The sprinter van and school bus conversions have taken the traveler lifestyle by storm. We put together a list of differences between the two to help prospecting builders understand what they are getting into before they make a decision.
Depending on how you go about this, one could easily cost less or more. I have converted brand new 4×4 sprinter vans for people who have never needed to hear the term “budget” before. This can approximately cost $70,000. If you are going to spend that kind of money, just purchase a camper. I have also purchased a type A school bus for $5k and put $2k worth of work into it and had (for the most part) the same results. This a major reason why I need to write this list for you. More than not, my experience with rebuilding these moving homes has been on the “budget” side of things. Honestly, it is just as effective (and way more fun) to rebuild a used school bus with little extra miles.
Space is a major factor between the two. Sprinter Vans have WAY less space than even the smallest school bus. They can (if you buy a larger one) have enough space to fit a full-sized mattress. It ultimately depends on preference. Obviously a bus looks cooler and doesn’t give off the “Free candy” vibe, but for those looking to go smaller and do not have as many requirements to fit their lifestyle, a sprinter van can be the way to go. On the other side of the spectrum, if you are looking to have a full living space, even just a place to hang out with maybe someone else, go with at least a Type A skoolie conversion. This will provide plenty of space. If you are going to go bigger, then you will most definitely be spending more money on a full-sized school bus. Chances are, though, you don’t need to.
Fuel Consumption can give you a heart attack if you arent ready for it. Fuel for a bus is going to cost you WAY more than a sprinter van, but depending on what you buy, the van might cost you more. Typically speaking, you’ll be spending less on gas with a sprinter van.
I can’t stress this enough. Buy used. Unless you have infinite money and you’re just blowing it in the meantime, BUY USED. There is absolutely no need for either option to purchase new. The amount of money I was able to save converting a used school bus was imperative if I was going to accomplish the task. With the amount I was able to save on purchasing used, I was able to replace an alternator, starter, starting coil, battery and a few other important items for MUCH less the cost of purchasing new. On top of that, the items that I had purchased came with a LIFETIME warranty. This ensures that my friends’ HOUSE (and I can’t stress this enough, this is your HOUSE) had basic coverage if anything went wrong. If you’re looking to buy new, you’ll be able to get 30k mile warranties, but you’ll hit that mark way quicker than you thought if you plan to use your sprinter or bus the way it should be used.
If you are looking to travel solo, you have a better bet going with a Sprinter Van conversion. Going with partners? Go with a skoolie. Both can be found for cheaper than what you think as long as you put a little elbow grease into the functioning maintenance of the vehicle. Trust me, you’re going to be under the hood of either of these more than you think. Unless you’re willing to put the money down on brand new everything (which is kinda stupid) its how you want to live that decides what you are looking for.