From Buzz to Bus Life
After a few years of working in a fast-paced, high-stress corporate environment, where ten hour days, six days a week revolved around formatting Excel spreadsheets, the apparent efficiency of a successful, capitalist lifestyle slowly became more and more redundant. ‘Living for the weekend’ didn’t seem effective or even appealing anymore, and the idea of building a tiny home on wheels, that could allow for a full-time holiday and create a better work-life balance started to bloom. This is how four friends from Hong Kong left their corporate lives behind to travel the world in a converted school bus. Enter, Skool and the Gang…
Two years ago, sitting at his desk in Hong Kong, adjusting his seat to relieve his back pain, something just clicked with Quentin – he shouldn’t have to be living with these issues at just 28-years-old. Like every other Excel warrior, he assumed he was working to save for a deposit, to get a mortgage, to buy a house. He needed an alternative.
At some point in the past, a friend had sent him a link to a company in Canada that was going into liquidation and selling its school buses. It came apparent to him that the shell of a bus could work in the same way as a modular pod, and he could therefore replace all of the same elements of a house, with that of a bus. Having worked in the construction industry as a Quantity Surveyor for seven years, albeit from behind a computer, he had a good understanding of the make up of a dwelling house and that the possibility of building one in a bus also meant that costs would be dramatically low!
The thought of having to live in such a ‘tiny’ space never really crossed his mind. Looking back, he was already living tiny; in Hong Kong we pay extortionate rates to share a 500 square-foot, rented flat. Even if living in a school bus meant that he had half the space, he would be mobile and could drive whenever and wherever he pleased. More importantly, with two months’ rent Quintin would be able to afford the majority of the build.
Canada seemed like the ideal place to make this dream come true while also enjoying the beautiful landscapes, nature and relaxed culture. It didn’t take long to recruit friends to join him in his utopian dream. After a year working in hectic Hong Kong (where “work hard, play hard” seemed to be our official motto), the decision was made and not only his girlfriend Xana, but also his childhood best friend, Alex and his girlfriend, Alix (me!) were on board with the idea. Why couldn’t we swap junk boats and boozy brunches for a life on the road?
Of course, building a house and traveling using only your savings is possible, but not sustainable. We knew that someday we would find ourselves back in that office chair, so we needed to find a way to make enough money while on the road to cover all of our costs. Which is where we’re at now, seeking alternatives and trying out new business partnerships along the way.
In March 2017, our gang flew to Calgary, AB, Canada with one goal in mind: find that school bus, turn it into a mobile home and travel as much as possible. We’ve found the bus and have spent the last two months converting it! We used as much recyclable material as we could, picking up free pallets and wood through Kijiji or Craigslist ads online. We built everything ourselves.
With the goodbyes came a mix of emotion; support, incredulousness, worry, excitement. The thought of leaving behind ‘promising careers’, going against the grain and not ‘settling down and buying a house’ is a hard concept for some people to grasp. Any adventure needs some planning and an ever bigger dose of dreaming – one key thing this experience has taught us is that if you can dream it, you can do it! It will take time, money and commitment and it’s not always easy, but nothing really worth doing ever is. If you’re stuck in a rut and looking for your own adventure, stay on track with your planning and allow yourself those ‘freak out days.’ Follow your gut instincts.
As we write this from a couch we made ourselves, in a cosy and warm home on wheels, at the bottom of a mountain, we must admit that sometimes we do miss the ‘Home Kong’, but we’re so grateful for our time spent here, leaving the 852 taught us to slow down and appreciate the present. Not bad, don’t you think?