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.