can become addictive!
Shopping on eBay is great. You can filter the search results for “used school bus” according to location, price range, fuel type, model, year, and condition. Some buses are available to purchase via auction, others by paying a set price or by making an offer to the seller.
I feel like shopping on eBay is pretty self-explanatory. Haven’t we all done it at one time or another? It’s easy to find a cheap school bus. Just be sure to read the fine print. Get in contact with the seller with any questions before committing to a purchase.
8. Conversion Trader
Conversion trader is a great place to look for a cheap school bus ready to convert. It’s an even better place to find a great deal on already converted buses. There are relatively few buses offered on the site – only about 100 vehicles in total.
The only thing I don’t like about this site is that they don’t post when a vehicle was listed. There’s nothing more disappointing than falling in love with an option only to get in touch with the seller to find out that the bus was sold months ago.
9. Northwest Bus Sales
If you feel better buying something from a dealership, Northwest Bus Sales is the place to go. They have a lot of listings with all the basic information, high-quality photos, and even a video walk through of the buses offered.
These guys have a workshop right on site. These buses are well maintained and ready to drive off the lot. If you can’t make it to the Seattle, Washington area or to their Las Vegas location, this dealership works with each customer to transport and deliver their bus.
If you don’t want to lose time with mechanics and prefer to jump right into the interior conversion of your skoolie, this dealership is a great place to start your search. They have some surprisingly cheap school buses in excellent condition.
10. Facebook Groups
Facebook has a marketplace, but they also have groups. These organized groups are a great place to connect with the skoolie community and to network your way to the bus of your dreams. People candidly share pictures of their conversion projects, offer advice and advertise their school buses for sale.
These groups can have millions of members and can be quite lively. Their primary goal is networking, not buying or selling. I recommend that you keep that in mind and enjoy the experience the groups provide. Feel free to ask for advice and tips regarding used school buses. There is a lot of collective knowledge out there to take advantage of! You might even find the cheap school bus of your dreams!
Here are a few different groups to get you started:
- Skoolies/Schoolies/School Bus Conversions For Sale USA
- School Buses For Sale Or Auction
- Used buses for sale
- School bus for sale
If you’re like me, it’s easy to get drawn into the fantasy that is someone else’s life. Our world is so connected these days. Through the internet and social media, it is easy to come across people living out their wildest dreams and sharing it all with the world. We just can’t stop looking at the amazing photos, blog posts, and fascinating videos.
Chase your dream of freedom, adventure and travel…
It’s so inspiring to see how other people live their lives, doing exactly what they want. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to those who have opted for the #vanlife or have taken up residence in a #skoolie.
I think it has something to do with a converted school bus I once saw. The owner was an old hippy who had traveled in that bus throughout the ’80s following the Grateful Dead. When she couldn’t keep the bus on the road, she found a piece of land up in the woods of western Washington, and she parked it.
She added on a porch, some extra supports under the frame and wheel areas, and planted some flowers out front. Eventually, she put a basic roof structure over her retired skoolie.
When I met her, this lady had been living in her bus for over 20 years. It was her only home. She’d raised her kids in it. She had traveled the entire west coast up and down for years before ending up in a spectacular grove up in the mountains.
Talk about inspiring. As I toured her bus and listened to her stories I realized that life is really what you make of it. Freedom, travel, and adventure are all at your fingertips if you let fear and doubt drop away.
For many, this idea of freedom is what draws us to the idea of buying a cheap school bus and hitting the road. If you’ve been fantasizing about it for a while now, you might be ready to make the leap.
Be sure to take your time when sifting through your buying options. Buying a cheap school bus can end up being quite expensive in the long run if you don’t know what you are getting yourself into. Be diligent in your research, know exactly what you want, and do not hesitate to ask as many questions as needed.
If you’ve discovered any other great websites or resources online that help connects buyers to used school buses, be sure to mention it in the comments.
Good luck with your search!
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Traci is a lifelong traveler and adventure seeker. She is currently raising her free-range children in rural Venezuela, works as a part-time dairy farmer and a freelance writer. Follow her on IG @traciraymond