Bus Conversions vs. RVs: Which One Is Better?

Bus conversions and RVs are both popular vehicles to sleep in when camping, but many people have their favorite.  As you can tell, it’s a pretty popular choice to camp in an RV with a family and even some with friends.  It’s also a common choice to camp out in a bus conversion with a small group of friends.  The bus and RV both offer a lot of space for sleeping, but what about the price?

There are all types of camper conversions, from the traditional bus conversions to the less traditional, but oh so fun, pop-up camper conversions. After all, who doesn’t want to sleep under the stars or in the comfort of your very own shower? Whether you’re forting up against the elements or exploring a different countryside, a camper conversion is the perfect choice for any outdoorsman.

School bus conversions are all over the internet. These luxurious DIY tiny homes on wheels offer a much different experience than a mass-produced RV. So is converting a school bus better than buying an RV? Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t cut and dry.

Bus conversions can cost as much as high-end RVs but they don’t have to

Part of the appeal of the school bus conversion is its nearly limitless potential for customization. Building a unique bus from the ground up means the price of one bus to another can vary wildly. Some build no-frills rolling homes. Others create luxury retreats that can easily cost as much as a “sticks and bricks” house. RVs are much more static in price. Manufacturers set suggested MSRPs and dealerships tack on additional fees. There is a spectrum of mass-produced rigs from affordable to unattainable. On average, an RV is typically more expensive than a Bus conversion. Popular Mechanics estimates that bus conversions cost about 10% of the sale price of a second-hand RV. The average conversion with full hookups can be built for $30,000. Buyers would be hard-pressed to find a similar size RV in that price range, even at the lower end of the quality scale. RVs cost more to purchase and more to maintain. A bus conversion is a clear choice if budget is a primary concern, but the savings mean a high labor cost.

Which is safer, a bus conversion or an RV?

RV in a ditch | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images Safety is where a school bus conversion beats an RV, hands down, with minimal exceptions. RVs have been heavily criticized for safety concerns since they first hit the road. As a result, modern units are made as cheaply and quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this means using lower-quality materials that are less durable. As a result, when an RV is involved in a traffic accident, it’s not uncommon to see whole walls detach and other catastrophic damage. Where RVs are made with plastic, particleboard, and fiberglass, school buses are solid Steel. The arched roof shape and internal ribs give the structure of a school bus immense strength. Even the windows are built to withstand collisions better than an RV, often framed in steel as well. A converted school bus’s biggest weak spot for safety is the interior build. A conversion is only as safe as its owner makes it. With well anchored, sturdy features and correctly installed seatbelts, a converted school bus can be safer than an RV by a landslide.

School bus conversions have some major downsides compared to RVs

word-image-9440 School bus conversion bedroom | Brian Sullivan / Barcroft Media via Getty Images There are a few common headaches that many bus owners face that don’t apply to RVs. Insuring a school bus conversion can be a major pain point. A bus must be converted to certain standards and titled as an RV before it can be insured as one. This process varies from state to state and may include a professional inspection. Even after a bus is properly titled, finding a policy that covers conversions can be challenging. There are companies known for accepting converted busses, but rejections are still possible. Finding the right agent is a make or break for conversion owners. RV parks can be very pricey, and with those prices can come rig standards that busses can not meet. Some parks will turn away a bus conversion based on preconceived impressions. It can be difficult to find a place to camp outside of state parks, whereas a new RV is welcomed anywhere. Whether a school bus conversion or a purchased RV is better really depends on how it will be used. Adventurers who love camping in primitive sites may appreciate the high clearance and off-road capability of a bus. Those who prefer 5-star RV resorts may want to stay away from the DIY route. Both options deliver the same results, adventures, and memories that will last a lifetime. RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About School Bus Conversion Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to convert a bus or buy an RV?

Many people seem to think that converting a bus into a camper van is a better idea than buying an RV. They point out that you can save a lot of money by buying an RV you don’t need to prepay all of the dealer’s fees, and that you can get a better deal on an RV than you will on a bus conversion. The problem with this is that people seldom buy a bus conversion from the dealer, but rather buy from a bus conversion company. Therefore, the dealer gets paid to sell you what you need to convert the bus into an RV. This summer, the best camping trip you can take for under $500 is to buy a used RV. This is the year that used RVs are more affordable than ever, because the economy is bad and people are less likely to buy new RVs. This means that you can find a great, cheap used RV, which will then become your best friend for the next 10 years.

What is the best school bus to convert to RV?

You have a couple of choices when it comes to a school bus conversion, but what is the best school bus to convert to RV? The simple answer is that it depends. Modern day school buses are designed with many safety features to keep children safe and to help keep you and your family safe. So, by comparison, a bus conversion is not quite as safe. However, there are a few schools bus conversions that are designed to be safer than others. RVing isn’t just the answer to that camping dream; it’s become the new way to travel. What used to be relatively rare is now the in thing. The ease of setting up a camper van or full-sized RV has made it a choice for families to save money and have the freedom to drive anywhere they want. It’s a convenient way to travel, and it offers a lot of flexibility. But there are some considerations to keep in mind. RVing can be a lot more expensive than a traditional camping experience.

Do school buses make good RVs?

Getting the right RV for you is not an easy choice. You need to consider size, features, and affordability. If you’re looking to buy a pickup truck with an RV conversion, what should you know? We’ll give you the pros and cons of both options, and let you decide which is right for you. Most people would assume that converting a school bus into an RV would be a lot of work, but this is not necessarily the case. A school bus conversion can be a good option for those who are interested in keeping their vehicles as mobile as possible, but don’t want to spend a lot of money. However, a bus conversion does take some time and money, and it can be a challenge to find a suitable RV that fits well in the converted bus.

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