What is the best school bus to convert to RV?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: What is the best school bus to convert to RV? We will discuss seven important aspects to consider when choosing the right type of bus for conversion. 

What is the best school bus to convert to RV?

The best school bus to convert to RV will greatly depend on what you are looking for, how often you are going to use it and of course, what is your budget. This is why, in the table below we discuss seven important criteria that will, ultimately, help you make a choice. 

Criteria to choose a school bus to convert to RV

Bus modelDog-nose –  We recommend choosing a dog-nose type of bus for:
Easy access to the engine;
In a head-on collision in an accident, the hood would absorb much of the shock and the passengers and driver in the front would be better protected.
Flat-nose – Choose a flat-nose type of bus for:
More space inside the vehicle;
For a smoother and quieter ride.
Bus sizeA1 – A conversion or body built on a truck-type vehicle or on the front of a vehicle with the driver’s door on the left, designed to carry more than 10 people.
A2 – A conversion or body built on a truck-type vehicle or on the front of a vehicle with the driver’s door on the left, designed to carry more than 10 people.
B – A conversion or body built on a truck-type vehicle or on the front of a vehicle’s chassis or on the chassis only. Part of the engine is under or behind the windshield and next to the driver’s seat. The front door is behind the front wheels.
C – A body installed on a flatback hood chassis designed to carry more than 10 people. The engine is in front of the windshield and the front door is behind the front wheels.
D – A body installed on a chassis with the engine mounted in the front, centre or rear designed to carry more than 10 people. 
The engine can go behind the windshield and next to the driver’s seat, at the rear of the bus behind the rear wheels, or in the centre, between the front and rear axles. The front door is in front of the front wheels.
Bus transmissionManual:
Usually cheaper to acquire and maintain;
A lot more difficult to master for novice drivers.
Automatic transmissions are the norm on buses made from 2000 and onwards;
Usually more reliable and easier to find parts for service. 
Bus brakesHydraulic:
Easier to maintain and check;
Better resistance to cold.
Can freeze if left unused for a long time;
 Better braking quality but engage with a half-second delay.
The bus engineDiesel:
Easier to find and refuel;
Better and longer engine life;
Consumes about 15% less than a gasoline engine.
Gas:More affordable prices;
Gasoline engines are easier to service and maintain;
Requires more frequent revisions, but is quite inexpensive to repair. 
Bus mileageLess than 200,00 miles:
Less mileage should always be the first choice, but you must be careful and check if the bus doesn’t have other engine issues. 
Make sure you check the condition of the:
Injection pump,EGR valve,The particulate filterThe turbo, which tends to clog and is one of the common causes of engine failure.The dual-mass flywheel. 
More than 200,000 miles:
Refer to the maintenance book of the second-hand Skoolie and make sure you check:
When was the last time that the oil has been changed;Are there any replaced parts?What type of engine does it has?Where was the bus stored (whether exposed to harsh climate);The condition of the tires.
Bus amenitiesSemi-converted bus: 
A semi-converted bus will have its floors and windows removed and replaced. 
Some amenities that a semi-converted bus can have:
A clean/freshwater tank;A grey/wastewater tank;A propane tank;Seats and a table (the table can be retracted);A bed or bunk obtained by converting the seats;A kitchen area: electric or gas;Storage spaces.
No amenities installed:
A bus that needs to be converted from scratch has to be:
Gutted;The seats must be removed;Sanded and painted;Windows and doors replaced;Insulated;Handicap lift removed;Water tanks installed, and so on.
Take all of these aspects into consideration when deciding which type of bus to convert!

How much does it cost to convert a school bus to an RV?

The DIY cost of a Skoolie, with all the comforts of home like a working kitchen and bathroom, can cost anywhere from $7460 to $ 22400.However, reusing building materials and a lot of sweating can significantly reduce the costs of conversion.

Much of the construction involves standard building materials, such as insulation board, plywood, flooring, and trim. Plumbing and electrical systems can be equipped with RV and marine products for optimum compactness and portability.

Where to buy a school bus for conversion?

There are some common places to look for buying a used school bus:

  • Bus dealers: One of the largest dealerships is Creative Bus Sales. You can search for what’s in stock on their website.
  • Online Auctions: eBay usually has many listings for second-hand buses.
  • Local classifieds: Craigslist is a good place to start.

Before bidding or buying a bus, review vehicle maintenance records and inspect the bus inside and out. Look for significant rust on the undercarriage/chassis, bodywork and floor inside the bus. A few localized rust spots aren’t a big deal, but widespread rust is a sure headache.

How to register a school bus as an RV?

Here is a concise summary of all the steps you will need to follow in order to have a converted bus approved in the US:

  1. Apply to the manufacturer for authorization to decommission the vehicle;
  1. Make a plan of the layout of the vehicle, noting everything that will be changed in the specifications;
  1. Carry out work on the bus to standards by following the steps of approval;
  1. Present the vehicle to an approved inspection body: they will check all gas-related installations, electrical installations, ventilation, and heating in order to obtain the certificate required for the file;
  1. Weigh the vehicle with all the fittings, the water tanks, the full tank of diesel, the driver, the front axle, the rear axle, and both axles at the same time in order to obtain another certificate required for the file;
  1. Submit the complete file to the prefecture, attach all the documents and wait to be summoned by the mining department. The mining engineer performs several checks, then declares the vehicle compliant with a report. This report is itself transmitted to the Prefecture;
  1. Apply for a vehicle registration certificate for the approved vehicle.

Final advice

Converting a school bus to an RV can be a difficult but at the same time very rewarding experience. For many people, Skoolies are totally worth it. A Skoolie offers a way to always be on the go without sacrificing the comforts that a home offers. 

School buses are also a blank canvas – once the seats are removed the possibilities are endless. The design will depend on the number of people that will be accommodated on the bus, as well as their lifestyle and needs.

What do you think? Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments and opinions on the content.

FAQ on What is the best school bus to convert to RV?

What class motorhome is a Skoolie?

Being a bus conversion, a Skoolie will most likely be registered as a Class A motorhome by your insurance company. And yes, you will have to register your Skoolie as an RV if you want to insure it. 

Are Skoolies a good investment?

Skoolies are a good investment as long as you are willing to commit to the conversion process and are ready financially speaking. A Skoolie can become a great RV or even a more permanent home. 

How much is a Skoolie worth?

A Skoolie is worth $20,000 to $30,000 for the initial build-out. Depending on the number of amenities and modifications that you are going to make, the worth of your Skoolie will increase significantly.

How long does it take to build a Skoolie?

Building a Skoolie can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on your level of training, the time you have, whether you will have help or not, and of course, your resources.

Is a Skoolie considered an RV?

Yes, A Skoolie is considered an RV. They have become popular recently and are nothing more than converted school buses. They are spacious and offer plenty of room to decorate and furnish as you may please. 


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