Durban family trades bus life for regular home - 2 years later

The Jooste family has moved out of their bus home but vows to live the nomadic life again. Picture: Supplied

The Jooste family has moved out of their bus home but vows to live the nomadic life again. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 25, 2023


A Durban family who has been living in a bus for the past two years has reluctantly traded in their wheels for a traditional brick-and-mortar house.

But this is just a temporary stop and they don’t regret any part of their decision to embrace the tiny living trend in a mobile home.

They are already eyeing out potential vehicles for the next leg of their journey towards the free, sustainable lifestyle they desire but, for now, need to just put the plans on hold for a bit.

Emotions ran high as the Jooste family dove ‘Rolling Mirth’ – or ‘the bus’ as they affectionately referred to their home – to her new owner this week, but they take comfort knowing that someone else will be able to enjoy her as much as, if not more, than they did.

Liezel Jooste says the decision to go back into a brick-and-mortar house was not an easy one to make, and that the family “agonised” about it.

“We were very reluctant to make the change. Sadly due to a few changes in circumstances – some being health conditions that need to be managed, another being wanting to help our son get on his feet and move onto his own journey in life, as well as a sadder turn of events – we finally took the decision that we would have to take a break from the bus life.”

However, there were certain pre-requisites to making the move, such as finding a home that was not in the city but was close to the ocean.

“It had to be a calm and peaceful place, but still close enough to things we need and the wonders of nature. We did not want to lose the relaxed yet adventurous feel we grew to love in the bus. This was a very important factor in the decision.”

The children also had specific requirements of the new property and life within it.

“The kids will miss the bus. They really loved living in it but are excited to have a little more space. Our son is at the stage where he is getting ready to go out on his own and our daughter is at the typical teenage stage where she wants just a little more stuff than we had space for in the bus.”

However, they also had a list of ‘must haves’ for the move and were not willing to give up their bus home unless all the boxes were ticked. Thankfully, the family found a property that meets all their needs, and this will make the transition a little easier.

Looking back though, they do not regret moving into the bus, not even for a millisecond.

“We loved the bus. It was the best decision we ever made.”

The Jooste family - Jacques, Colby, Liezel, and Calisra - when they took delivery of their bus at the beginning of 2021. Picture: Supplied

Bus life: Best experiences and lessons learned

Getting closer as a family and enjoying so much quality time together is one of the huge blessings bus life provides, Jooste says. In addition, having just about everything almost within arm's length comes in very handy.

“Not being wasteful is something that now comes naturally to us and we don’t find it difficult to manage with limited water or resources.

“Not attaching much value to material things is also amazing. Living with less, you learn to appreciate the things that are most important in life, and this is one of the things I am most grateful for, that, as a family, we could move even more into knowing what actually matters. It’s a lesson that can never be taken away and one that makes life so much richer.”

Jooste, her husband Jacques, and two children, Colby, 19, and Calisra, 14, also learned a lot while turning the bus into their home.

Although there were no negatives about living in the bus, she says keeping things organised can present a few challenges as one thing out of place can make it look extra messy. Plus, smaller spaces definitely need regular sweeps.

Looking ahead to life in a brick-and-mortar home

“We are rather apprehensive to move back into a traditional house. We have been living small for so long that it is rather daunting to think there will be so much space. It is going to take some time to get used to.”

The family is also curious to see how they can implement all the lessons they learned on the bus, in the new house. Being used to conserving resources though will make it much easier for them to keep their living costs down.

“We are also expanding our knowledge in foraging and self-sustenance, and will be using this time to develop that skill set,” Jooste adds.

Bus life holds the key to their dream future

Even though the bus life is over for now, the family has no plans to give up on their dreams and will “definitely” live mobile again.

“We just want to get our son on his feet, and probably our daughter too, and then will get cracking on the new mobile house. We have actually already started looking at different vehicles with this in mind.

“Our plans to travel and live the nomadic life have not changed at all. The move to a traditional house is just a temporary stop along the way to give us time to get everything aligned for the next adventure.”

Reflecting on their first ‘building’ experience, Jooste says there are some things they will do differently with their next mobile home. While it was great being able to design and build their bus home with their specific needs in mind, she says one never really knows how everything will work until actually living in the space. Therefore, for the next build, the family will change and tweak a few things to make the space work better for their needs.

One of these changes will be extra counter space in the kitchen, while another will be a little extra room in the shower area.

“A skylight would also be great. We wanted that in the first one, but time, sadly, did not allow it to happen, so I think next time we would like to have more time on the build itself as well. We enjoyed doing the first build and we not only want to have that same feeling with the next one, but an even better experience.”

The type and size of the vehicle is also something that will be taken into consideration – “something perhaps a little smaller than the bus we had, but still bigger than a van”.

Jooste notes that there will also be less clutter in the next mobile home as they kept stuff that they never actually needed.

“We are excited to see what this chapter in our journey brings but will not take our eyes off the prize. The end goal will always remain the same – freedom to live and be ourselves without having four walls to hold us back.”

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