Nomadic Community Living in a Bus in New York City

Nomadic Community Living in a Bus in New York City

I hit the road at 17, just kind of wanted
to do my own thing. My mom calls me her Gypsy Child. In order to live in these
different places I’ve had to live very economically and I found that living in
RVs, sailboats, buses have all been very cheap and affordable and made my gypsy
life possible. I’ve lived in seven sailboats, six RVs, and now one bus so
total of fourteen mobile homes in my lifetime so far. It’s definitely a
lifestyle that fits my, fits my life. I mean I’ve always been mobile and to be
able to bring my house with me everywhere I go, it’s kind of an amazing
thing. It’s not gonna end. I’m already looking at my next sailboat so. So this is Becky. She’s a 2000
international school bus that we’ve converted into our home/Airbnb. Bus
is pretty plain right now, very white, but we actually have a graffiti artist
who’s coming out and he’s going to paint an awesome mural that has our logo on it.
We call ourselves the Long Haulers. Some damage that we had apparently from a
gunshot when it was in service in the Bronx. Right now we’re parked underneath
the overpass of Riverside Drive in New York City. We picked this spot because
it’s kind of incognito. We try and stay as under the radar as possible and the
parking was just great, fits us and our vehicles. Some tips for finding parking
in the city definitely would be try and find something away from apartment
buildings and residences. You tend to get a lot of flack from people when they see
you living in your house. I don’t know if it’s jealousy because they’re paying
$1,400 a month for their small studio and we’re parked right out front on the
same street for next to nothing. We parked next to a construction site
because there’s absolutely nobody here except for the construction workers
during the day and also we have a little bit of shelter under the bridge here for
the snow, which when the snow piles on the roof it gets pretty dang cold.
Turns the bus into a freezer so that’s pretty much the outside why don’t we go
inside and take a look? Right when you walk in, you see we kind
of have like our storage closet, keeps kind of all of our stuff. Also our two
solar panels there that kind of keep the batteries charged and keep us with power.
We have the closet behind me. Mostly the girls keep all their stuff in here, you
see we’ve got a few things here and there mixed in, but the girls keep all their
stuff in here. The boys we share the dresser and also some under storage
under the sofa as well. We have what we lovingly call The Perch. This is where
either Jen or Cara normally sleep and then under we have more storage, mainly
the girls again, they like to have a lot of stuff so there’s a whole section here
for storage for the girls and then also all of the important things that run the
bus. We call this the garage. It’s got the generator, it’s got the gas tank. This
runs all of our heat and everything for the bus so it’s a 30 pound propane tank
it lasts us about a week depending on how cold it is. And the hose just kind
of runs under the carpet here over to our heater. Like I’ve been saying we do
have television, we have Roku, we have you know everything that you kind of have at
home. This is the heater which keeps the bus warm. It’s a simple gas heater that we
bought at one of the hardware stores here in town. Got our dishes for our
cooking then of course I’ve got the breakfast set up for our Airbnb guests.
I’ve got cereals and oatmeals and teas and coffees and hot chocolate and all
that good stuff. This is generally the bed that the Airbnb guests get. It
generally is empty except for our guests and we all kind of cram into the
living area either on the floor, cram onto the pullout.
We’ve even slept two deep on The Perch before as well. We just make room
wherever we have to and and we can accommodate our guests and keep them
nice and comfortable even if we’re not. I’ve got my Wi-Fi set up here. It
shows everybody the Wi-Fi code. My favorite thing about the bus I found
these little things on Amazon and I thought they were just the greatest
thing in the world. Each one of these has their own battery and its own solar
panel that we’ve mounted on the roof so they keep themselves charged. They run
well. Every now and then when it’s a cloudy day we also have the issue of
keeping these charged, but for the most part they do better than our regular
solar panels so we like these a lot these are amazing. Over here you see my
brother/bus mate Ryan. He’s enjoying a nice lunch while we’re doing
the tour here. He stays with us. He’s one of the five permanent residents although
he travels a lot so sometimes he’s not here at all, but you guys happened to
come in. I actual get a hotel a lot. He likes to rub it in our faces that he’s sitting in nice
warm hotel rooms with room service or whatever. With a bath, a bottle of Rose, rose petals. It’s always lovely wherever I go. And Ryan is sitting on the
pullout sofa. It’s a little bit of a process. We have to move our little
blocks out because we’ve raised it up to have more storage and it quickly drops
down into a bed and like I said we’ve, we fit up to four people on this bed just
kind of criss cross back and forth however we fit. We fit two in the small
bed up in the top and there’s never any more than two people in that bed. We
generally try to use the bathroom at our gym or our local park or grocery or
wherever we’re parked by, but in the event of an emergency we do have a toilet
on the bus. It’s just a small Porta Potti. The girls
tend to use it more than the guys do but it is there in case we need it and for
the guests in case they need it, you know, you never know, when you got to go, you
got to go. Other than that like I said we shower at the gym. We use the gym
bathrooms. At first we had a lot of encounters with
police. The bus is registered in South Carolina as a bus. If it was a motor home
they would be able to harass us, but because we registered it as a bus we
have the legal standing where we can tell them, “no, this is, this is a bus”, and
they pretty much have to leave us alone. I believe that the city is very against
us being in this thing, but we know laws. My brother was a criminal justice major
and so when they came at us with some crazy-ass stuff that wasn’t true we went
straight to the deputy inspector and read them the Riot Act. Since then
they’ve been very helpful. We do occasionally get a road cop who wants to
be a badass and still tells us that there’s been complaints or something on
the bus which we know how to check so. Every time they say that there’s a
complaint we call the deputy inspector and see if indeed that was the case.
Most times it was not. Now we are kind of in talks with the deputy inspector. She’s
been helping us try and you know know the laws that we have here in this
general vicinity and make sure that we adhere to them without breaking any laws.
So they’ve been really helpful in trying to keep us legal and not break
the laws, but inevitably we do have to because the law pretty much states
that you can’t sleep in your vehicle at night despite that law we still are in
the bus every night.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. There is NO WAY anyone would rent that for a night while he and his family sleep on the same bus, right?

