I've been dreaming of tiny living/ simple living/ minimalist living/ bus life lately, so much so that instead of movies, my daughter and I watch Youtube videos of people who are actually living these lifestyles. We dream of how we would design our own bus to live on and compile our favourite hacks for tiny living.
Two winters ago, I took my daughter to Canada where we met another mum, Kylie, and her little boy, Beau, in a park. As I got chatting with her, it came up in our conversation that she and her family of five were living in a renovated bus in Whistler and also had a bus in a small beach town in northern NSW back in Australia.
I decided that interviewing her about their life on a bus could be a fun and revealing look at someone who actually took the plunge and is making this lifestyle work for them.....
Alethea: In a nutshell, can you describe who you and your family are and the unique living situation you have?
Kylie: We're an Aussie family of 5. 3 boys aged 11, 8 & almost 5 years old. Currently living in a small beach town in NSW in our converted school bus. We've spent the past 6 years living year on/off between here and Whistler, Canada. We didn't set out to do this, but we went there once (Whistler), fell in love with it and have spent all our time since daydreaming/plotting and planning how and when we can get back!
Alethea: When you initially told me about the buses I think my brain exploded 'cause I had heard of people doing the bus conversions but never had actually met someone who had done it. Who’s concept was it? Yours or your hubbies or was it a joint decision??
Kylie: It was actually one of those "imagine if we did that" type ideas, where neither of us had really thought about it seriously, but then it sort of took on a life of its own! Kind of like "why not?" The day we got the bus and it was parked out the front of our house we were both just like "ummm okay, now we have a bus.." Our Whistler version actually was more strategic and came about because we had no accommodation and wanted to stay longer.
Alethea: Which version came first - the Aus one or the Whistler one?
Kylie: Our Aussie one.
Alethea: And your hubby is a builder so he must've had some ideas on where to start with the conversions?
Kylie: Yeah he/we did everything ourselves. We started from scratch with pulling the seats out. Both were retired school buses. Both were designed differently, as we were living in our Whistler one over the winter. Our Aussie one is much more comfortable.
Alethea: Other than not dying from hypothermia during the Whistler winters, did you have any concerns with how you would all go living in the buses?
Kylie: So far it's been very easy. The boys love it and see it as a real adventure.It was definitely much harder in the snow. Our bus was smaller and we had more hiccups having to factor the extreme weather into everything (cue frozen pipes 🙄) It's very cruisey in our Aussie one!
Alethea: I love that the boys were so into it! What did your family and friends think when you guys told them of what you were planning to do with the bus living?
Kylie: I'd say it's about 95% of people in general think it's awesome and are really excited about it. Definitely more people thought be were CRAZY for doing in Whistler. But then they all knew how much we wanted to stay and we are definitely doers! We definitely have moments where we are all in each other's face a little too much. But again, being where we are, we are outside as much as in. The boys also go to school (no homeschool here) So we're not all here ALL the time. They were excited too!
Alethea: How has the bus living affected your parenting style?
Kylie: Hmm I wonder about it.. Somedays I think it's such a great thing. To live outside of the box and have this easy and a lot of the time unpredictable sort of lifestyle. Other days I wonder how they will look back on it..?
Sometimes I'm just like "everyone needs their own rooms, and space, and a trampoline and normality" I do wonder how my itchy feet and will affect them in the long run, whether they will crave stability or whether they will go on to have an adventurous spirit. I'm a restless person by nature. And I don't feel like this will be forever, but then I also don't know, and I like being open to ideas. And as mum I feel like I have mum guilt about pretty much everything anyway! So I can only hope it's a positive thing! I definitely have days where I feel stressed about it! But mostly I love it.
Alethea: Were there any difficult moments that you really felt helped you grow not only as a mother, but also as a family?
Kylie: I think the decision in the beginning to just do it! Despite wondering what other people think (my constant mantra is "it's okay to live a life other people don't understand) With our travelling back and forth to Canada and being in the bus, it's really proven to me (and many others) that things are possible, despite what we consider to be "hard". Like having kids, or little money, that usually holds people back. ...many days I do wonder what in the hell are we doing!
Alethea: Hahaha! I wonder what the hell I am doing most days! Do you have a great memory you could share that you is kind of burned in your mind about this journey so far?
Kylie: I think overall, spending the winter in our bus in Whistler. Mostly because the idea of it still seems surreal even to me! I know we will still be talking about that when we're old!
Alethea: Did you give names to the buses??
Kylie: Haha no! We could never think of anything cool enough!
Alethea: Are there any features in the buses that you love and/or are super proud of (that you created)?
Kylie: All of it actually haha! They really were both set up to feel more like a home than a camper. So everything is our own taste, like it would be in a house. Rugs, furniture etc.
in our Whistler one we sourced all of the furniture from op shops and garage sales.
In our Aussie one, we built everything in from scratch, like the bunks etc. so they're different but still very "us". The boys love they're bunks because they're their own private little nooks.
Alethea: Do you have a great memory you could share that is kind of burned in your mind about the journey?
Kylie: The boys just got home from school so I've asked them...They say "building them" (probs my worst memories haha! So there you go) Also, in Whistler we would build fires in our snowy fire pit and cook dinner outside, like roast meat & potatoes in foil, in the coals.
Alethea: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of doing something similar??
Kylie: Go for it..?! Haha!
Kylie: We have met "professional" camper types that always want to talk about amps & voltage and gas vs solar and and drop-down beds, and we just look at them with blank faces! We have no idea about most stuff, so I'm sure we could /should have done a few things differently, but we're kind of "wing it" people.
Alethea: You’re like the bus lifestyle Macguyvers! I know the types that are all into their gadgets and gear...🙄.it's the same in the 4WD world...hey thanks so much for sharing your journey with me and Wellbeing Collective's readers.
Kylie: No problem at all!