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In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial women. Today, 30-year-old Jessie Lipskin takes us inside her 1966 greyhound bus-turned-home in New Jersey.
As a born-and-raised Manhattanite, 30-year-old Jessie Lipskin is accustomed to minimalist living. "The best tip I've ever learned was to get rid of as much as you can, and only holding onto items that have significance," Lipskin says. "If you hold on to a lot of stuff, you'll always need to create more space."
Important words to live by if you decide to eschew traditional apartment living and move into a bus, as Lipskin did. Almost four years ago, the consultant ran across a 1966 Greyhound bus on eBay, selling for roughly $7,000. "I thought it was so cool looking, and I just fell in love with it," she says.
This wasn't an impulse buy though; Lipskin had been considering moving into a tiny home for quite some time. "I wanted to have something where I could live sustainably, enjoy being outside more, and not have to worry about paying property taxes or a mortgage or any of those things," she says. After watching the documentary Garbage Warrior about architect Michael Reynolds, Lipskin started looking into tiny houses, RVs, and bus conversions. Three years later — and $118,000 into renovations — and Lipskin has a dreamy, airy home-on-wheels. Read ahead to learn more about the process.
Tell me about the renovation process. Was it what you expected?
It took three years so longer than I expected. The engine needed work, the brakes needed work, and most of the people I worked with had never worked with a bus before. You know, you don't want anything to crack or break when it moves. So there was a lot of brainstorming and problem solving, and financially it definitely cost a lot more than I expected.
How much total did you expect to spend?
I thought it was going to cost maybe $40,000, max. But I don't know, maybe it was my lack of experience, or that other people had no clue either. One of the larger purchases was working with a master carpenter, because the hardest issue was that the bus wasn't level — anywhere you park, it's going to be at a different angle. So working with draining was interesting.
What's the hardest part about living in a bus?
Finding a place to park was a challenge. If you live in a RV parking lot, you're not really outside amongst nature. So I posted a Craigslist ad and asked all my friends, and in the end I was able to rent a space on a property that is right next to the woods, and I pay him $100 a month to park there. Figuring out the bathroom situation has also been a challenge. I never had a compostable toilet before, and using it was fine, but not having my own property to compost makes it difficult.
Can you talk a little bit about the plumbing and AC?
I have a central air system through the roof, and a thermostat for that. Then I have a fresh water tank underneath the bed that holds 40 gallons of water, and that runs my shower and my sink and all that. And the water tank has an outlet on the outside that you fill up.
Would you say this is your favorite home so far?
I think so. It's the first space that's completely mine — everything from the design to the layout to the curtains, photographs, I was able to design and create myself. You know even in an apartment, you don't get to choose where the walls go unless you renovate the entire space. So this place gave me the freedom to create.
I have the opportunity to travel internationally in September, and I don't know when my return date is. So I want to be free for that experience, maybe even stay there, and then maybe downsize to an Airstream or something so it's easier to bring my home into the city. It would be nice to travel in the vehicle I live in, and park covertly.
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