- After retiring, Keri Gailloux moved into a school bus that she converted into her full-time home for $US45,000.
- The school bus has a bedroom, a full bathroom, a kitchen, and a living space.
- Gailloux travels around the country with the bus, so far visiting California, Nevada, and Arizona.
- She said she understands that one day she won’t be physically able to drive the bus, but for now she’s enjoying ageing on the open road.
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When Gailloux retired last year, she wanted to spend some time on the road while also downsizing her belongings, so she moved into a former school bus. She now travels around the US in her bus that she cleverly named “If Wishes Were Horses,” after her favourite nursery rhyme.
Gailloux invited Insider into her home on wheels. This is what her unconventional retirement home looks like.
In 2018, Gailloux decided she needed a change after retiring from the medical field, so she moved out of her San Francisco home and bought a school bus.
Growing up in a military family, Gailloux was used to moving around and living in a small trailer.
“It’s like returning back to those roots,” she told Insider.
Gailloux bought her school bus for $US4,500 and immediately got to work converting it into her retirement home.
After getting acquainted with the tiny-house movement, Gailloux knew she wanted to downsize. But the idea of travelling with a tiny house attached to a truck did not seem realistic for her.
“I didn’t want to tow anything,” she said. “I didn’t want to have that burden.”
She converted the bus for $US45,000 with the help of a builder, perfectly combining her goals of living tiny and travelling.
“I wanted something longer-term for me and something that felt like a home,” she said.
While the outside looks like a school bus, the inside has everything a regular home has — just on a smaller scale.
Inside, there is a full kitchen, a living space, a workspace, a bathroom, and a back bedroom.
“It’s everything I envisioned,” Gailloux said.
Upon entering the bus, you’re welcomed by a cosy seating area.
“It feels warm,” Gailloux said. “It’s cosy. The wood is really charming.”
Her kitchen is fully equipped with a stove, an oven, and a sink.
The kitchen has everything a regular-sized kitchen has, but it is more compact.
Though the kitchen is smaller, there is still plenty of counter space so she can fit all her appliances.
Gailloux said the smaller kitchen hadn’t hindered her cooking.
The refrigerator pulls out from a drawer to help save floor space.
The drawer’s knob is actually a button that locks and keeps it in place as Gailloux drives.
This hardware can be seen throughout the bus and is inspired by features on boats.
“Everything is really streamlined,” she said.
This table next to the couch doubles as her kitchen table and her work desk.
Gailloux said it was “ideal for sitting on my computer” or “having breakfast that’s someplace other than the couch.”
There’s even a heater in the kitchen and seating area to keep Gailloux warm.
“I don’t ever feel cramped in this,” Gailloux said. “When the curtains are closed and it’s in the evening, I feel like I’m in a stateroom on a yacht or a train car.”
Just down the hall, you’ll find the bathroom, which has a full shower, a toilet, and a sink.
On the school bus, Gailloux has a compost toilet.
Right next to the bathroom is Gailloux’s bedroom, which is actually just a bed surrounded by windows.
Three small steps lead to Gailloux’s bed, which also has storage space underneath.
The bed itself is a cosy space with more headroom than in some tiny houses.
If you look closely, you can see that the rear emergency door of the bus is covered by curtains for privacy.
Also visible on the bed is a foldable chair, which she uses at the table next to the couch.
The house has been fitted with high-end elements that make it safe to live in and drive.
There’s spray insulation in the walls, the ceiling, and the floors to help regulate temperature.
The floors are Marine-grade, designed to withstand the movements of the bus, as regular hardwood could buckle as Gailloux drives.
Gailloux said her favourite part of living in her tiny house was getting to be mobile and travel to places she never thought of visiting.
On the bus, she has travelled to Sandpoint, Idaho; Palm Springs, California; Parker, Arizona; and Nevada.
“Meeting great people and getting to go to these neat, quirky places that you normally wouldn’t get to go to has been really fun,” Gailloux said. “I love it. I’m having a great time.”
It isn’t all easy, however. Gailloux remembered the time her bus got stuck in the sand at Joshua Tree National Park in California.
She had to call the police so that a park ranger could help her get the bus out. They ended up having to call a tow truck because they could not dig it out.
The whole time, Gailloux didn’t panic, she said.
“I said, ‘You know what? You’re in your house. You’re OK,'” she said.
The problems don’t stop there. Sometimes she struggles to find a place to park the bus.
Gailloux said that perhaps “the biggest anxiety for anybody travelling on the road” is finding a place to park.
She said she uses apps to help drivers of school buses and other trucks to find places to park.
Usually, she stays in RV parks or campgrounds. But she said she’d had some nerve-racking nights where she had to sleep on the side of the road and hope for the best.
As a retiree, Gailloux is also aware of how this lifestyle may get more difficult over time.
She acknowledged that opening and closing the door could be hard on her hands and that sometimes she struggles to get into the bus without the proper handrails.
“I’m in my 60s, and I’m ageing into my bus,” Gailloux said. “I need to pay attention to that.”
Gailloux said she understands that there will come a day when she will physically no longer be able to drive the bus. She hopes that by that time, one of her children will own a piece of land so that she can permanently park it there and live in the backyard – or they could rent it out as an Airbnb, she said.
For now, Gailloux will live out her retirement days on the road in her converted school bus.
“People think they can’t retire, and they keep working because of external pressure, or they think they don’t have enough money,” she said. “People work until they’re 70 at jobs they may be good at but it’s not their passion. So many times people think and dream about what they want to do and simply don’t do it.”
Gailloux said she didn’t want to be that person. She wanted to get out and see the world from the windows of her school bus.
“I want to be living my life,” Gailloux said. “For me, this was about stepping towards freedom.”
- Read more:
- A mother lives in a 270-square-foot tiny house with her 2 children and 2 dogs. Here’s what it’s like inside.
- I spent 3 days living in a 350-square-foot house in a community of tiny homes – see what it was like
- 23 photos that show the ugly truth of living in a tiny house
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