What Size Bus is Best for Me?
The first step is to decide the purpose of your bus conversion. Some people want to travel full-time, while others just want to use it to host guests in their backyard. Depending on how much you'll travel, where you live, and what your lifestyle is will determine the best rig for you! For those who want to travel a lot, it's more important to find a bus with lower miles, a reliable transmission/engine combo, and good tires (since those cost a fortune!). Regarding the length of your future purchase, there are pros and cons to full size buses and short buses. In my opinion, full size buses are better if you want more room inside, if you plan to work/host in your bus often, or if you live in warmer climates. The longer the bus, the harder it is to insulate and the more power it'll require to keep warm or cool. The cons of a full sized bus (the Roamer is 36') are that it's harder to find places to park, more difficult to drive, and more work to convert because of the extra space. A short bus may be right for you if you like to adventure travel or solo travel and spend fewer hours inside the bus. While it may be hard to fit all of your belongings in a short bus, the options of places to park and roads you can traverse open up a lot.
Where to Find a School Bus?
While it may seem odd, my experience with Facebook Marketplace has been the easiest way to find buses for sale. It saved me the headache of calling a million places to check their inventory, and I found that often, auction and car lot companies even post their inventory on Marketplace. I found the Roamer at BusMax in Rome, GA, after seeing an ad for a different bus in their inventory on Marketplace. You can also find buses on Craigslist, auction sites, or bus sales yards.
What to Look For When You First See a Bus?
I'm not a mechanic, so the night before I test drove my bus, I searched for the exact model bus on YouTube and listened to how it started up, how the gauges worked, and how the engine looked. There are plenty of videos of people starting up their bus, so listening to what the videos sounded like helped me determine if my bus had anything wrong with it. You can learn to do an air brake test online, which is really important to ensure the air bags (buses don't have brake pads) don't have any punctures in them. Another important thing to look for is rust. Underneath vehicles (especially in northern or coastal environments), rust can build up and cause weak points in the frame or floor. While some rust is normal, you will save major headache by looking for a bus which you won't have to address that issue. Finally, I had a mechanic look over the bus and check the belts, bearings, and everything else he saw fit to give me peace of mind that I wouldn't regret buying it. As I've said before, I am not a mechanic so this information is just my opinion so if you have more insight in the process, use your own judgment when purchasing your vehicle!