Do you know why most people have multiple rigs once they transition to bus life or van life? It's because you don't really know what is perfect for you until you live in the space full time. Now that I'm coming up on a year living in my bus LUCKY, I've decided to share what I would change in my bus layout to make it most functional for me. If you're designing your bus, these will be great things to consider, but please know that what works for one person, does not work for another. So you may or may not have the same preferences as mine depending on your lifestyle and needs. Overall, I'm very pleased at the functionality of our bus and could see myself living in LUCKY for years to come. However the below would definitely improve my day to day living.
1. Include a Diesel Heater
I had the focus of being as clean energy as possible (we are all electric) but I wish I knew about diesel heaters when designing my bus. I am so impressed with the diesel heaters I have seen in other rigs. A good quality heating source is not just something I can forgo because I want to be as eco-conscious as possible. That being said I still want to be mindful. What has me so excited about diesel heaters is their efficiency and their effectiveness. It doesn't take much diesel to heat a small space for a long period of time. They are also a much safer alternative to propane camping heaters, as it is properly vented and doesn't have the same carbon monoxide risk. Since my partner Dan is an avid skier, having this effective and efficient off-grid heating system would be a game changer. Something tells me we will be installing a diesel heater for next winter.
I reached out to my pal Charlie Kern, an expert in the Skoolie space and owner of Chrome Yellow Corp. ( a bus conversion company) for his opinion on the best diesel heaters out there. He said that the Webasto Diesel Heater and the Eberspacher Diesel heater are the best on the market. They're a bit pricey, so if you're looking for a budget friendly option there is this off brand option, but that can be a real hit or miss according to Charlie.
2. Turn my couch into a dinette.
Being a digital nomad, having a comfortable work space that is always set up helps me get into the proper mindset to get shit done. The couch we have now is great, and I absolutely love the flip up tables we have (see pic). However, I think a dinette that adjusts into a couch is more functional. Why? More versatility, and it allows for more comfortable hosting. Being a short school bus with just under 100 sq ft of living space, it is difficult to host. There's simply not much room. Having a dinette would allow people to face each other more comfortably rather than sitting side by side. Allowing that dinette to then shift to a couch would still allow that larger couch functionality.
The only downside is that we would lose some under couch storage. However, I am confident it would not be detrimental to our storage situation we have currently.
3. Make my couch 6 ft. in length
Another adjustment with the couch! Again this relates to being able to host. it is difficult for someone of normal size to crash comfortably on the couch. Having that option for when siblings visit or for when people are over and don't want to really squeeze next to each other would make things more comfortable. A longer couch means I have to give up 12 inches elsewhere, which I think I could sacrifice in my closet space. I can hear your gasps through the screen! Believe it or not, with the extra storage I've created in our custom headboard in the bedroom, I think we could comfortably downsize our closet 12 inches.
4. Include a Maxx Air Fan.
I took a gamble when building our bus to nix the fan. Why? I thought a skylight to bring in more natural light in the hallway where the windows are blocked off from the closet and bathroom would be a great option, and I convinced myself that opening the windows would suffice. Generally speaking this does work. However it's just not the same as a fan. I love love love my skylight (we can stargaze from inside, watch the rain, soak up with sun, etc.), but in brutal temperatures I wish I had a fan. Maybe there's a way to have both?
The best fan I've seen is this Maxx Air Fan.
5. Make my under-bed storage more accessible
The platform underneath our mattress is on a hinge. We currently access our under-bed storage by lifting the bed up and propping up the hinged board. This is honestly just a pain. On the outside of the bed we have our electrical breaker box. It's very convenient to access, however we hardly ever need to reach it. I would move the breaker box somewhere else, perhaps easily accessible under the bed, and allow for the front of the bed space to be a door we can easily open and slide things in and out of without having to lift the bed. These little things make all the difference.
I would add an outside water spigot. The convenience to hose down outside or fill up water outside is a bonus, absolutely.