‘Let’s build it by hand!’ I didn’t know if we could do it. Now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.’: Couple converts shuttle bus into ‘home on wheels,’ ‘It was built with so much love’

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“Our story is kind of a long one, but it is the deepest and most genuine story either of us has ever experienced. We met about thirteen years ago, back in middle school. Austin and I met through my best friend he was dating at the time. Of course, like most middle school relationships, it was very short-lived, but he and I continued to stay in contact.

Every day after school we would walk to our parents’ cars together. The next year, he graduated up to high school as a freshman, but it didn’t stop him. Luckily, the middle school and high school were right across the street from one another, so he would walk over to sit and talk to my mom while they waited for me to get out of school. When I finally made it to high school, we made it ‘official’ and we were so in love! At the time, we weren’t going to the same high school, so it was a little difficult to see each other since neither of us could drive. After a few months, our relationship ended because a 15-minute drive to one another’s house just seemed too far at the time. (We still joke about it to this day!)

3 years later, Austin graduated and moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he received a full scholarship to play baseball at Columbus State University. Even though he was miles away, we couldn’t help but rekindle that flame. The timing just wasn’t right for either one of us. 5 years had passed, and on March 30, 2019, I received a text from Austin: ‘Happy Birthday!’ This was the first time I had spoken to him in 5 years! I replied, thanking him, and we planned to meet up to see what one another had been up to, and I kid you not, it was like those 5 years of separation never existed! It was so comfortable sitting there talking to him about everything we had issued during our time apart. I left his place that night with the biggest smile on my face, and I guess you could say the rest was history!

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

After he graduated from college, he moved back home to work full-time for his business. Turns out, it was 15 minutes away from where I lived at the time with my parents while I was finishing school at Georgia Gwinnett College. After a few months of us dating and traveling, he convinced me to move in with him. I said, ‘Yes!’ without hesitation, and can say this was the greatest decision I ever made.

Austin:

I was transitioning out of college at 21 and working tirelessly to be a successful entrepreneur. I was living in an in-law suite for the next 3 years, 2 with just our dog, Zeus, and this past year with Emily. Emily and I have dated a few times in our younger years, but we always created distance between us. I guess intuitively, we understood we had some growing to do and experiences to have before reconnecting.

I woke up in the middle of the night (roughly 2 years ago from now) from a lucid dream with a vivid picture of Emily. I personally do a lot of energy work and self-practice, and I have learned to trust my intuition and self-guidance. I ended up asking her to come over for dinner and we stayed up till 4 a.m., reconnecting right where we left off. It was as if I was instantly home and I knew she was the one. Emily expresses genuine and true unconditional love to every being she comes in contact with. I am so blessed to surround myself every day with someone who radiates positivity and pure happiness for daily life.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

When I reconnected with Emily, it was interesting to observe her exploration of personal development. She had a tremendous desire to better herself and those around her. Within the first few months of us dating, she shed some habits which no longer served her, and it created an amazing upward spiral I get to be a part of. I have always wanted to travel. Personally, I am so thrilled to explore this life with my family. As a kid, I would dream of going to the tallest mountains, the deserts, forests, etc. As I grew up, I heard numerous adults hint, ‘Travel while you are young!’ Well, this is what I am doing, or hoping to, if at some point this COVID-19 thing phases out.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

Right when the news broke out about the virus, we began to look at plane tickets since we knew they would be so cheap. Both of us had been out of the country but never with each other. We finally found a price we liked for a plane heading to Puerto Rico. We immediately jumped on the idea and purchased the tickets. A week later, our flight was canceled, and we were out of luck. In college, I would watch a few YouTube videos or social media influencers getting flown out to travel or do a photo shoot. I believe this ran me into van life and people who travel to exotic places for very little expense. A minimalistic lifestyle fits us right now. Both of us are entrepreneurs who thrive in harmonious environments.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

Over the past 3 years, I have been laying a foundation for this opportunity to hit the road and travel. I worked in a basement and isolated myself from distractions to now be able to do what I love for my business, while also seeing the world. We are thrilled to share our experience and story on our YouTube Channel and our Instagram page. I believe we will be looking to travel to all major national parks. Depending on the travel band restrictions, after 2 years of shuttle bus life, we will more than likely look to take on van life in Europe. But, within our 2 years here, we would like to cover the U.S., Canada, and make our way up to Alaska.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

We intend on heading out to Arizona in January for an event called Skoolapalooza. It is a bus/van meetup area in the desert. An opportunity to meet people in the community, get some good recommendations of places to go, and showcase our new bus, of course! When Emily and I both agreed to live in a bus/van, we had to then decide which style and if we were building it ourselves or paying for it to be done. Usually, buses/vans built out cost roughly $50,000. (After building one firsthand, I would say it is still a deal for the amount of work that goes into it.) Emily said, ‘Let’s do it by hand!’ I said, ‘Let’s just buy one.’ Well, I somehow let this crazy woman convince me to buy a $10,000 bus and think we could convert it to a home on wheels.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily
Courtesy of Austin and Emily

Now looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I am blessed she guided us to do it ourselves. While I sit here right now, typing this up in the complete build, I have tears in my eyes knowing how much love this bus was built with. I mean, for sure there were some f-bombs and screams released while drilling 267 self-tapping screws into the ceiling and walls. I remember when Emily and I started the conversion, a piece of plywood cost $15. Now, it currently costs $48. Our budget was $25,000 and I believe we are at $24,878.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

We do still need to buy some new off-roading tires and a ladder. There was a point halfway through the build Emily and I spent 45 minutes crying in the middle of Home Depot. My exact words were, ‘I just don’t know if we can do this.’ For me, I am very optimistic and do not believe in the c-word (can’t). We wanted to move in by November, and I just could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Demolition was defeated because you almost are working backward. But we agreed we needed a firm foundation to build on and know every square inch of our home. And oh boy, have we.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

Emily’s strength in the conversion was keeping me organized and buying the supplies we needed. I think I built a majority of the structures. The amount of knowledge and experience we gained by doing everything ourselves is mind-blowing. The solar system and electrical was one of the more difficult learning curves. I am happy to know how to do it now, though. We are thrilled we were able to not only come in right at budget but have placed everything we wanted into our new home. Emily loves the white farmhouse sink. I love the whitewash boards and how the burn underneath has a hint of blue. Makes for great video and photography lighting. The spalted-maple live-edge counters are to die for. Emily did an amazing job! We call the overall design ‘BujeeBoho.’

Courtesy of Austin and Emily
Courtesy of Austin and Emily

We are currently in the North Georgia Mountains on a weekend trial, as we are still working out the flow and adjustment of living in a bus. It is a little more difficult than one may think. You simply don’t recognize just how much water you use in a single day until you only have 40 gallons to last you a week off-grid. During the week, we are parking the vehicle either at Emily’s parents’ house or at my office.

Courtesy of Austin and Emily

Look, love is an experience defined by each individual. However, Emily and I resonate and vibrate at the same frequency and radiate a united expression of love. We hope to leave a positive impact on anyone we come in contact with. This world is filled with enough hatred and negativity. We consciously choose to be beacons of light and contribute to bettering the collective’s life experience. We have much in the works for our business, Awaken Daze.”

Courtesy of Austin and Emily
Courtesy of Austin and Emily

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Austin and Emily of Awakening to Better Daze from Georgia. You can follow their journey on Instagram, YouTube, and Patreon. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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