• After a year of living on the road in her converted school bus, retiree Keri Gallioux is selling her home on wheels.
  • In just one year, Gallioux said she had to replace just about every major part in the school bus, prompting her to sell her car and take out a loan.
  • She said she maxed out her credit cards and is now in $10,000 worth of debt. 
  • The financial burden put a toll on Gallioux's mental and emotional health, especially since she had to deal with the issues alone. 
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Keri Gallioux was driving her converted school bus through Yellowstone National Park in Montana when the vehicle lost power. 

The retiree, who's in her 60s, was stranded on a two-lane road in the middle of the national park. She had to wave the cars to go around her, and once she got the bus to turn on again, Gallioux said she was forced to sleep on the side of the road. 

"It's not a lot of fun breaking down in public," she told Insider. "It was like, 'Well, what do I now?' It was the final straw."

In 2019, Gallioux retired from her job in the medical field and decided she wanted to travel around the country. She spent $45,000 converting a 1999 freight liner school bus into a tiny house with the help of a builder. But, in the past year while on the road, she said she slipped into $10,000 worth of debt after dealing with the surprise costs of tiny house living. 

Now she is giving up the schoolie lifestyle and selling her tiny house on wheels because of the surprise financial burden.

The financial burden of owning and maintaining a schoolie was too much for Gallioux

Gallioux understood there would be maintenance costs along the way. She was told a school bus like hers was built to travel hundreds of thousands of miles over the course of its life span, yet she kept breaking down on the road. 

"They said there would be work to be done on the bus, but I didn't realize I would be replacing all the major parts in the course of one year," she said. 

In the past year, she had to replace "pretty much everything under the hood," including the engine control module, the clutch fan, the master brake cylinder, the ABS sensor, the shocks, and the brake pads. 

"When you're looking at paying $3,000 or $4,000 for a single item, that's pretty overwhelming," she said. "Unfortunately, I didn't have $100,000 sitting in a bank account, so every time I went to a mechanic I was like, 'Oh my gosh, how am I going to pay for this?'" 

Since she couldn't get a job during the pandemic, Gallioux sold her car and took out a loan. She put the rest of the costs on credit cars, which are maxed out. Gallioux said she still owes $10,000. 

While Gallioux experienced one unforeseen cost of the movement, other tiny house owners who travel regularly have found that gas prices, the cost of towing a house, and paying for parking at campsites can get surprisingly expensive fast. 

"It just became too much to do," she said. 

The interior of Gallioux's schoolie.
Frank Olito/ Insider

Traveling with the school bus eventually took a toll on her emotional and mental health

After a full year of breaking down all over the US, Gallioux said she is constantly nervous something else will break. 

"Every time I drive, I get very, very anxious," she said. "My stomach gets upset. The anxiety of wondering when things would break down became too much."

However, Gallioux said she was uniquely qualified to deal with these issues because she is used to handling problems on her own. 

"I raised my kids on my own," she said. "You have to negotiate for child care, and now I'm negotiating with mechanics. It's not that different."

But she said not having a partner became difficult during the journey. 

"It is hard doing it alone," she said. "You don't have anyone to share the burden with. Everything is my responsibility, and sometimes, that's really exhausting."

The schoolie parked on the road.
Courtesy of Keri Gallioux

Gallioux is now moving on and selling her renovated school bus

In September, Gallioux put her schoolie up for sale for $63,000.

"There is a good chance that all will be good going forward, but I am emotionally and financially unable to continue to accept those risks," she said. 

She's now looking to purchase a trailer that will require less maintenance while on the road, but she chooses to reframe her experience with her schoolie as a positive one. 

"I don't look at this as any kind of failure. It's not," she said. "I realized a dream I had, I've been on the road for a year, and I think that's pretty successful. Everything changes. It's the right time, and it's the right decision."

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