How Much Does A Used School Bus Cost? Go Tiny In A Skoolie

how much does a used school bus cost

Buses can be used for purposes other than transporting children to and from school. They are excellent starting points for starting a food truck company or reselling. A school bus that has been converted for use as an RV is known as a “Skoolie”.

The idea has a sizable and devoted community behind it, but before you join or take any further action, you need to have the answer to these questions: How much does a used school bus cost? What should I know before buying one? We’ve got everything covered in this post.

Types of School Buses 

The price of a secondhand school bus is affected by several variables, including size, age, and condition. It’s also critical to consider the bus’ type. differing bus types have differing weight ratings and lengths that range from 20 to 45 feet.

Buses come in three primary varieties, plus the D-type ones, which have gained favor recently.

Type A

This kind has seating for 10 to 30 people. The bus body features a left-side driver’s door and is constructed on a van or cutaway truck chassis. Within this category, Type A-1 has a GVWR of up to 10,000 pounds and is further divided into two subcategories. A Type A-2 is another option, with a GVWR of more than 9,999 pounds.

Type B

The front-section vehicle chassis, also known as a stripped chassis, with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds and intended for carrying more than 10 people makes up the Type B school bus. A bus body is built and mounted on it. A portion of the engine is located next to the driver’s seat and sometimes behind or beneath the windshield. Next, the front door is positioned behind the front wheels. Although they are less common nowadays, they nonetheless meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and are created to meet the needs of a particular school district.

Type C

Many people picture the Type C school bus when they think of a “traditional” school bus. The body, which is frequently referred to as a “conventional” bus, is mounted on a flat-back cowl chassis with a vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds and is intended to transport more than ten people. The entryway is behind the front tires, and the entire engine is in front of the windshield. Although historically speaking, they weren’t the very first school buses, these have come to represent contemporary student transportation.

Type D

The Type D school bus, also known as a “transit-style” bus, has a body attached to a chassis and an engine mounted either in the front, middle, or back. It is intended to accommodate more than ten passengers and has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds. The engine may be located in the back of the bus, behind the rear wheels (rear-engine, or “RE”), or it may frequently be behind the windshield and next to the driver’s seat (forward-engine, or “FE”). The front tires are in front of the entrance door.

How Much Are Used School Buses?

The majority of used school buses for sale cost less than $5,000, and $1,500 is thought to be a terrific deal. Most of these buses are either retired or at least ten years old. Buses typically cost between $2,000 and $6,000. However, their price may be negotiable depending on their condition. They can be for sale on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and more.

As far as city transit is concerned, a bus career typically lasts 12 to 15 years due to warranty expiration. They’re still being used, though; people who want to join the tiny home lifestyle are buying them and converting them into houses or campers. 

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Annual Costs

The School Superintendents Association (AASA) estimates owning a bus can cost between $34,000 and $38,000 per year. Costs for diesel fuel, upkeep, and insurance are included in that sum. 

Every day, school buses operate for three to four hours. You can reduce your fuel expenses if you intend to drive less than that. 

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How Much Does It Cost to Make Your Used Bus A Tiny Home or Skoolie?

Conversion entails some expenses. You will be required to pay for the supplies and potentially the labor if you intend to use the bus for any purpose other than school transport.

Building supplies like flooring, wall panels, and roof tiles will be among your expenses. Along with appliances, there are furniture items, including mattresses, chairs, and cabinets.

The price of the conversion is directly influenced by what you plan to do with the old-school bus. However, estimates that between $20,000 and $40,000 will be needed to convert a secondhand school bus into a habitable residence.

What to Do Before Buying A Used School Bus

Understand What Will Work for You

Being aware of buses and knowing what you want can help you find the ideal bus for sale for a school bus conversion.

Unfortunately, the market for school buses differs from that for automobiles. In particular, for those who want to do a school bus conversion, it’s not a solid direct-to-consumer market (yet), so they don’t have clear-cut marketing or a decent knowledge base of material that you can comb through and select the correct bus.

Get A Mechanic to Check It

If you’re unfamiliar with how a bus should behave, how its engine should sound, and how its parts should seem. Bring over a person who does when you are interested in a used bus. There are examples out there that demonstrate how ignorance can have a significant negative impact on your pricing and upcoming maintenance.


The last thing you should know is more about the procedure for buying a bus for yourself and converting it into a tiny house on wheels now that you have your patience under control and some understanding about what school bus to buy for a school bus conversion.

If you are not bothering individuals with too many inquiries, you are not doing a good job of purchasing a school bus for sale.

Most used bus sales on the internet lack images of the underbody/chassis, the oil pan, or any other areas you might want to examine to check for rust, oil leaks, etc.

Inquire About All Maintenance Records 

Ask for inquiries if there are no records to check on. If you ever feel uneasy when dealing with the seller or someone who doesn’t know much about the bus, get the VIN and check if it’s possible to conduct independent research.

Make A Complete Inspection

You’ll have to keep irritating your dealer by thoroughly inspecting the bus if you haven’t already done so.

However, they will allow you to do any inspection you need if they are confident about the quality of the bus they are selling.

Don’t Pay More Than You Should

It can be tempting to buy a school bus right away when you’re scared that you could miss an opportunity, but this is not a good idea.

There will always be another bus because there are enough of them, and they retire from the school system after 15–20 years. You’ll also discover that someone has started a project but was unable to finish it; this could be a terrific opportunity for you. Try to avoid being conned by an opportunistic vendor, and always negotiate. Your bus will arrive. 

Requirements for Off-Grid Skoolies

When you plan on making a Skoolie conversion, you need to have your sources of heating and cooling, water, energy, and food storage. You can construct a room and incorporate all the amenities necessary to keep you off the grid for a few weeks by choosing from alternatives that you can include in your build.

  • Install a water tank. Some people put their water tanks beneath their beds or under the bus. A typical motorhome tank holds 20 to 100 gallons. The choice is yours, as is the size of the tank
  • You can obtain electricity for your bus using a few well-liked techniques: Solar panels and batteries for power storage, a gasoline-powered generator, or a battery and converter system.
  • For heating, a wood-burning stove is likely the most common option to heat your school bus. You can even gather your wood. Other options include radiant floor heating, ducted heating, or a diesel heater.

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Does Operating A School Bus Require A CDL?

No, a CDL is not required in the majority of states for private school bus driving. You won’t need one to operate a school bus, especially if you have a full Skoolie that has been licensed and insured as a motorhome.

What Is The Mileage Limit for School Buses?

It depends on the surroundings and circumstances in which the school bus is operated. A school bus should typically last between 250,000 and 500,000 kilometers with proper maintenance. A bus’s engine won’t need a significant overhaul or repair until it has traveled between 250,000 and 350,000 miles, perhaps even longer. Some engines will require significant repairs more frequently than others.

Yes, residing on a school bus is quite legal. Living in an RV that was purchased or a vehicle that had been modified is equivalent. Living on a bus is acceptable as long as it is duly registered and insured.

The Wrap-Up

The bus purchasing process is exciting and demanding. As usual, you should continue to be financially prepared. Knowing that an off-grid residence is possible demonstrates your independence. This way of life can open several opportunities for travel to secluded, quiet locations with breathtaking vistas. 

We wish you continued success in your endeavors. Live your life to your standards while having fun.

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