A few months ago, my husband and I sat down to write out a budget. He recently returned to school and with two young kids at home, funds were tight, to say the least. We quickly realized that our housing expenses were too high, even though our rent was surprisingly low for the area. We began to brainstorm ways to cut down costs and fell upon the tiny home idea. Being on a tight budget or both time and money, building a tiny home from scratch was out of the question and buying one already built was out of our price range. We toyed with the idea of doing a bus conversion, but again, wanted to move in as soon as possible. I began to browse Craigslist for 5th wheels or RVs that would fit our needs. As soon as I saw the ad for what is now our home, I knew it was perfect.
It was listed for $8,500, at the top of our budget. We decided to go take a look at it. The attendants at the lot (it was at an RV dealership on consignment) really tried to discourage us from buying the coach, and we could see why. Dirt, grime, mold and garbage littered the RV, an active leak dripped onto the musty old couch and they had no idea if any of the appliances or systems functioned. We loved it. After a quick discussion, we offered them half of their asking price and they accepted.
Downsizing was our next task, we sold all of our furniture and 80% of our belongings, most of the kids’ toys (with their approval) and tons of bags of clothing, shoes and household items.
We spent the next two months gutting and remodeling the bus. Some of it could be salvaged: the countertops, sinks, shower, cabinets, cupboards and washer/dryer combo were usable. We tore out the ceiling, the floors, scraped the walls and repainted everything. We replaced the fridge, took out the microwave and used the space for countertop oven, took out all of the RV furniture and replaced it with actual fixtures.
To make space for our two kids, we took out the queen bed that was in the rear bedroom, tore out the closet doors, filled in the door between the bedroom and bathroom and built a custom bunk in the closet. Because the engine is located under the bed platform, we couldn’t remove it. Instead, we built up the rest of the room to be level with the platform.
We took out the passenger and driver’s seats (the driver’s seat can be reinstalled for travel) and built a queen sized bunk over the cab. My husband and I sleep up there and it’s very solid and comfortable, wasted space otherwise! The space underneath is used as a closet and for extra storage. The bunk has to be removed for travel, but it only takes us 15-20 minutes and is very simple.
We live in our RV (about 300 sq feet) full time, on a beautiful piece of property that we rent from friends of ours. Because we installed a composting toilet, we only need electric and water hook ups. Our gray water irrigates a little orchard on our space.
Living tiny has been wonderful so far. Our kids love it and we all feel closer and happier. We spend less time cleaning and stressing about housework and more time together, we’re able to spend lots of time outdoors and enjoy having a bit more disposable income to use for fun activities!