Ben and Meag’s Debt-Free Happy Bus – @Wilddrivelife

"We wanted our next step to be something of our own, unattached to any one location or schedule ..."

Watch your financial burdens evaporate into thin air! Ben and Meag Poirier are real life champions of that experience. A young, vibrant couple who travel the country living their dreams while sharing how they do it with high school kids and tiny house inquisitors. Read their story below and on their Instagram @WildDriveLife.

Drawn from the Well of Freedom

Our tiny living adventure began with the desire to continue our path of affordable, simple living. We were near the end of our 3.5-year journey of paying off $100,000 of student loans and vehicle debt. We wanted our next step to be something of our own, unattached to any one location or schedule, as we pursue and develop a creative business venture together.
We were pretty well trained at living a low-overhead / DIY lifestyle at this point. Lifestyle changes (Meag calls it "lifestyle finance") was a crucial part of how we paid off all that debt so quickly.
We enjoyed being resourceful, appreciative of the little things, finding free ways to have fun (which usually meant healthier choices, win-win!), etc. - it all seemed to fit! Let's live tiny and keep the debt-free train rolling.

Searching for Home

We searched for retro campers, vans, etc. online - something solid and unique that we could renovate and make our own. We found our bus on a Craigslist post and went for it.
We continued working full-time for almost two years while converting the bus, saving money and downsizing our possessions. We learned so much along the way.
Last fall, we began speaking at high schools in New Hampshire about our debt free adventure and the value of balancing physical, mental and financial health when designing your life.
We fell in love with giving back and brightening others days with our aqua house on wheels.  It dawned on us, this experience is NOT just for us. Our bus has connected (and reconnected!) us with so many people, sparked up conversations with strangers and so much more.
Our summer goal (around hiking a few hundred miles in The White Mountains!) is to crowdfund and plan a bus tour of schools and events this fall along the northern states from New Hampshire to Oregon.

Flood of light through the skoolie windows!

Home Sweet Skoolie

Our bus is a 31-foot, 1989 Chevy B6P 8.2T Detroit diesel with a 4-speed automatic Allison transmission.
Before it was our home, it was used as a prison bus and then mobile command center by the Sheriff's department in Fairfax County, VA.
Our priority from the beginning was to maintain an open-concept overall. We kept two of the three locking prison cage doors inside. We moved one to the far front and the other to the very back—we like the added security.
Everything from the cabinet doors to the curtains and our bed frame is completely custom and handmade by us. We used as many second-hand or found materials as possible. It's bright, rustic, and cheerful. This makes us love our bus even more because there is a piece of us everywhere; it's uniquely Ben and Meag.
Ben managed a reclaimed lumber company for several years so using wood with a story throughout our bus was a MUST. We have reclaimed factory maple flooring from a textile mill in Massachusetts, baby blue beadboard accents from an old building in Portland, Maine, a handmade white pine barn board kitchen countertop and more! Our fold-down kitchen table is an original butcher block from an actual butcher that's over 100 years old. We love reclaimed wood!

Bus Living Reality

We've been able to maintain our healthy, homemade food diet (maybe even more so!) since moving into the bus full-time. We just use a simple butane cooktop and toaster oven.
We kept our systems pretty simple. Being off-grid was essential.
We have a 40-gallon freshwater tank (which we plan to expand on!) and gray tank.
We have a composting toilet which eliminates the need for a black tank. Our reclaimed southern yellow pine, sit-in tub/shower is still in the works. Both are in cabinet-style built-ins which keeps our space open. It’s different not to have full walls for the bathroom, we know, but... it works for us! The shower will have a curtain, of course, and our windows are all tinted. We're not animals. 🙂
We have two 300-watt solar panels with a battery bank system. We have plenty of power for our refrigerator, LED lights, water pump, composting toilet fan as well as electronics & small appliances. Being able to comfortably boondock for a week plus is AMAZING.
Our bus came with an installed Cummins Onan 8000 generator and shore power hookup, which are great backups.

@wilddrivelife with a brilliant sunset.

The Focal Point of our Living Space

Our main source of heat is our Dwarf 4kw stove. It's also a focal point of the bus. Everyone LOVES it!
Ben built a beautiful whitewashed brick hearth with a granite base (recycled from a yard sale kitchen cart we found!).
We've been parked full-time in northern New Hampshire since late February so we've seen our fair share of COLD days and nights so far. Our stove keeps us cozy.
We prepped and painted the outside of the bus ourselves, which saved thousands of dollars.
The color makes us happy...

Deciding on a Wood Stove for the Skoolie

We were looking for a small wood stove to fit safely inside of an RV but there were not a lot of resources at the time. We found wood stoves that were small but not necessarily appropriate for an RV that moves.
Tiny Wood Stove had all of the information we needed. The Dwarf product line was specifically designed for a tiny mobile application like ours. This made us feel a lot more comfortable with it all.

Ben finishing the wood storage nook.

Dwarf Stove Installation

The actual install of the stove was simple, especially given the accompanying flue install kit. We had everything we needed except for one small elbow pipe we had made at a local shop in Maine.
For us, the most difficult part was anchoring the wood stove to the bus chassis properly and safely. We chose to use a granite base and drilling through that was not an easy thing to do. Ben also built the brick hearth which required reinforcement to withstand our travels, etc. - all worth it in the end!

The Journey Continues - With Warmth

We've traveled 8,000 miles (so far!) with our bus and everything has held up beautifully.
We spent two winter months in northern New Hampshire and lived to tell the tale! You start to learn burn times, how best to control the temperature, etc. and it becomes a source of not only heat but enjoyment and ambiance. We loved it. It's one of the first things people notice and compliment when they tour our bus.

Ahh, warming feet by the fire. @wilddrivelife

Interested in a small stove for your tiny space? Contact us on the form below and we can help you sort through all the details in getting the perfect stove and installation configuration for your unique space!


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