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TheStreet Open House

School Bus Turned Into Energy-Efficient Home

By Krisanne Alcantara

When people envision a dream home, it's generally a two-story, brick-and-mortar classic with a backyard and white picket fence. But Richard and Rachel Lane's doesn't have four walls -- but four wheels. The Lanes live on a bus in the San Francisco Bay area: a former school bus, to be exact, that they report purchasing in Oregon via Craigslist for $3,000.

The 39-foot bus is just like "a regular home" on the inside, featuring a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, lounge area and even a movie room on the bus' "second story." Its livability is achieved by using custom, hand-made furniture, and IKEA pieces that have been altered to fit the bus' specs. It even sleeps 10!

"We wanted to make a home together, and this was a way we could own our own property and really create our own lifestyle," Rachel told AOL Real Estate. "With modular dwellings, everything's kind of decided for you, so you're not truly creating the structure you want to live in. So, for us, we found it was really advantageous to develop our own unique living space."

And it seems to be working: Rachel, a therapist, and Richard, an IT professional, have been living on the bus full-time for four years. The Lanes are part of the trend of re-imagining the American Dream -- in response to a struggling economy and a growing desire for greater flexibility and sustainability. (Prior to living on the bus, Richard lived in a home in Northern California's suburbs, while Rachel lived in a studio apartment in San Francisco).

The Lanes currently don't pay rent or a mortgage -- they only pay $100 a month in maintenance. And they can live completely off-the-grid. Six solar panels, which they bought on eBay for $200 each, are mounted on the roof of the bus, generating all the electricity needed (770 watts for all daily necessities, including to power their refrigerator). Propane feeds the couple's catalytic heater and, soon, their stove and oven. The home also features a composting toilet. (The home has no running water, though: The Lanes buy it by the gallon on an as-needed basis).

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