The cost of home ownership, as well as the cost of living, has grown significantly in the last couple of decades, and in today's uncertain economy, young people are finding it especially difficult to make ends meet. Some are finding it much easier -- and more sensible -- to challenge and transform their own expectations of what their 'dream' lifestyle looks and feels like. Living fully and within one's means may not look as flashy as a McMansion lifestyle, but many are finding a more minimalist way of life to be much more rewarding than they thought.
Take Julie and Andrew Puckett, a couple based about half an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia. They have ditched their city apartment and are living a relatively short distance away from the cultural highlights of a major urban center. But they don't live in a house -- they are living in a 1990 Blue Bird school bus that they converted into a comfortable, 200-square-foot one-bedroom home. Take the tour via TIny House Listings:
Getting used to the idea of living in a renovated bus, which they call Housebus, took some time. Having moved to Atlanta from Chicago, both were working more than one job to help pay the rent on that aforementioned apartment in one of the city's gentrifying neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, when it came time to renew their lease, their landlord raised their rent a whopping 30 percent, forcing them to consider other options. Julie says that they thought about purchasing a tiny home, but the huge initial cost was an obstacle, in addition to the fact that most local tiny house builders had a months-long waiting list, and the Pucketts were obliged to move -- soon. That's when Julie chanced upon the idea of converting a bus, as she tells Country Living:
At first, my reaction was incredulity, but after seeing some interior shots, that quickly turned into excitement. The most exciting part was when I found a bus conversion that had been done by a cattle rancher for use during calving season—it was in our budget, and only a few states away. I immediately shot off an inquiry, and the rest is history.
With only a few months left on their lease, the couple purchased the bus for USD $10,000 and completely redid the interior of the bus to suit their needs, with a bit of help from Julie's father, a carpenter. Much of the furniture they designed themselves and is multifunctional: seating and a bed platform that doubles as storage, fold-away furniture that makes way for the couple's dog and cat.
The once-dark interior is enlarged with an overall facelift of white paint, "oceanic fabrics" and lots of reflective surfaces that bounce natural daylight around. Beyond the kitchen is the bathroom with shower and composting toilet, closet and the bedroom all the way at the back. Heating comes via a vintage-looking woodstove. There's a bit of a marine, Moby Dick theme going on here.
Freed from the tedious task of working overtime just to live, the most notable thing is that both Julie and Andrew now have time to pursue their passions in music and spend more time with each other. Says Julie:
Before the move, we were often too busy hustling to have the lightning "Ah-ha!" moments of thoughtfulness we find ourselves with now. We're at peace here in a way we never were before, and we've been able to be intentional with our energy. After all, being busy doesn't equate to being fulfilled. Today, we're so much more available, emotionally and otherwise, to do kind, satisfying things on a daily basis.
While small homes won't tackle the myriad of complex issues surrounding the affordable housing crisis, it seems that one of the most remarkable things about the simple living movement is not the beautiful tiny homes we so often see. In fact, it's about finding a way out of the traps that society has set up for us, with its ever-present demands to consume more than we need, or to work long hours to afford a lifestyle that doesn't make us truly happy. That way out looks different for each of us, and thankfully, more and more people are waking up to the fact that they can live differently, even if it takes a little courage to do so. For more, visit Housebus.
To see more inspirational bus conversions, check out Kimberley's book, The Modern House Bus.