Saturday, October 10, 2009

Moving On A Shoestring

our "moving van"

We're moving on a shoestring and this is our "moving van" and we are the packers and the movers. Follow along and you'll see this isn't as crazy as it seems, and it isn't some harebrained scheme either, well maybe just a little. We have moved across the country and around the corner in our special type "moving vans" five times and we've saved a bundle of money doing it. In my last post Jim Gottuso was wondering why I didn't show some photos of myself in Cabo San Lucas. I thought this would be a good time to let you know why I can't show you the photos just now. All of my photo albums are packed in our "moving van", and there is no way to get to them.

Before you get worried about us showing up in front of your house or studio in this bus, don't worry, we won't. We'll be traveling across the country in an actual motorhome, not in this bus. This bus is our "moving van" and it's also our "storage unit" all rolled into one, that's how we're moving on a shoestring. I'll give you a tour of our motorhome next time. The teapot post will have to wait, these posts are much more interesting, as you'll soon see.

inside of "moving van"
still a little room

The first time we planned to move we called several moving companies and several do it yourself places to rent moving trucks and trailers, but we found out movers charge a lot and we would still have to pay for storage. Since we had already sold our home, we had to do something quick. We thought about buying our own moving van but those were expensive. We thought about buying trailers, but we would need a vehicle with a powerful engine to tow the trailer full of our belongings. Then all of a sudden we had an idea. We thought of buying a school bus and taking out the seats and using it for a "moving van". That's how the moving on a shoestring idea came about.

Our first "moving van" was a gas powered school bus which had just been taken out of service. The tires were good and the bus was in very good mechanical condition. We took all the seats out of the bus and sent them to the recyclers and started packing the bus. We were lucky we chose an older bus with a big back door because we found out a refrigerator, washer, dryer, sofa and other large items fit through the rear door opening with ease. Once we had the bus packed we stored it at a friends house and set out on our travels, that was in 1994.

Gary and our Arkansas "moving van"
the Mt Zion Missionary Baptist Church Malvern Arkansas bus

We ended up in Arkansas and once we found a place to live Gary went back to California and got our "moving van" full of belongings and delivered it right to our door. We unpacked everything right there and we only moved the items twice, once out of our house in California and once into our new house in Arkansas. The first bus cost us $1800 plus the fuel. The storage had been free because we stored the bus at a friend's house. This was so much less expansive than a moving company would have charged or what we would have paid in truck or trailer and rental costs. Once we moved in, though, we realized we had a bus with no seats and wondered what we could do with it. We asked around and found out empty buses were sought after in Arkansas for "hunting buses". It turns out "hunting buses" are a big deal in Arkansas, just like hunting is a big deal, going to the deer woods is a big deal, but I digress. We sold our bus for what we paid for it. We were so very happy and felt so very lucky.

To make a long story short, suffice it to say we've ended up moving on a shoestring five times with five different "moving vans" and each time we have sold our bus and recouped our money. As you can see by the name of our Arkansas bus, they don't all have to be school buses either. They can be church buses and I have a story or two to tell about that too, but I'll save it for another time. Gary has a Class A driver's license and is very experienced with driving heavy loads. Please do not attempt to drive a bus unless you have the experience to do so since it could be dangerous. Our method of moving may not be feasible for the average person, but for us it has enabled us to move very reasonably.

inside of "moving van" (sorry it's so dark)
almost completely full

Now about those Cabo photos. Our bus is 40 feet long. First Gary put in a solid plywood bulkhead behind the drivers seat. Since then Gary has been loading literally everything we own into the bus through the rear door. He packs it in tight against the bulkhead so the load won't shift in transit. Right now the photo albums are somewhere in the bus, but without unloading the whole bus there is no way to get to them till we get to the next location, wherever that might be. So sorry, Jim, you'll have to wait on the Cabo photos for a while. But if you happen to look out your front door and see an unfamiliar bus driving up your street you'll know who it is. By the way, do you have any extra parking spaces? Just kidding, (kinda). Stay tuned for a tour of our motor home next time - which will be our rolling home very shortly.


  1. Just fantastic!
    I read your blog to my husband this morning. It was great breakfast entertainment :)
    Enjoy your travels in your motorhome.

  2. Is's all getting very thrilling! I am enjoying reading all about it on my enforced vacation from the pottery.

  3. Hi Gary, thanks we have been lucky with the ideas we have come up with for sure. The bus this time is diesel I hope it lives up to the reputation of all the others.

    Hi Cindy, thanks there is a lot of guy stuff in this post for sure, driving, packing and hunting. So glas you and your husband enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more.

    Hi Kitty, thanks, enforced vacation from pottery I missed something, will have to check into your blog.

  4. Smart...wasn't the beatles that sang a song about a yellow bus?

  5. You truly are one of the most creative people I know. How resourceful! What a fun post to read.

  6. What an adventure! Thank you for making us all part of it!

  7. Hi Mary, thanks, wasn't that the yellow submarine? I don't remember a school bus but maybe there was one.

    Hi Amy, thanks so much, what's that saying about necessity being the mother of invention.

    Hi dbradbury, thank you, yes we're starting a new adventure very soon.

  8. The Bus is a great idea and almost has me tempted to try something similar! Those old school buses have a lot of personality don't they! Looking forward to more adventures.


  9. Operation tomorrow, nothing serious. Can't fly for 2 weeks afterwards so I am back in the shed soon with Bill and Queen Bess. Staying with my sister at the moment as I can't be left after the general for 24 hours!!!!!!!!!!!Or I will rip up the soft furnishings.
    Not allowed to make any major decisions either after the op which is a laugh for a gemini, every moment of every day I am making massive life changing decisions! I will post on Wednesday all being well.

  10. Oh Kitty, I hope all goes well, yes massive life changing decisions evry day I know all too well. I have had some doozies lately and have nearly gone ... I am thinking of you every moment and sending good thoughts and vibes to you.

  11. This post was so intriguing, I had to read it out loud to the hubster. You are amazing. If you come through the central coast on your travels, please visit!

  12. Hi Patricia, thanks, I am glad your husband got to hear about the adventure too. We had lots of adventures with the buses, one of which folks may enjoy that I'll tell at a later date and I am sure more will come up with this bus too.

  13. This is a great story, We have an Arkansas connection, My first wife had ties in the boston mountain, a little south of Euricka Springs, where her father has a small restaurant. I have a lot of fondness for the area.
    It is incredible that you have done it so much, I think that I would just sell everything.Looking forward to more story and pictures.

  14. Hi Ron, thanks, we used to live near Hot Springs. We visited Eureka Springs and like it there too. My husband Gary wants to go back for a visit to Arkansas on our way out to the East Coast when we leave here. We tried selling a lot of stuff, but folks are just so broke they couldn't afford much and some things were too nice to practically give away so we might as well just keep them. more soon.

  15. so you're not new to this sort of thing... i'm on pins and needles now about the mysterious "cabo pics", the shot of the bus with slippers on is cool too. it seems your wanderlust that took you to cabo hasn't waned much since those youthful days.

  16. Hi Jim, yes we have almost made a habit of traveling, but this time it is really hard since we aren't as young as we used to be and I can't do much because of my back so Gary is having to do just about everything and has to keep working too. The slippers are covers to keep the sun from rotting the wheels - the sun is really intense here. I wish there was a way to get to those photos, but alas no - Gary has enough to do already. I do have a few photos from some other trips we've taken and I will be posting those, so stay tuned.


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