Living in a Van Down by the River

Back Home for the Summer

When we moved to Costa Rica, the original plan was for one year- experience a different culture, learn the language, etc. We didn’t count on falling head over heels in love with the place and making some of the best friends of our lives. We decided to stay another year, and the kids have signed on. But nothing beats a northern Michigan summer, and we were dying to see family and friends, so we got our plane tickets to head home.

Where Will We Live?

The only snag in our plan? The renters in our house want to stay for another year. We didn’t have a place to live. Rentals in northern Michigan in the summer are insanely expensive, especially for a family of our size. Mike suggested living on the boat for the summer, but that was waaaaaaay too small. His next idea? A camper. I wasn’t on board at first, I had images of living in a van down by the river.


But the idea was intriguing, and I warmed up to it. While I was looking at boring RV’s Mike scoured the internet for our next cool vehicle. And…he found a bus.

The Bluebird

Here it is: our summer home. a 40-foot schoolbus that sleeps six.

He got the bus on eBay, and we picked it up in Brighton. Every day four or five people stop by to tell us how cool it is, and some ask for a tour. We have a generator and air conditioning. The inside isn’t nearly as cool as the outside. I hope to redo it, but not this summer. My favorite thing about it is where we get to stay. We’re living on million dollar lots on Lake Leelanau, Lake Michigan, Torch Lake, and everything in between.

The Good

There is a place for everyone to sleep. The kids are snug as bugs in their bunks…

Mike and I have a queen bed and zero privacy.

The kitchen and bathroom are spacious and have everything we need.

Don’t mind the dirty dishes

The Bad

I don’t know exactly where to put the clothes for six people, they end up in heaps on the floor or in storage baskets. The bus has country decor, beadboard and wallpaper borders abound. There is a fan in the kitchen roof that is broken and lets rain in. Did I mention there is ZERO privacy? Wifi is spotty in campgrounds so it’s hard for me to work. And, it’s HUGE. I won’t be driving this beast this summer.

bus driver

The Ugly

There’s a plumbing issue, and we haven’t gotten the water to work yet, so the toilet gets a little stinky. Sometimes it gets a little bickery because we’re all on top of each other. But mostly we’re outside.

The Great

This is another chapter in our big adventure, and I love going wherever the wind takes us. We’ll be back in Costa Rica in the Fall, but for the summer? You’ll find us in a bus, down by the lake.