Couple abandon traditional life and renovate £6k bus to live rent-free

A British-Australian couple have abandoned traditional life in favour of embracing an eco-friendly and minimalist lifestyle – and are now travelling across a continent together in a renovated bus.

Gareth Curno, 34, from England, is a musician and Samantha Mullavey, 32, from Australia is a painter, jeweller and photographer.

The couple first met at a house rental in Melbourne five years ago and started dating.

They travelled around the world together before ‘settling’ in Australia after their partnership visa was approved – although it’s not the settling down you may be thinking of.

In 2020, the couple purchased a 1989 Toyota Coaster bus for £6,508 ($12,000 AUD) and renovated the entire vehicle themselves – learning everything from YouTube videos.

The project came from a desire to live a minimalist lifestyle and to experience adventure and freedom to move around as they please.

‘It was a gradual transition over the years,’ Samantha told Jam Press.

‘Being from different countries we had been living from visa to visa as backpackers just to keep our relationship going.

‘We knew living in a bus would help us move around more easily, it didn’t restrict us work-wise and we could move to the job instead of relying on what was around us.

‘It also gives us the ability to decide where it is we want to settle down one day.’

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First, the couple stripped the bus down removing all the seats and handles, and also repaired any rusty spots, before sealing up small holes in the vehicle.

From there, Gareth and Samantha made a floor plan to map out the layout of the bus.

The bus already had a sink, a roof and some bed-framing, as the previous owner had begun converting it into a motor home, so they reused the equipment for themselves.

However, the duo custom-designed the interior, adding artistic touches such as a faux-stained glass window and a skylight to brighten up the living space.

The skylight opens up to a roof deck which they use for sunbathing and outdoor fishing in the summer.

Samantha and Gareth store water and outdoor gear under the bed, with overhead storage for clothes and toiletries.

The living space has a couch, a love seat, a mini-fridge and a table that pulls out from one of the drawers under the couple’s bed.

The entire bus renovation cost the couple just £3,796 ($7,000 AUD), taking a year to complete – and they couldn’t be happier with the final result, but it does come with its challenges.

Samantha said: ‘I probably struggle the most with it as I have a lot of hobbies that I insist come with us.

‘Our couch is full of art supplies, jewellery making tools, beads, basket weaving pine needles and we have a hula hoop that has been living in the bus since we left.

‘I swear Gareth could live out of a backpack and just have his guitar and he would be fine.

‘Like anything, you get used to it and forget what it was like before. It gives you more time to focus on relationships and things that are important to you.’

The pair, who sold their possessions before embarking on the bus project, try to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, with solar panels to create energy.

Their next thing is to build a solar shower they can use, as at the moment they have to stop at facilities on the go.

Sharing some advice for others who are considering taking on a bus renovation project, Samantha added: ‘There will always be things you would have done differently once you start living in it.

‘Just like moving into a house, it is an ongoing project and is always changing the longer you live there.

‘We add bits here and there whenever we see fit, but we are really happy with how it turned out. It feels like home.’

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