sarah stephen

  1. Tell us your story - how did you get to where you are now?

I guess my story starts 4 years ago in August, when I hit bottom. I was in struggle town and at my lowest point ever.

I had experienced five house moves in two years, I’d left a significant relationship, had a back injury that led to two job losses and had been unemployed for almost 18 months.

That day in August, I had just signed up to Centrelink and realized that what they were going to give me wouldn’t even cover my rent in the share house I was in. I had no idea what I was going to do and I was just sobbing at my dining table.


I was still on meds because of my back and I poured them all out and thought, I could just go to sleep and not wake up. I could do that.sarah stephen 1

Every day of the week I’m grateful my dog needed a wee. She came and sat beside me whining to get out the back door and as soon as I got up to let her out, ‘bus home’ arrived in my consciousness like a lightening bolt.

I quickly cleared up all the pills and frantically Googled ‘bus home’ to see if it was a thing.

It sure was. A beautiful 1976 Leyland for $10k was the first bus conversion I ever saw. I still have a picture of it in my scrapbook.

Everything just clicked and made sense and I knew that this was my way out. The way I would save my own life. So, I wrote myself a to do list that night.

  1. Get any job
  2. Move to a house with a big enough driveway for a bus
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Learn to drive a bussarah stephen 2
  5. Buy and convert a bus

Two weeks later I had a temp job which later led to a permanent role.

Two months later, I had saved enough money for a bond and found a house with a big enough driveway for a bus.

Four months later, I started driving lessons and six months after I wrote this list, I passed my driving test.

By the following October just 14 months after my darkest moment, my beautiful bus was on my driveway.

I named her Purpose because she gave me it and she’s affectionately known as Mrs P.

sarah stephen 3

  1. What have been some of the challenges you have faced along the way and how have you overcome them?

There have been so many incredible challenges and if I had to boil it down, I’ve overcome them because I have a deep down knowing that anything is possible.

I mean, I bought a bus and couldn’t drive (I still don’t know how to drive her yet). I had no building skills. I had no idea how I was going to create my own home, I just knew from the moment the idea arrived that it was right. Completely crazy but totally right.


I find that people accept and buy into the energy you bring. My excitement and joy and enthusiasm shone out of me and I think it just intoxicated everyone I came in contact with.

sarah stephen 4

I was loaned tools and friends showed me how to use them. I mean literally I had no experience, no skills, no tools and I also had very little money but I was utterly determined.

From a practical standpoint, I did a month long spending freeze which taught me several important things.


Number one, it showed me how much I could survive on vs what I was spending. So my take home pay at the time after tax was $43k a year. Almost half of that ($17k) went directly to rent and utilities. I did a complete lifestyle inventory and reduced as much of my outgoings as possible until I could comfortably put the $900 disposable income I had every month into the conversion.


sarah stephen 5It wasn’t easy… I sacrificed a lot. I didn’t go to one of my closest friend’s weddings. I didn’t go out. I didn’t eat out. I meal planned and went without stuff for over a year but it was so worth it.

From a more personal growth and even spiritual perspective, I learned how to transform fear into wonderful.

There is something magnificent about physically building something from nothing. From seeing something in your mind’s eye start appearing in front of you. From taking on external challenges like sanding the roof of a bus for example, and it being the vehicle (pardon the pun) for your inner work.

I learned a lot about myself during the build and as the bus came to life, so did I.

  1. How have you been able to commercialise your passion?

This side of things took a long time actually and very frustratingly, as I was so desperate to find my Purpose and find a way to leave my day job and do something meaningful with my work and life.

I tried a few things along the way like being a virtual assistant as I’d been in admin for over two decades. I then moved into SMM and then content creation but nothing really clicked until I was able to articulate my Purpose.

‘To live with more intention and help others do the same’.

This is what I’m here to do. This is my vehicle for change. And so now, I coach other freedom seekers. I write and speak on intentional living and I’m about to launch my Life Off Grid Academy which will help other women build a life and business with intention.

  1. What's next?

Well, I actually just got married and we bought a little piece of off grid heaven up in QLD, where we plan to build a permaculture garden to grow our own food and build some tiny house structures.

Our 5 year plan is to re-wild part of the property, plant as many natives as we can and run self sufficiency retreats.

We’re currently in the US for a couple of months where I’m speaking at a few tiny house festivals and enjoying some travel.

About Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
Lighthouse has a strong track record of supporting entrepreneurs, researchers and inventers on the path from concept to commercialisation. Since July 2008, Lighthouse has worked with over 990 distinct enterprises and provided group and peer based services to over 3400 enterprises and individuals. For over five years Lighthouse has successfully delivered business advice, education, mentorship and networking opportunities to help these businesses commercialise their ideas and grow their companies. Lighthouse also delivers programs such as the ACT Microcredit Program for the ACT Government. Visit for more information.