A family of five are living in an old school bus because they were fed up of paying an extortionate amount of money on rent each month. The converted bus is equipped with a full-size bed, a kitchen, a composting toilet and bath tub.
Brian and Starla Sullivan are a married couple with three young children, and in 2014 the Sullivans were living in a rented apartment in Renton, Washington. But three years on, their circumstances have changed quite dramatically.
The couple weren’t completely happy with their living situation back in 2014. In fact, they were growing more and more frustrated with the amount of money they were forking out for their rent. As 26-year-old Starla told the Daily Mail in February 2017, the couple were paying around $1,500 in rent every month.
But that wasn’t all that bothered them. The Sullivans were also generally unhappy that they weren’t able to own a home of their own. Furthermore, Brian, a 29-year-old aerospace assembly mechanic, had to travel an hour to work every day.
Meanwhile, the family didn’t feel a part of their neighborhood community. Clearly, it was time for the Sullivans to change something about their living arrangements. Their next move was not only brave, but very clever indeed.
It all started when the couple sat down to watch some YouTube videos about people who lived in unusual homes. They learnt about some people who lived in a bus. And it sparked an idea.
“We just kind of looked at each other and were like ‘do you want to live in a bus with me?’” Starla told the Daily Mail. Initially, Brian didn’t think his wife was serious. But it turned out she was very serious indeed.
So they actually did it. First, the Sullivans paid $2,800 for a bus. But it wasn’t just any bus – it was a school bus. It needed some renovation, but they had finally managed to purchase a home for their growing family.
They named their new bus “Big Bertha” and got started on doing it up. In fact, it took another $30,000 to get the vehicle up to the standard they wanted. But just under a year after buying the bus, the Sullivans moved in with their three-year old, 18-month-old and newborn baby.
The couple grafted hard for that year, with neither of them having had much experience in house renovations. “We laughed, we yelled, we spent our first year of marriage building our dream home together with our bare hands… And we are still married,” Starla would later joke.
The hard work paid off. Indeed, the bus now has literally everything the family needs. Their kitchen has enough space to fit an oven, a microwave, a sink, a washing machine and chopping surfaces. There’s even a little fireplace to keep the family warm in the winter.
In a YouTube video about the Sullivans’ unconventional living situation, the couple expressed the importance of having a bath on board. So they made sure to install one big enough for all the kids.
They also made sure to fit the school bus with a clever sofa which pulls out into a full-sized bed. It’s valuable extra space. Although the Sullivans’ sons – Charlie, Henry and Lincoln – are all under the age of three, they’re growing up fast.
The Sullivans are now paying just $500 a month to live on the school bus, far less than what they used to pay. “We now have money to eat the food that we want and go to the places we want,” Starla said in the YouTube video.
“We pay a third of the cost now and we have money to pay off debts and student loans!” Starla added. Of course, many people would be envious of this financial situation. But it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Sullivans.
Indeed, they’ve had their fair share of plumbing problems, which have sometimes left them with no water. Furthermore, there have been times when they’ve lost electricity or faced cold nights due to propane reserves running out.
“Whenever any of those things happen, I’m just grateful that they haven’t all happened at the same time,” joked Starla. It certainly seems that the Sullivans are more than able to maintain a positive attitude when things go wrong with their mobile home.
But do the parents see their new home as a long-term solution? Absolutely, they insist. Starla believes it will be possible to raise her three sons in the school bus. They might be short on space but she says that the full-length mattresses will allow them to “grow into it.”
The Sullivans certainly don’t seem in any rush to move back into a conventional apartment or house. Indeed, they have said that if they were to move out of the school bus they would go somewhere “equally ridiculous.” In fact, Starla even said they’d like to built a house out of mud one day…
It’s easy to see why the Starla and Brian aren’t keen to give up their new style of living. They’re paying significantly less rent. And if Brian gets a different job, it’s not a problem at all. The family, along with their home, can move closer to it!
Starla refers to her and her husband “ridiculous people.” Whether they are ridiculous people or not, they are certainly brave and unconventional.
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