The Big Scoop on Living Small

If you follow our blog, you may have noticed that two months have passed since we last posted anything. This delay was deliberate in that it’s also exactly how long we’ve been staying in our school bus home to-date. It felt appropriate to let some time pass before writing anything new – the seeds of reflection needed time to germinate, so to speak.

Well folks, here are my thoughts on what it’s like to live on the bus.

So far, the transition from our previous set-up has been pretty smooth (thanks in large part to Ryan’s family enabling us to have a soft-landing at their property). We weren’t exactly living large in terms of square footage before moving onto the bus, however the shift to a ~200 sq ft space was certainly accompanied by a few quirks here and there.

What’s changed:

We’ve both left our 9-5’s:

While I left my full-time job back in July in order to focus on finishing the school bus conversion and to explore other paths, Ryan didn’t leave his full-time job until February of 2016.The past two months have been a nice change in that he’s finally been able to join me in unwinding for a bit.

We spend our free time differently:

If I’m being really honest, I think the biggest lifestyle change stems from cancelling our Netflix subscription and buying a new, limited data plan. We’re no longer wasting hours every night watching movies or binge-watching t.v. shows online. Instead if we want to relax in the evenings, we read books, visit with family, work on personal projects, or play board games. If we want to spend time watching something online, it’s more intentional as we have to keep track of how many gigs it’ll use out of our monthly data plan. While this has its benefits – I’ve read 5 books in the past two months! – my one complaint is that I can no longer listen to all of the numerous podcasts that I used to enjoy with reckless abandon. (Don’t worry, I haven’t given up This American Life, yet.)

It’s making us neater:

When living small, mess becomes amplified. We simply don’t have the luxury of skipping regular chores anymore without the consequence impacting our perception of our home. When the bus is neat, it feels easy to occupy. But skip the chores and neglect to pick up after yourself for one day, and HOLY  MOLY  does it feel different in here! Our bus can suddenly transform from a comfortable, fresh-seeming space into one that brings to mind Jennifer Connolly waking up to Junk City in Labyrinth.


How did it get so bad, Junk Lady? How?!

Little things that we used to be able to get by without doing every day – taking out the trash, sweeping the floors, making the bed, etc. – now matter a lot.

We don’t waste food:

Anyone who has gone out to eat with Ryan, will probably laugh at the notion of him wasting any food at all. (I’ve had to talk him out of actually licking the plate at a restaurant once or twice.) But the reality is that our mini-fridge simply doesn’t permit us to waste any fresh food. Prior to moving onto the bus, I’d fill our full-size fridge with fresh vegetables and good intentions of preparing complex meals. These intentions would inevitably be trampled by a combination of full-time work schedules (being just too darn tired to cook) and an “out of sight-out of mind” mentality, resulting in a good portion of our produce spoiling and going to waste. Similarly, left-overs could take up space in our full-size fridge for weeks before we remembered their existence. Our limited fridge size now prevents us from repeating this pattern and forces us to not only cook more, but to use everything we buy.

What’s stayed the same:

A lot:

Many things about our daily lives haven’t changed at all. We still keep much the same routines as before, prepare the same meals, and are still able to enjoy the same hobbies and recreational activities. We still ride our bikes, listen to music, sew, program, cook, read, etc. – just with a different backdrop.


Our pets have adapted really well to the change. Their daily routines have shifted slightly in that our cats no longer prowl around at night (too many coyotes in the country) and our dog has had to get used to not sleeping in our bed. Other than that, pet life is unaltered. They  still spend most of their days lounging and shedding everywhere. (Side note: if you plan to live in a small space with your furry pet, keep a lint brush handy.)

What will change:

We’re getting ever closer to finally embarking on our intended road trip. (There always seems to be just one more thing to finish!) Now that we’ve adapted to living in our school bus home, we’ll need to figure out how to take the show on the road. Expect me to touch on more travel-focused topics in future posts (e.g. “How to walk your cat at a truck stop”, “How to find health insurance with national coverage”, etc.).


BLOG READERS: Do you have a question for us? Post it in the comments section below.


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11 thoughts on “The Big Scoop on Living Small

  1. Justine says:

    The month of March was really rainy so I had lots of down time to fill and tore through Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, Redshirts by John Scalzi, and The Golden Compass trilogy by Phillip Pullman. I’d recommend any of them!


  2. Anne says:

    Many cheers for podcasts!
    Looking forward to more updates.
    Interesting how nicely the small refrigerator forced a solution to the food waste problem!
    Wondering the logistics of finding places to stay as you move about the country… and if you will feel like you are just fitting right in with the RV world.


    • Justine says:

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for reading the blog! We use a number of online resources to find places to stay as we travel:,,, There are plenty more sites out there designed to help travelers (in all types of vehicles!) find places to stay and we feel like we’ve just discovered a few of them. We’ve also been known to resort to a good-old fashioned atlas from time to time when going without cell-coverage. We typically opt for public lands (BLM, state parks, national forests, national parks, etc.) over private RV parks as the former tend to provide more hiking & outdoor opportunities. The RV world seems to accommodate all sorts of folks and so far we’ve had good experiences meeting fellow travelers.




    • Justine says:

      Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for reading our blog! This is a question that we’re still finding the answer to as we’ve been on the road for less than a year. I plan on dedicating some space on our blog to addressing this topic more fully, but in the meantime, the short answer for us has been: more than we thought, but, so far, manageable.




  3. Cassie says:

    Hi there, I’m curious where you stash your kitties’ litter box?? Thanks, love the blog and your storytelling is great 🙂


    • Justine says:

      Hi Cassie,

      Thanks for reading our blog – glad you’re enjoying our tales from the road! We built out a covered nook next our couch to house the litter box.



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