  2. Dylan Magaster – I just found your channel and all your videos. Holy cow thanks so much for the perspective, so stinkin awesome

  3. I'm going to do one of these but with a decommissioned city bus it's going to look nice and real but on the inside it's going to be an amazing apartment with hard wood textured vinyl panels, a tiled shower, compost toilet, bed room with queen sized mattress, low space consumption bunk beds, sprint hotspot service for adequate wifi, kitchen( with: small microwave, induction burners,propane oven, sink, and mini fridge/freezer), 12 high efficiency solar panels, hybrid engine, back up propane generator, living room (with television and fold out couch), fold out dining table across from couch, a solid wall with a door(to separate the renovated part from the entry area), then the drivers area will have an original passengers seat to the back right of the drivers seat with seat belts(so people can sit upfront while we're moving) and a vertical bike mount for a bike with an electric and ethanol motor, heavy black canvas curtains (for insulation and privacy), and a deadbolt for the door it's going to take all of the money I'll get from birthdays, Christmas's, jobs, etc. and all my weekends until I graduate but it's going to be so worth It (~17,000 usd + plus trade in value of my car for money to upgrade the engine) to not worry about rent or utilities or finding a convenient place to live or enduring a 45 minute commute (The only bills will be insurance, gas, 35 bucks for the hotspot, Netflix and food)

  4. few things, ppl ask what a life is this..those who ask, should better look into their lifes and believe me they have to look a lot..I like it, its a bit crowded , but I dont have to life there, so its not my business, the Bus registration is kind of interesting, but what does it do good if you legally cant live in the bus..but WTF ..I like it and I follow you..

  5. Does your insurance company know that you registered it as a bus not a motor home and are sleeping in it every night? Would you still be insured in case something happened at night while you slept it it??

  6. I can relate .I've owned and lived in a number of  mobile homes ,motorhomes and a 1969 Bluebird school bus. I think your right about their being a little bit of spite amongst the landlord who don't profit off your lifestyle. and jealously from  renters who subject themselves to paying outrageous prices for their living space and expect you to live like them. instead of freeing themselves of this costly expense that eats up a big part of their income. More power to the Nomad. who stand for freedom and free living.

  7. This just seems like the headline of a terrible news story about a fire. That tank isn't a good idea. I really like this guy (and his roommate we saw on camera) and I would hate to hear that anything has happened to them.

  8. hello, I too live in a "skoolie", in Brooklyn,
    could you tell me how to find out the laws so as not to be harassed by the cops, and where did you get your bus painted, and by whom?
    Thank you for this video

  9. He has gorgeous eyes! I wonder how he dates while on that thing!? "If the bus is rockin'…don't come a knocking?" LOL

  10. Not to be too negative but it's like the opposite of a Tardis! It looks huge on the outside and tiny inside.

  11. Registering as a bus was pure genius! I love when people share their life experiences, hoping to spare others from hassles and heartaches. God bless y'all. Great watch. My prayers are with y'all'😇

  12. So wait… air BnB people actually come to NY and sleep in a bus with a bunch of random people they don't know? WTF?

  13. they could probably share rent between the 5 people of them and find a cosy apartment in NYC. may be small but can't be any smaller than this van they are using. plus they would have a proper bathroom and kitchen. might not be as cheap as the van but the fact they pay for gym membership to begin with, i rather pay a bit more for comfort and convenience. and if they really want to, they could rent out a bit of their apartment for airbnb.

  14. Dude I was gonna ask you how are you pulling that off in the city, New York city at that? Big "props" to you for being able to do that so far!👍👍👍👍 And when you talked about spending 1400 a month for rent, I was like "hell we did 20 yrs ago!!"😀 Good Luck on hanging out there for as long as you can!!

