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New Jersey mom trades rent for "Skoolie Living" on converted school bus: "Definitely worth it"

New Jersey mom trades rent for "Skoolie Life"
New Jersey mom trades rent for "Skoolie Life" 02:50

MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- The cost of living keeps going up, but there's a surprising solution you may have seen on social media.

It's called Skoolie Living, turning an old school bus into home sweet home. 

CBS New York's Zinnia Maldonado introduces us to a local mom who is giving it a try.

Skoolie Living refers to those who convert school buses, known as skoolies, into livable spaces for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a traditional home or paying rent.

It's a lifestyle gaining more visibility recently via TikTok. In fact, that's how New Jersey mom Raven Tyler got the idea. She's now been living the Skoolie Life for the past six months. 

"This lifestyle is incredible. Yes, it's a little difficult. Yes, there will be a learning curve. But open your mind to it," she told Maldonado.

The cost to convert a school bus runs anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000, but Tyler flew to Florida last December to purchase a skoolie that was already converted for $20,000. At the time, she was paying $2,250 per month for her Montclair apartment.

"Every month, I felt like I was drowning and I didn't see the value of it, especially after not even using a fraction of the apartment," she said. "So I figured why not downsize."

Her current rent is $0, and her biggest expenses now are maintenance and diesel -- low costs in comparison. 

"I've saved over $16,000 in rent since I moved out," she said. "It's been quite a journey. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Not saying I'd live this lifestyle forever, but it's definitely worth it, and that's why I really want this to become more well known."

She lives with her 5-year-old daughter Mylaher, cat MJ and German shepherd Homi. 

As for the design of the bus, practically upon entry are the stairs and drivers seat. Then you have the kitchen and living room. Then, there's the bathroom, and in the back is the bedroom.

The 33-year-old says she made the switch to Skoolie Living after she lost her job as a technical recruiter and knew she wouldn't be able to continue paying the high cost of rent.

"Me and my daughter could have been homeless if it weren't for this lifestyle. And now I've been able to live half the year, six months, the most stress free," Tyler said. 

Tyler said the thought of living on a converted school bus was odd to her at first, but now she sees it as a unique, affordable way to live and hopes her story inspires others to live outside the box, as well. 

"We need to normalize this. We need to make it more accessible for people and stop withholding something that could really help save someone," she said. 

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