A family of five are living in an old school bus because they were tired of wasting so much money on an apartment. In March 2014, Brian and Starla Sullivan were paying an extortionate amount of money on rent each month in an apartment that barely satisfied their standard of living. Struggling to afford the most basic necessities, Brian, 29, and Starla, 26, bought an old school bus for $2,800 and just a year- and $30,000 - later they were calling it home with their three children Charlie, 3, Henry, 2 and three-month-old Lincoln.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1. How many basin sinks are there on the converted bus?
2. How many children does the bathtub fit?
3. How much water does the toilet use?
4. How long would Brian's ride home take in the rush hour?
5. Where did the couple get the idea about tiny houses?
6. How much did the Sullivans spend transforming the bus?
7. How much do they spend living this way?
8. What are some of the problems they have had on the bus?
9. What are their plans for the future?
STARLA SULLIVAN: We’re ridiculous people and this is a ridiculous lifestyle and it just works.
Brian and Starla Sullivan have a rather unconventional family home.
BRIAN SULLIVAN: Hey! I’m Brian. I live in a converted school bus with my wife and three kids and I’m going to give you a tour. So come on in.
STARLA SULLIVAN: I wanted to feel like I was living in a tiny house and not a vehicle.
BRIAN SULLIVAN: So, right away is the living room.
STARLA SULLIVAN: Our sofas pull out into a full size bed. We have a fully functional kitchen, we have an oven and a microwave combination.
BRIAN SULLIVAN: Propane fireplace keeps us warm. A single basin sink.
STARLA SULLIVAN: One thing that I really wanted to have having children was a bathtub so, we have a bathtub that’s large enough to fit all the kids in. At least while they are this small.
BRIAN SULLIVAN: And then we have a full size washing machine. Composting toilet is simple; there is no plumbing involved, no water consumption or anything and it produces compost that you can use to fertilise non-edible plants.
Until two years ago, the family lived in much more ordinary surroundings.
STARLA SULLIVAN: We were living in an apartment about an hour away from Brain’s work and the commute was awful. He would work overtime just trying to pay the rent and then he would sit in the car for about three hours a day in rush hour and we would never see him. So we decided to make a change.
STARLA SULLIVAN: We were watching YouTube videos about tiny houses and there was this one in particular, we called them ‘the crazy people who lived in a blue bus’, and we just kind of looked at each other and went, “Do you want to live in a bus with me?”
BRIAN SULLIVAN: I thought she was joking at first, I was like, “Yeah, sure!” you know.
STARLA SULLIVAN: “No really, let’s live in a bus.”
BRIAN SULLIVAN: Yeah and she was serious. I started to realise all of these little things that were benefits that, you know, I hadn’t thought of before like being able to be mobile, being able to pick-up and move, if I got a different job and it was 20 miles away or something.
Buying the school bus from a local dealership in 2014, the couple spent $30,000 transforming it over the course of a year to their ideal home, that they say will save them a fortune in years to come.
STARLA SULLIVAN: So, living in the bus, we pay $500 a month for rent versus $1,500 a month that we would be having to pay for an apartment. So we pay about a third of the cost of living elsewhere. And as for utilities, also about a third of the cost. So we have money to pay off debts, student loans. We have money to eat the foods that we want, go to the places we want.
But it’s not all being a smooth ride for the family.
STARLA SULLIVAN: We have had frozen pipes, no running water, we have run out of propane in the middle of the night and had no heat, no hot water. We have lost electricity. Whenever any of those things happens, I’m just thankful that all three didn’t happen at the same time.
You’re gonna go get it? Okay.
Be careful for the camera, okay?
I know a lot of people say that it’s not possible for us to raise kids in this bus especially until they turn 18, but I disagree. We added our full length mattresses in the kids’ room, plus extra space in the bunks. They are gonna grow into it and have, have their own private space.
And the family has no plans to leave alternative housing behind them.
I think they like it.
If we do move out of the bus, it’s going to be something equally ridiculous.
Yeah. It’s going to be something else that’s unconventional.
We want to build a house out of mud and that is probably going to be our next step.
We’re ridiculous people. We are!
2 the three of them
3 no water at all
4 three hours
5 on YouTube
6 about $30,000
7 a third of what they used to spend before
8 frozen pipes, no running water, they have run out of propane, no hot water, no electricity
9 to build a mud house