  15. who would want to stay on this bus ? I mean if its just me yea but I'm not staying with 5 other ppl .

  16. the key to stay low key not to have graffiti or colorful bus and not to get attention but good luck you guys look like nice guys but then who knows these days

  17. All of you people commenting that this looks "disgusting and filthy"… You have no idea where these people came from. Some of the people living in this bus may have come from bad home situations, abusive relationships, etc. They could be seeking love and friendship from this group of people on this bus because when you live with people for long enough, it gets a sort of family dynamic. You seriously need to get out more if you've never seen a traveling young "street kid" with a bus full of others that is trying to find a better life. This may not be your cup of tea but to just scoff off someone's lifestyle as disgusting just because there's a toilet in there? Is appalling. Get off of your high horse. This is no different than an RV where some models you have to physically pick up the toilet and dump the waste. I have seen many traveling busses of travelers, hippies, whatever you call them that offer open doors to whoever needs a place to stay and a way to get away. You don't know someone's situation. So don't judge someone or their situation because you have not walked their shoes. Enough said.

  18. I'm 54 and while I couldn't live in a bus with 5 people I say if they are happy and not hurting anyone or pushing an agenda on anyone, have at it. I would stay there one or 2 nights just for the experience and make some friends. The 2 things that would stop me is the generator and propane heater inside the bus. One night someone is going to sleep permanently.

  19. It's important to point out that that many people in a bus is much more viable in a place like NYC than it is anywhere else. And that it's likely that like the second guy in the video, many people who live like that just need a place to sleep without having to work crazy hours to keep the lights on.

  20. is it illegal to live out of a van or bus cuz i've seen a couple people mention trying to keep a low profile

  21. Not to be negative but they could of made this bus soooo much better with shower and toilet if you watch school bus life you know what I'm talking about

  22. OMG! How did I miss this video? Daniel was right in my backyard. I know that area well. I'm sure he's gone from there location by now, but I love that he took the chance. LOTS of New Yorkers are starting to get on board with this lifestyle, but I can't do videos about it, because the residents would come down hard on them by complaining all the time.

  23. I was parked near you guys on Riverside last month! I was living on Riverside in my Prius until Nov 1. I saw you and started to leave a note on your window, but I was leaving in a couple of days anyway. Living in my car worked out really well. Peaceful area where you are.

  24. Any more than two people and this is questionable. However, if they were all friends traveling the country I’d understand

  25. american people : LAND OF THE FREE … do you really believe you re free ? Answer : heuuu no … these guys : hell yeah

  26. Correct me if i'm wrong, but it seems weird they can rent it out on airbnb and still only have it registered as a vehicle… seems problematic.

  27. Just wondering… Do you have the proper licensing to run a business on the bus?
    A Bed and Breakfast must meet many requirements to be open to the public.
    Do you have your license and Approval forms on display as required?

  28. I used to live nearby you! I finally made a YouTube video about it if anyone is interested. Just click my pic. I hope to meet you all when I am up there again! xo I see negative comments about living in a vehicle, but I must say I find living in a car in NYC much preferable to living in an apartment. I love it and am looking forward to being back!

  29. He's a naive, infantile, miscreant punk, thumbing his nose at the authorities. NYC really doesn't have a law against sleeping in your vehicle and the police don't harass us, unless we keep our vehicles in the same place for a week, in a crowded area or we taunt, make fun of, those who are in positions of government authority. If we mind our own business, don't thumb our noses at those who can make our lives miserable, flipping a bird at them, if we don't spray paint our vehicles with street graffiti, making it look like an ugly wall in an alley somewhere, then we're OK.

    But unfortunately, all of us nomads, that are quiet and don't start any trouble, have to deal with people like this, who make things difficult and complicated for everybody, due to their, stupidity, naivete, their immaturity, taunting and poking the dragon, is not a good idear, you know genius? Our urban nomadic tribe, minds its own business, stays under the radar and we don't appear in documentaries, making fun of police or authorities, that's freaking stupid and it can hurt all of us.

  30. Very interesting story. I’m not very familiar with this lifestyle. Can someone explain why he has had to go through so many boats and vehicles?

  31. I don't trust this guy,very weird arrangement.All these people living in bus is crazy,airing bus this guy is nuts.

  32. Nomadic communities are okay. Police helping a "gypsy child" stay legal is great. However, I do not understand how the Riot Act applies if the riot act does not exist in the United States National Government. I have a lack of understanding on how an long existing act from Great Britain applies here. This is America, not United Kingdom.

    Also, using these ginormous propane tanks every week is expensive. The busmates would be better off if they bought (or someone donated) a mini split for them. Mini split units are relatively small units that function as both air conditioners and heaters. You do not need to spend your money on weekly pounds of explosive gas. Plus, the propane tank should be kept further away from the generator and the bus heater because the gas tank is explosive and can just snap and blow up the entire bus into flames especially if two heat sources are right next to it. Safety above all!!!

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