You Won't Believe How 3 People & 2 Pets Live In This Strange Setup

Photo: Courtesy of Living In A Shoebox.
By Assia

Back in 2009, Katherine and her husband Steve were paying a high rent to live in a popular outdoor recreation area while working with a wilderness youth program. They daydreamed about owning a yurt, but couldn't afford property at the time, so when they saw a converted school bus for sale on Craigslist for about $7,000, they jumped at the opportunity. Some friends living in the Washington Cascades let them park the bus on their property, so after installing a composting toilet, they moved in with their West Highland terrier, Ike.

The young couple lived in the bus for two years when Katherine took a job at a retreat center that offered them a small house as part of her compensation. The pair decided to keep the bus, however, and in September 2013, they moved back in. But this time, the brought with them a newly acquired cat, Mish. Today, the household has grown even larger, with a baby girl joining the happy family. It may seem a bit tight in the school bus, but not according to Katherine:
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Photo: Courtesy of Living In A Shoebox.
“Everyday life in the bus isn’t much different from life anywhere else. In the morning, I always put up our futon, which immediately helps the bus feel bigger and tidier. Clutter builds up really fast. Sometimes, I just have to get out to avoid compulsively straightening up. I spend more time in the bus than I did before we had our little girl. For a bit of the day, she crawls around and plays with toys while I do dishes or work at the computer. It’s actually really nice because we just put up one gate across the front of the bus and installed a latch on the bathroom door so we can set her loose. I get her outside for a walk or to play in the grass every day. In the winter, I took her cross-country skiing in a front carrier.”

Are there any challenges living with an 8-month-old baby in a converted school bus?

“I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers, but with a composting toilet, we can’t really have a diaper sprayer. This led me to practice elimination communication with her. Basically, I watch her natural timing and signals and take her to the potty. Amazingly, she is happy to go in it. I also use liners in the cloth diapers for any 'misses.' We use our neighbor’s washer, so it works out. Also, we have to fit a third person’s belongings in the bus, which makes things tighter.”

Over the years, the couple has made some improvements on the bus.
Photo: Courtesy of Living In A Shoebox.
“We’ve added the composting toilet, an efficient wood stove, a refrigerator, a 5-gallon hot water heater, a shower, a built-in table and bench, and live edge trim and shelving. We have spent $4,000 or so on this. The composting toilet and stove were expensive.”

Katherine’s husband, Steve, built a beautiful set of shelves so the family would have more room to store the food that Katherine dries both in their solar dehydrator and on the roof.

The bus is a 1978 International and spans 30 feet. The family’s hosts love to garden and let them dig in right next to the bus, where Katherine grow peas, lettuce, kale, other hearty greens, and fruits.
Photo: Courtesy of Living In A Shoebox.
Mish, the cat and Ike, the dog, get along, although they are in a constant rivalry for the coziest sleeping nooks.

What’s the best part of living in a bus?

“Four years of freedom from rent. We are now building a small house on our own land. It’s great to have a place to live while we build.”

And the worst part?

“Emptying the composting toilet.”

What’s your advice to anyone who’s considering moving into a bus?

“Get a composting toilet with a urine separator and treat anyone who lets you park on their property really, really well.”
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