A podcast & interview by domain.com.au
"Graphic designer Emma Bäcklund and park ranger Felix Marshall have joined the growing percentage of people who are packing up, downsizing and never looking back. But instead of a tiny house or a van, the couple have moved into a converted school bus that they call The Sandy Bus.
Completely redesigned into a quaint living space with everything they need, the bus took quite a bit of work to get it looking the way it does now.
After two years of renovation, their home is complete with a fireplace, french doors and a kitchen and bathroom that is fully operational.
“It’s a 56-seater, we don’t have any seats left in it, so it looks like a school bus on the outside but realistically, it’s somewhat of a Scandinavian apartment that has everything we need,” says Marshall.
As keen surfers destined for a life of adventure, the couple were looking for a way to prepare for the future while still maintaining their lifestyle.
“We travel a lot with our lifestyle, and one morning we realised we needed something to fund our lifestyle and plan a bit ahead for the future,” says Marshall.
While the tiny house movement picks up around the country, the idea of a bus seemed to jump out at Marshal and Bäcklund. They say the bus isn’t for travelling.
“We were looking at the tiny house situation but a bus kind of jumped into our minds because it’s already a structure and something easy to work with,” says Marshall.
“The plan is never to travel in it. It’s just to be able to have a moveable house, the same as a tiny house scheme”
The couple met on the surf coast where they both worked, and they continue love it there. With Bäcklund originally from Sweden, the coastal life was another aspect of what drew the couple to living much like you would in a beachside shack. They live close by to the water not much more than a “stone’s throw away from Bells Beach”.
“We never really wanted to be away from that, it’s really hard to leave,” says Marshall.
“And with council regulations, having it on wheels makes it easier, ” adds Bäcklund.
“Being a bus we have the option if we wanted to move north or south.”
The couple have saved financially, estimating they’ve currently spent about $16,000, including the cost of the bus and a large amount of what’s inside.
“We’re paying $100 a week. Overall, the cost of doing what we have done from start to finish … it’s been minuscule compared to the cost of building a house. We don’t have a mortgage,” says Marshall.
This project has no doubt allowed them to save a lot of money that other first-home builders haven’t, however Bäcklund said that the decision was both a philosophical and a financial one.
“We love this style of living being out on the property, but it was also beneficial financially so we could keep our lifestyle of just packing up and going travelling,” she says.
“We’re off the grid and we’re only relying on water, which we’re hooked up to a tank for. We have no power bills, we have no water bills,” added Marshall.
Part of Domain’s new podcast Somewhere Else