Starla Sullivan, 29, and her husband Brian were housesitting when the inspiration for a nontraditional abode came about.
The couple was staying temporarily at an expansive, cookie-cutter house owned by Sullivan’s mom who was away on vacation. It looked like every other home on the block with a manicured lawn. It was the classic American dream home, Sullivan said.
“Staying there helped me realize I didn’t want one of those big, ticky tacky, they-all-look-just-the-same houses,” Sullivan said. “To me, it was just big, dark, lonely and sad.”
While housesitting, the couple cosied up in front of a fire and watched YouTube videos. They stumbled upon a “random” couple who lived inside a converted school bus.
The pair from just outside Seattle, Washington spent the next year renovating a retired school bus they purchased for $2,800. The process was gruelling, with Starla being pregnant and Brian working full-time drilling aeroplane parts.
When he got off work, they YouTubed their way into turning the lengthy van into a suitable home. They documented their journey on a YouTube channel and Facebook page. The home project let Starla Sullivan put her interior design degree to good use, she said.
“It was really fun to be able to design my own space. But beyond that, my husband did all the plumbing, all the electrical and all of the gas work,” she added. The couple originally painted the exterior of the vehicle together, but a sudden rain shower ruined it. So they outsourced help on the paint job.
More than five years, three kids and over $30,000 later, it was well worth it in the end, Sullivan said.
“Before, we lived in a $1,600 apartment with horrible lighting and could smell our neighbours smoke next door,” she recalled. “Now we’re paying maybe a third of that, and we live parked on four acres of land. I’m 100% sold on the bus.”