Although living in the dorms or another form of on-campus housing for at least a year is, in my humble opinion, an invaluable part of the college experience, it’s not always in the cards for some students.
For Bard College sophomore Jonathan Von Reusner, continuing to live at home with his parents during his freshman year made the most sense given that he hails from Red Hook, New York, the sleepy Hudson Valley town (not the sleepy waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn) where Bard is located.
After a while, 19-year-old Von Reusner, understandably, got the itch to move out of his parent’s place but wanted to continue to maintain his off-campus residential status. Given that the tiny hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson essentially is Bard’s campus and the quaint surrounding towns aren’t exactly flush with affordable and student-friendly housing, Von Reusner turned to Craigslist — and not in search of rental housing in and around bucolic Dutchess County.
And so, in a move that that enabled Von Reusner to secure affordable off-campus housing and stop shacking up with his folks, he scored an old school bus, formerly a mobile used bookstore, for $2,500 from a Craigslist seller.
From there, Von Reusner sacrificed his spring break and spent, with no prior building or remodeling experience, a little over $3,000 converting the bus into his own collegiate digs — a mobile micro-home topped with a quartet of solar panels and featuring hardwood flooring; a kitchen with propane gas stove and mini-fridge; study area; and sleeping nook with a futon (love the recycled apple crate frame) in the rear of the bus. While there’s no bathroom aboard Von Reusner’s bus-bound bachelor pad, he takes full advantage of the school gym (and I assume his parents’ house) to shower and use the facilities.
Says Von Reusner of his 90-square-foot living arrangements in the latest video from faircompanies, which, by the way, was filmed by Bard student Elisa Caffrey: “For me, this was the cheapest and kind of coolest way for me to finally get out of my house and have my own place.”
While officials at Bard have no issue with Von Reusner parking his bus on campus during the day, Von Reusner can’t live in it due to “certain liability issues.” He explains: “They weren’t too keen on me living there so they made me move out.”
And so, for the time being, Von Reusner has parked the bus, with permission of course, on the grounds of Kunzang Palchen Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist center in Red Hook. From there, he bikes to and form the Bard campus for class.
“For $5,600 I really feel like that I was able to create something that I’ll be able to live in for quite a while,” says Von Reusner.
But for how long is “quite a while?”
“I guess, ultimately, I don’t want to live in this for the rest of my life, I don’t think,” continues Von Reusner. “But I want to continue my studies on to medical school. So while I’m a student, I assume I’m going to be pretty poor for quite a while …”
Von Reusner goes on to note that living with only the bare necessities and making do with a small living space has given him a sense of control that he was previously lacking and has allowed him with more room to breathe. “It’s a little counterintuitive but I think it’s true.”
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