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They say home is where the heart is, and for 29-year-old Patrick Schmidt, that can be literally anywhere across the country thanks to a 1990 school bus he lovingly converted with his parents.
Schmidt says he was looking for a major life change when he began searching for a bus to buy earlier this year. The idea was inspired by childhood memories of spending weekends camping with his parents in an RV trailer, as well as the movie "Into the Wild," which chronicles the true story of Chris McCandless, who gave away all of his money to charity and journeyed to Alaska for a simple life in the wilderness.
“I saw that he lived life the way he wanted to, truly doing what he wanted to be doing,” Schmidt explained to TODAY.com. “The whole time he was living his life, he was able to travel and inspire people, offering some sort of hope. Since seeing those images of Magic Bus 142 on the big screen, you could say I’ve been on a collision course with bus life.”
In March, he purchased his bus for $4,500 from a church, and over the next three months, made it into his dream home.
Features include solar panels, an enclosed bathroom section with a flush RV toilet and a hot/cold water shower, an electric stove that looks like a log fire inside a wood stove, a dining table that transforms into bed, and a window-mount air conditioner.
“I come into the bus and feel relaxed and comfortable,” he said. Total costs for the conversion ran about $9,000.
But the bus isn’t the only thing that received a transformation.
“I’m not at all the same person I was when I first saw it for sale online,” he said.
Since fixing up the mobile home, he’s taken it on a journey of almost 10,000 miles across 30 states and learned a few things in the process. He says he’s made it a point to eat healthier, cut back on waste and now pays more attention to his own life rather than worrying about societal influences.
He says the best part about this whole project is that he can now call himself a mortgage-free home owner. “Not many people in America can say that — especially not in their 20’s.”
But downsizing wasn't easy.
“It was a frustrating nightmare, and I really doubted my sanity and what I was doing with my life,” he admitted. Coming from a 718 square-foot apartment in Seattle that he shared with his former girlfriend, Schmidt spent a few months eliminating the majority of his possessions.
Currently, Schmidt and his adventure bus are parked at a friend’s house in Florida for the winter, but he says he plans to head back west in March, maybe work-camping along the way to Las Vegas where his parents live and possibly moving back up to Seattle to open a tiny home/ converted school bus bed and breakfast. He’s also planning to write a book on his journey and keeps a blog title SkoolieLove.
“This is definitely the life I have imagined for myself,” he added. “I’m able to meet people from all over the world, I get to live in my home and customize it however I want. I can be parked anywhere, but I’m always home. I’m truly blessed and never take for granted all the work, time, effort and money it took to get here.”