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Often times, aesthetics take a back seat once our projects reach functionality. This is precisely what happened with our bus build once we moved out of Tampa and to our new small town of Marion, NC. It was livable, so we were living in it! We never did get around to installing cabinet faces in the kitchen, adding drawer pulls, or finishing the aluminum walls in the living room but we had shifted our focus to establishing our business in a brand new town so we didn't sweat it!
In February of 2015, we found a cheap warehouse for rent on Craigslist (don’t try this at home, kids) which we parked the bus behind and where we lived for a full year. Don’t worry, we checked into the legality of this before moving all our belongings and our whole shop 583 miles north. The bus maxed out at 60 mph on the trip up and got a little sketchy on the windy mountain roads but luckily, Joey is a natural-born bus driver and got us to our new home safe and sound.
Bus life was interesting, to say the least. Despite having only 210 square feet of living space (which included the kitchen, toilet, shower, bedroom and living room), we had over 60 friends and family members come to stay with us over a year span. We learned quickly that the bus for the basics: sleeping, showering and eating. But this is not a necessarily a bad thing when you live in heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and "getting out" means regular waterfall hikes and mountain views for miles! In addition to the bus, we had some extra space in our warehouse that we converted into a larger living room which was very convenient for parties and movie nights.
We lived on the bus from June 2015 – October 2017. Tiny house life was grand, until winter rolled around. There were a few mornings we woke up to icicles on the inside of the windows. There were not enough space heaters or electric blankets in the world to keep our FL blood from freezing that winter. The adjustment was certainly a challenge but we learned a lot from it. In addition, we found out quickly that condensation is a BIG issue when you’re living in a metal box that’s not properly insulated. In retrospect, if we could go back, we would tear out the majority of the windows to help with this issue. Besides the wintertime trials and the occasional leak, the bus treated us well and kept us comfortable and allowed us to save for future investments.
After living in the bus for a year, we started looking for real estate to purchase to expand Turtle Labs and our living quarters. This process moved way quicker than we could have imagined! By March of 2016, we had purchased a building one block from downtown Marion, which we moved into a few months later. We parked the bus in the open basement under our new warehouse, with one inch to spare!! We continued to live in the bus for another year and a half while we outfitted our new space.