After months of searching Craigslist and calling bus companies, I finally bought a bus! I spent a lot of time searching Craigslist using SearchTempest which allows you to search all Craigslists at a time. I wasn't finding anything that appealed to me that I felt was coming from a trustworthy home where I could get a title and not have issues getting insurance and legal plates. I decided to turn to a dealership. I lucked out to find out there was one only 40 minutes from my parents house, which was perfect. I bought the bus from Don Brown Bus Sales in Johnstown, NY. It's about 30 minutes from Albany, NY. They sell buses all over the world. They keep their inventory very up to date and you can search it online.
At first, I thought I wanted a short bus (4 windows) but once I saw the half size, I knew that was my bus. A full size bus was just way too big for my needs. I bought an International Bluebird 2001. It's diesel, automatic with 130,000 miles on it, which I've been told isn't much on a diesel. It got a T444E engine. When I went to look at the bus initially, I paid a diesel mechanic to come with me. We looked under the bus and took a look at the engine. We looked at one other bus that had a Caterpillar engine and was much heavier duty with way bigger wheels. It was a standard and the wheel wells came into the bus. I chose the International because it was Automatic and the wheel wells don't come above the floor, which will make designing it way easier.
Finding a bus in your price range
The bus was originally posted at $7,000, but I called Don Brown's and asked them if they had any buses in my price range. My cap was $3,500. They showed me this bus and the final price was $3,100. I learned that if you see a bus you like but it is above your price range it is good to call and tell a bus company your price range and see what they show you!
Getting insurance proved to be a pain in the butt. I had advice from multiple skoolie owners on how to go about it. I read a lot online about people lying to insurance agents that the bus was an RV but I didn't feel comfortable doing that incase there was a serious issue on the drive from the dealership back to Ithaca, NY. I called about 15 different insurance companies, even ones that explicitly say online they can do it. When I called Progressive, they told me they could not cover me but if I called a local insurance agent that they might be able to help me get insured through Progressive. They suggested 3 agents in Itahca. I ended up getting insurance through True Insurance.
The DMV in Ithaca recommended that I just get an In-Transit permit so that I did not have to pay to have the bus registered while I was transporting it. When I called the DMV in Johnstown they said they could not do an in-transit permit for a bus moving within NY State even though I was holding an application for an in-transit permit that said that was a possibility. They recommended I call the DMV in the town over (Fonda, NY) and see if they could do it. They said yes, so after I paid for the bus and got my title, I headed to the DMV,
At the Fonda DMV they said it would be cheaper to register the bus for 2 years. Then, once I got to Ithaca and took it off the road, I could go to the Ithaca DMV and ask them to store my plates for the winter. I'm not sure they are going to do that for me. The other option is to have them destroy the plates and put the money for the registration as a credit towards when I decide to register the bus once it's converted. All in all, it was a lot of jumping through hoops. I knew that the purchase, insurance, registration process wouldn't be an easy one so I tried to get as much information before hand as possible. I called all the DMV's before going and insured I had all the correct paperwork and IDs to make the process as smooth as possible.
The Inaugural Journey
We're Karli & Craig. We decided to buy a bus and convert it into an RV. We'll be getting on the road in May of 2016! We'll be keeping a blog of the conversion so stay tuned!