A few years back, I got tired of living the American Dream and struggling to keep up with a horrendous mortgage and rising credit card debt. I know there's really only two ways to balance a budget, spend less or earn more, and I didn't see a huge wage increase in the future. Also, I have always been interested in unusual homes and can't pass a two or three hundred square foot enclosure without wondering what interesting living space could be made there. Less space, less stuff, less consumed, less owed. It sounded like where I wanted to be.
Then, I got a call from a buddy that purchased a pair of used school buses from the Texas A&M surplus property auction. He knew I had been interested in one and was willing to hold on to it until I could head out to pick it up. I got myself to College Station, spent a few days changing fluids, ripping out the seats and doing general preventative maintenance. Then, for about $1400 for the bus and another $600 in diesel (probably twice that, now), I headed back to Florida with the beast. Two years later, I've got a fully functional, comfortable, clean living space for about $12,000 and my monthly housing and utility costs are less than $400/month.
While my expenses have been drastically reduced and I am finally moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle, this probably isn't for everyone. For a single guy that wants to do something about waste and consumption, however, I can't think of a better place. Maybe something like this won't get you to move into a bus, but if it gets you to think about alternatives, then I'm glad I could share.
Finally, I could not have taken on this project without the awesome help from the community at http://www.skoolie.net. The admin and members of that site have proven time and time again to be the 'go to' source for information on the topic and some really supportive individuals to boot.
In this instructable, I'll discuss getting the bus, getting it legal on the road, and getting it ready to start interior construction. This won't be able to answer every single question, but it should give you a good road map for the process and get you in the right direction.