Not just for hippies anymore, the VW bus seems to be the epitome of traveling adventure. And they make snazzy little houses, too! Their stubby shape, tell-tale buzzing engine and ability to be customized have given the VW bus a dedicated following. If you are going to live for any length of time in a VW bus, you will most likely be living in a vintage bus that has been refurbished.
The original VW bus, the Plattenwagen, was designed by businessman Ben Pon from the Netherlands in 1947. His idea was considered revolutionary at the time and the design had to be built by Volkswagen on the chassis of the beetle car.
My favorite VW conversion belongs to the Bumfuzzle couple, Pat and Ali Schulte. They have traveled through most of North and South American and part of Europe with their 1958 panel van and have created attention wherever they go. Ali affectionately calls it their little house. This van will soon be going up for sale in the UK, as the couple are going to have their first baby. Keep an eye on their website and you might be able to snap it up.
Chad and Ana Memmel are also living and traveling the world in their 1977 VW Type 2 bus with a pop-up named Mango. They have a great list on their website of what they modified to make their mobile home more liveable.
Luke Janes has been living in a 1977 VW bus named Charlie for the last 6 years. He started living in his bus because he wanted to be able to work for the work and play for the play. He came to love so many of the “fringe benefits” that he now prefers it as a lifestyle, and he choses to continue to live in the bus. He gives a few advantages and disadvantages of living in a bus:
- Low impact: No electricity, no heating, no natural gas, small land use, low construction materials next to a home.
- Freedom: No lease, no rent, no mortgage.
- Preparedness: Everywhere he goes, he has everything he needs
- Financial ease: His monthly expenses are low
- Simplicity: No room for excess stuff
- Cleanliness: Everything has its place.
- Health: He goes to the gym most days, and bike most places.
- Beauty: With a little driving he can move his home to the places where people spend millions of dollars to live
- Connection to community: It keeps him spending a lot of time in public spaces — gyms, cafes, parks, restaurants.
- Resourcefulness: He has learned a lot of skills working on the bus
He adds that living in a bus allows him to winnow down the people he associates with. “People put off by this tend to be closed-minded or boring, and people interested in this tend to be open-minded and adventurous. This means that all of my friends and lovers are open minded and interesting! Sweet!”
Luke also lists the disadvantages of living in a bus:
- It can be illegal
- It may be unsafe for women
- It can be stereotyped
- Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter
- You can’t cook or clean dishes easily or keep things that need cold refrigeration
- You can’t throw good parties
- Getting mail and packages can be problematic
Even with their disadvantages, what is it about these colorful little buses that keep people coming back? Maybe it’s the community of bus lovers. It seems that once you meet another VW bus owner, they become a quick friend…if not family.
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