Where can you find a used school bus to buy? For us the journey started by searching the usual places, craigslist and google. We looked for a long time, maybe over a year. We did see used school bus dealers and private sellers. In the end we ended up using an online auction.
Craigslist is a good place to start looking. It will give you an idea of what the market is for used school buses in your area. For us there was not a lot available locally. We would have to travel to either Miami or Tampa. We are located about directly between these two larger cities. The problem was in those markets the prices were higher. It was a classic Catch 22, to find a bus we had to shop where they were more expensive.
We then turned to Google searching. This was not as successful as Craigslist. Most of what we found were used bus dealers. Again they were located in far away towns and the prices were much higher.
It seems that used buses were mostly located far away and the average price was $6000. The few local used school buses being sold by private people were not in the best of shape. You might get a better quality used bus at a dealer, but you are going to pay for it.
Then one day I was watching one of my favorite YouTube channels, “Dirt Every Day” and they did an episode on a Stewart & Stevenson M1078 LMTV 4×4 Cargo Truck. They got this awesome truck from a website called GovPlanet.
GovPlanet® is the place for state, local and federal agencies, including military, to sell equipment online. They sell all kinds of crazy things for cheap money. I started surfing the site and found they sell school buses. I had no idea the military used school buses, but they do.
GovPlanet® posts a lot of photos of all the items they sell, usually around 60 photos and sometimes even videos. They also write up a good report about the vehicle. They really do give you all the information you need to decide if you want to purchase sight unseen.
We Bid on a Used School Bus
The bus we chose was located in Jacksonville Florida which is about 350 miles away from us. It was as close as we were gonna get. The bus was white, which is a big plus for living in Florida. It also meant we didn’t need to paint it, at least not right away. It was an ex-Navy bus so it didn’t have the School bus safety equipment, another plus because we didn’t have to remove it all. The clincher for us was the opening bid, $800. After such a long time looking at used school buses in the $5000 to $6000 range this was too tempting to pass up.
We entered our highest bid of $1200 and we waited. The online auction is 5 minutes long. The bidding process is automated to start with all bids being made prior to the start of the auction. We started the bidding at $800 and the minutes ticked off. It appeared no one else was bidding on the bus. Just before the 5 minutes were up someone else entered a bid. The automation leapt into action, the auction went into 2 minute overtime.
The highest bidder flip-flopped back and forth. We were on top with a bid of $1200 and only 45 seconds left! Each second seemed like an hour. The final few seconds ticked off, the excitement filled stress turned to jubilation, it was over, we now owned a used school bus.