Couple Turns School Bus Into Sustainable, Rent-Free Home [Video]

For many people, living the American dream comes with something along the lines of a two-story house with a white picket fence, filled with two parents and a the proverbial 2.5 kids. Oh, and a golden retriever.

For Richard and Rachel Lane, however, their dream home looks a little different.

Actually, a lot different. The couple live in a renovated school bus, a 39-foot sustainable home in which the couple are members of the nation’s growing “off the grid” population.

The Lanes purchased their bus-now-home on Craigslist for about $3,000. They sawed a Volkswagon van in half and mounted it to the top of the bus, giving it a second story, and painted the whole thing blue and white. The couple purchased solar panels for $200 that provide the bus with all the electricity it needs to provide light and power. The bus is complete with kitchen, working composting toilet, bathtub, and entertainment center. It even sleeps ten, and the kitchen table is big enough for dinner parties of six.

“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.”

Rachel, a therapist, and Richard, an IT professional, recognize that living in a bus may not be for everyone, but it seems to work for them. Although the bus may only be parked in one location for three consecutive nights, the California natives move around within the same neighborhood.

The Lanes are members of a growing number of people who are looking to re-invent the American dream by living “off the grid” — that is, living independently of municipal water supplies, sewer systems, and gas and power lines.

Green housing experts such as author and Huffington Post blogger Nick Rosen suggests that the unstable economic climate and a “growing distrust in the state” are leading to more and more families looking into more sustainable, off the grid living. Currently, 750,000 off-grid households exist in the United States, with that number increasing by 10 percent annually.

Rosen says that there is a “pent up demand” for off-grid living, and companies such as GE and IBM seem to agree, suggesting that within a decade, up to half of American homes will be generating their own renewable electricity.

While all off-grid homes are not renovated buses, the Lanes are comfortable in their home, which they say costs about $100 and month to maintain. Instead of a mortgage, they have a once-yearly registration fee for their “vehicle,” since they do not have RV status, according to Richard.

What do you think about off-grid living?