After a failed business deal at the beginning of the pandemic, US Coast Guard veteran Craig Gordnier found himself back home on his parents’ couch at 27 years old.
He tried to find a job, but the hunt was more challenging than ever.
“March, April, and May was just so difficult. Because of COVID, I knew I wasn’t going to find a job. The way that life was looking, I had everything taken from me,” he told Insider.
Craig, who spent eight years in service, had envisioned himself traveling across the country in an RV during his retirement years.
When he started to plan out his life, he realized he could cut 40 years out of his original plan and work on his dream RV now.
So, he took the plunge and purchased a 1999 Bluebird TC 2000 school bus in May 2020. Craig then dedicated the next six months and spent an additional $40,000 converting the vehicle into a mobile home.
The Coast Guard veteran bought the bus partially renovated from a man in South Dakota who had already raised the roof and installed spray foam insulation on the bus.
He took over from the point and renovated it into a livable home with the help of his father, grandfather, and a few family friends with experience in welding.
Craig said he wasn’t worried at all about downsizing. In fact, he found the entire process to be “liberating.”
He now lives a clutter-free life and has completely embraced the minimalist lifestyle. He has no storage locker; everything he owns is on the bus with him.
Craig designed his home with an open layout, modeling it after a studio apartment.
“Just because houses have rooms does not mean that a bus needs to have rooms,” he said.
As soon as you enter the bus, you can see all the way to the back. Craig believes this design choice makes the bus seem more spacious.
“It feels like a mansion on wheels,” he said.
Craig kept the original driver’s area at the very front of the bus to preserve its history. It contrasts with the rest of the home’s modern decor, but it’s his “absolute favorite thing” about the whole build.
Near the driver’s seat is the kitchen area, which features a faux-marble countertop made of two pieces of 3/4-inch recycled plywood. With the use of epoxy, Craig was able to give it a marble countertop finish.
The kitchen also has a stainless steel fridge, a propane stove, and an espresso machine.
The living area has a 56-inch fireplace with stones and lighting that can change color. It has a plywood hearth installed about a foot and a half off the ground. The extra space below is used as storage.
There’s also a coffee table on hinges attached to the fireplace, which can be stowed away or expanded into a table.
Across the fireplace is a couch that doubles as a queen-sized bed for guests. The bus batteries and electrical systems are neatly tucked away behind the sofa.
Craig’s bedroom and bathroom are located at the very back of the mobile home, with a wall separating the two areas.
The bed size is somewhere between a queen and a full and sits on a slightly raised platform. The skylight above provides Craig with a full view of the stars at night.
The bathroom has a rainfall shower, composting toilet, vanity mirror, sink, and a three-drawer medicine cabinet.
“The craziest thing you’ll realize is that by living in a small space and having way less stuff, [you have less of] all of the little monotonous things that rob your day one penny at a time, like cleaning or laundry or dishes,” he said. “You have so much more time to just be doing what you want.”
Today, the Coast Guard veteran is happier than ever, living his dream life with his partner, Kate, and their baby, who is due to come out this month! You can follow him on Instagram to get the latest updates.
Click on the video below to see Craig’s gorgeous mobile home.
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