This Web Designer Gave Up His Apartment to Live, Travel, and Work in a Renovated Bus With His Dogs
Travel| | By Brian Delpozo
Several years ago web developer Michael Matarrese decided to take up a distinctly different way of living: he bought an old school bus, renovated it, moved out of his apartment, and began living in the bus traveling around America parking in public places all while continuing to do his job.
Your Daily Dish was able to speak exclusively with Matarrese on the project, which he has been documenting on his website The Bus Experience.
He explained that the endgame of the project is to use the bus as part of a permanent home. “The bus is really part of a plan to buy a piece of land and set up a homestead. The tiny house bus will eventually act as the cabin on a piece of land with the benefit of being moveable.”
He elaborated further on the what inspired the plan, telling Your Daily Dish, “A few years back, I rented a cabin on 70 acres in Gold Beach, Oregon. It was an amazing experience and taught me a few lessons about what it would take to make a rural lifestyle sustainable. Since then I’ve focused on being able to work from an internet connection.”
From there, Matarrese discussed a wide-range of Bus Experience topics with us.
Your Daily Dish: Was it always your intention to document the project online as you have?
Michael Matarrese: I made sure to stay disciplined about taking lots of pictures because I felt they could be useful. But I didn’t have intentions of setting up the blog. It’s not usually in my nature to show off my work or be like, “Look at me!”
YDD: How are you able to find steady WiFi for your web design?
MM: T-Mobile unlimited plan is $95 per month and comes with 14 gigs of tethering/hotspot data. I usually only use about 10 gigs out of the 14. And I could always add another unlimited line for only $50. The hotspot speed hasn’t been a problem.
YDD: What kind of feedback, positive or negative, have you gotten?
MM: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who found the blog useful, including a young couple in Seattle who bought a bus then ran into problems finding a work site to do the conversion. They ended up using my project as a rough guide of how to complete their project.
YDD: How about specific feedback from those in the public spaces where you’ve stationed the bus?
MM: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. I probably got 15 compliments from people while painting the bus on a random side street in Portland, OR. I even used a Home Depot parking lot as a worksite for about a month. I would show up early in the morning and leave after midnight sometimes. The manager checked on me after the third day I was there. He was amused by the project and told me to let him know if I need anything. Technically the parking lot sign says Customer Parking Only, and all the building materials definitely qualified me as a customer! I’ve had a few cops check on me. They were all cool about it and amused by the school bus tiny house project. There was one cop who was kind of aggressive at first but the bulldog, Roscoe, used his bulldog charm to disarm the cop. Parking authority has made me move it from a few spots.
YDD: Speaking of your dogs, do they enjoy the lifestyle?
MM: Roscoe and lady do like it. They got to spend lots of time playing in the rivers this summer. I improvised a few work/camp sites along random rivers in Oregon. We get to spend a lot of time together. I pretty much take them everywhere with me. Although I do get nervous leaving them alone. When I do leave them in the bus I use a set of Motorola two way radios as an improvised baby monitoring system for them. I did have to use a lot of propane this winter to keep Roscoe warm. He is getting older and doesn’t respond well to the cold. My bulldog was a little more alert and on guard in the beginning. You could tell in the beginning that they felt like we should be going home at some point.
YDD: Have you made any friends who also live the nomadic lifestyle?
MM: I have made a couple friends living this unconventional lifestyle. Even a few people that were converting school buses and shuttle buses while living in them. I’ve also come across a lot of people who were forced into the “#vanlife” because of high rent prices. I’ve started dating a little more since the bus is to a respectable point. The bus project seems to be useful for dating, which I find amusing. It reminds me of the Bower Birds dating strategy.
YDD: Now that work on the bus is near complete, what are your immediate plans?
MM: I’m going to travel around Oregon/Washington this summer and look for a piece of land to buy and set up a homestead. The bus will eventually act as a cabin with the benefit of being moveable if circumstance or opportunity demands it.
Our thanks to Matarrese for taking the time to speak to us. To follow up or garner further information on The Bus Experience, visit the project’s website. Michael Matarrese’s web design work can be found at EcomWebDesigner.com.
Be sure to share this story with any of your family and friends who have a taste for the open road.