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Couple spent $30,000 to turn a school bus into a tiny home

In 2021, Tanya Nestoruk, 31, and Arya Touserkani, 38, were living in a four-bedroom house in Canada when they decided to sell it and move into a van.

“I love the simplicity and versatility of being able to live and travel wherever you want, have minimal impact, and explore new places,” Nestoruk tells CNBC Make It.

Nestoruk, an environmental educator, and Touserkani, a photographer, lived in the van for several months when they realized they wanted something bigger. They decided on a school bus.

“We wanted to do something more adventurous and we thought the school bus would be a fun way to give a second life to a retired vehicle,” Nestoruk says.

Nestoruk and Touserkani bought the school bus on Facebook Marketplace.

Tanya Nestoruk and Arya Touserkani

Nestoruk found the retired school bus on Facebook Marketplace. The seller was a school bus contractor, which the couple says was a blessing in disguise because it meant the bus would have up-to-date- maintenance records and be relatively well taken care of.

“Someone drove it on its last school run and then we took it home right then and there,” she says.

The couple bought the school bus for $7,200, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

The two agreed they wanted to renovate within six months of their big purchase. During the renovation, Nestoruk and Touserkani tried to recycle everything they could from the bus, including donating the seats to a local kids camp and selling the luggage racks to someone who was going to repurpose them for their garage.

The couple spent about six months renovating the bus.

Tanya Nestoruk and Arya Touserkani

The couple wanted to renovate the school bus outdoors, but the Canadian weather had other ideas. They rented a workshop where they could consistently work on the bus.

Because they wanted to DIY the renovation, Touserkani tells CNBC Make It the two spent their days building and their nights googling and watching YouTube videos on how to do stuff for the next day.

“It was nonstop and we worked on it as much as we could,” he says. “I got so obsessed with everything that needed to be done with that bus.”

The couple have driven the bus from Canada to Mexico and back several times.

Tanya Nestoruk and Arya Touserkani

“It was a challenge because we weren’t able to disconnect because we had to plan for the next steps while trying to do the current steps,” he added.

The couple needed to stick to their six-month timeline because they wanted to escape the Canadian winter and travel to Baja California, Mexico.

“We were following the warm weather as snowbirds in training,” Nestoruk says, laughing.

The couple spent roughly $30,000 and one year turning the school bus into their home. The bus has a bedroom with a king-sized bed, a living room with a custom pullout couch, a kitchen with a three-burner stovetop and oven, and a bathroom. They also found an RV washer and dryer on Facebook Marketplace.

There is hidden storage for food, an on-demand hot water heater, the couple’s belongings, and much more.

Nestoruk and Touserkani say the thing people love most about their school bus are the two skylights they installed — Touserkani is 6’1” and wouldn’t be able to stand up straight on the bus without them.

“They provide so much natural light, and it really makes the space special for us,” he says.

Nestoruk adds that the skylights were also a cost-effective way for them to raise the roof in key areas without having to do the entire thing.

The school bus has solar panels so the couple can be completely off the grid.

Almost everything on the bus has a hidden storage feature.

Tanya Nestoruk and Arya Touserkani

Nestoruk and Touserkani built stairs that lead up to the roof and had a friend weld a rear hitch deck that holds their motorcycles, which they use as their everyday transportation. There’s also a table on the outside of the bus that they use for barbecues and whenever they have guests.

The two say they don’t think renovations on the bus will ever really be finished, but they did stop work on it in November 2022 to head down to Mexico.

“We found there was a certain type of energy that the bus attracted and it was just fun,” Touserkani says. “Everyone always had a strong connection to it. It’s been a lot of fun interacting with people who are attracted to the bus.”

The couple built the bedroom area to fit a king-size bed.

Tanya Nestoruk and Arya Touserkani

The couple has been living on and off the school bus for over a year now and says that like with every living situation, there are pros and cons.

“You have to be proactive in your everyday chores which is good and bad. There’s a freedom with that too, which is great, and we love, and then just the reality of it is that sometimes it can require more work,” Nestoruk says.

“If you’re signing up for living in any sort of a vehicle, there is always going to be some level of maintenance work that needs to happen. It’s not as carefree as living in a house,” Touserkani says.

The biggest concern for the couple is being environmentally conscious while on the road.

“We want to have as minimal impact as possible,” Nestoruk says. “We want to promote environmentally friendly living to others, too.”

The bathroom in the school bus has a full shower and skylight.

Tanya Nestoruk and Arya Touserkani

The couple is currently on a break from life on their school bus and plans to eventually sell it and explore other tiny living options. They also want to build their dream home on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

“We’re hoping to enjoy the bus as long as we can and we hope that the next owners will take it on new adventures,” Nestoruk says. “It has lots of life left.”

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