Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Living in the Magic Bus

My father was a general contractor and I started helping him build houses when I was 12. Even today I can look at a house and see the entire skeleton - plumbing, wiring, everything.

I have never been impressed by modern houses. The way they are built was fine before 1973, when yearly income stopped going up. But today, anyone who buys a house had better make a lot of money. If you look at what a house really costs, over a 30-year mortgage...you will be shocked.

When I was 11 years old we lived in a two-story farmhouse with a huge front yard and several oak trees. The rent was $60 a month. This was in '68. It's since been torn down to make room for a suburb.

If I really wanted to, I could build a halfway-decent rural shack for $500.

These days, strawbale houses are pretty popular. That's a good thing, because compared to regular houses they are cheap.

I know some people who live in trailers, usually around lakes. They've extended them with cheap built-on additions. Their cost of living is minimal.

Others have bought old school buses - which can go for as little as $500 - and fixed them up (check at eBay for a varied selection). It's not a bad way to tour the country. (I used to drive a school bus in college for a year and a half.)

I do not understand anyone buying a house these days. The cost is astronomical. Let's say that my father built the family house in 1968 for $14,000 and he paid $149 a month for 30 years. Try that today.

The economy is not good and I do not believe it is going to get any better, contrary to the lies of the government. So you have to start making do on your own. Rural is not bad at all, but if you want to travel a bit, taking your house with you - like a turtle - is not such a bad idea.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

All across the plains there are old wooden boxcars in the fields that are no longer used for anything. Most were used as sheds at one time, but as I've pointed out to people a number of them had doors and windows installed. You do the math.

Black Poison Soul said...

It's actually a damned good idea, and something that I'm considering for myself.

Rusty Shackleford said...

If you were going to do something like this a schoolbus would be a good platform to build on. Lots of people live in them. A full sized new bus is usually in the 100k range, so the 3,000 or so you'd spend for a used one on ebay is a bargain. Regulations require them to be massively overbuilt to protect the kids, while the RVs and campers that people drive around the country in are nothing but poorly constructed plywood boxes stuffed with electronics in comparison. This picture for instance shows the aftermath of an accident between a full sized military hummer and a school bus. School buses also have fuel efficient diesel engines capable of idling indefinitely that are less likely to engulf the cabin in flames that a gas engine. The big downsides are that the rows of windows are not energy efficient and if you want to move around, an old school bus will stick out just about everywhere.

Actually, it turns out though that a much bigger concern than housing is just negotiating the laws, regulations, crime patterns, social concerns and stigmas that come with living in non-traditional housing. This guy is a musician who lives in a conversion van and has a great series of youtube videos that cover all these aspects of the lifestyle. Personally, I think the biggest impediment to chucking the suburban dream home nightmare is the fact that women still expect men to provide them with a 1950s lifestyle in a 21st century economy, and there are still a lot of men who just run with that or at least try to. But we'll definitely be seeing a lot more unconventional housing arrangements becoming the new normal. It's not a matter of if it's going to give but just when.

Bob Wallace said...

I've seen SUVs hit from the front and behind and they were a yard thick. Their safety is a con.

AAB said...


Anonymous said...
All across the plains there are old wooden boxcars in the fields that are no longer used for anything. Most were used as sheds at one time, but as I've pointed out to people a number of them had doors and windows installed. You do the math.


In the UK loads of old barns were converted during the 1980s by yuppies and other middle-class people to live in. Kind of like the middle class people who move into rennovated industrial buildings in the city. So there might be a market for it in the USA.