A Little Bit About Who We Are:
We're Devin and Breanna O'Dell and, along with our cat, Tillo, we live full-time in a 2001 Bluebird school bus. Our goal is to disregard social norms and try to find meaning through simple and intentional living. I just finished my degree in Information Technology and Breanna is an Radiologic Technologist (RT) who works in x-ray and Computed Tomography, (CT) at a local hospital. We’re currently station at a campground just outside of Champaign, IL, but we plan to hit the road in November in search of adventure and warmer weather. My wife will officially begin work as a traveling RT/CT which will give us an amazing opportunity to travel almost anywhere in the US.
Why We Went Tiny:
Our decision to go tiny was a culmination of several things. We never really like the idea of living “the American dream” where we would go into massive amounts of debt to own things that served as more of a status symbol than to offer any real substance. The idea that you would work away the one life that we have to keep up with the Jones just didn’t sit right with us. We we’re determined to own our home and pay cash for it along the way, so a tiny home made so much sense for us.
At first we wanted to build a shipping container home, and we still do, but we just didn’t know where to build it. The skoolie build was perfect to bridge the gap and now we plan to start traveling to find a place where we will eventually build.
What We Like About It:
The absolute best part about it is that we own our home. Tiny homes usually cost a fraction of what a “normal” house would cost. No house payments open up so many other opportunities for us. That money can be put back for adventures, or it can allow us to work less and reclaim our time.
An unknown biproduct of going tiny is that it forces you to be more intentional with what you bring into your life. We’re now minimalist (mostly) and that just kind of happens when you live in a 300 sq ft bus. We only have room to bring in things that add value to our lives, and we quickly figure out the things that are just taking up space and collecting dust. Oh, and its also pretty amazing that we can take our home with us wherever we go.
Bus Model: 2001 Bluebird tc3000
Dimensions: 39ft by 8ft
Square footage: Roughly 300 sq ft
Year Built: Finished in 2018
Location: Champaign, IL
The Basically Nomads bus features a bedroom with a queen size bed, a bunk area for guests, and a fully tiled shower area with a slight roof raise. Other key features are a high end gaming PC desk space and double couches that transform into a large bed for even more guests! We also have the ability to go completely off grid with a 740 watts of solar and a 100 gallon water tank. Full sized amenities in 300 sq ft!
Devin: My favorite feature is probably my desk area. It may seem like a bit of an oxymoron on the surface, but I’m a huge gamer. It’s how I keep in touch with a lot of my friends back home. So, it was really important for me to find a way to incorporate my gaming computer as well as a high-quality monitor for gaming. It also doubles as a great living area TV and a powerful editing station for photos or videos. The desk can fold completely against the wall when we want more space and the monitor is on an extending swivel that allows us to move it around as needed!
Breanna: We absolutely love having friends and family in the bus so it was a must to include space for guests. That’s why my favorite part of our build is the ample amount of sleeping space. We have a Queen size bed in the back, as well as a set of bunk beds in the middle of the bus. Lastly, if we have more people on board, we can turn the couch into a bed that can sleep up to 3 people!
$24k all in. This price included the bus. We did absolutely everything we could DIY to keep the cost low, but we usually opted for high quality materials when we could.
This build took a LONG time. Just under 2 years. This is for a couple of good reasons though. When we decided to just go all in on tiny I was working over 60 hours a week and going to school full time. The first year of our build I was only able to work on the bus 1 day a week. In the end this was actually a great thing. Because the build took so long we were able to save up and pay cash for everything as we went and I would recommend this to anyone that wants to go tiny and be debt free. The length of the build can add quite a bit of stress though, since we moved out of our apartment before the build was done and my wife stayed with friends for a month while I finished the plumbing and AC!
Advice for people wanting to go tiny:
Just pull the trigger. We constantly have people telling us that the wish the could do this. And my question is always, what’s stopping you? They never really know. The truth is that it’s a little scary to do anything outside the normal, but its very often one of the most rewarding things you can do. So, the best advice we could give is to overtake your fears. What’s the worst that could happen? One other tip would be not to accrue new debt while going tiny. It’s absolutely possible to go tiny with little to no debt. It may just take a little bit longer and thanks ok!
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