So in the mean time I did another through bus search and came across a few things. None of them are perfect but they are probably all in better shape than problem bus. I don't know how far any of these options will go cause they all kind of have red flags, but worth an email to the owners. Actually on second thought I think one is a real option and the other two are 'well, might as well try' options.
Bus no. 1
Airport shuttle bus! Not quite as cute from the outside, but I guess that can be fixed with some creative painting. The owner has been replying to my texts and telling me its in really good condition other than the paint being ugly outside and the door not locking. Runs great. Tires are good. Breaks are good. No rust. It is on the high side of price, $2,900. It is also probably on the limit of distance I can travel at the time to fetch it, like 2 hours away. This is the real option.
Bus no. 2
This bus looks huge. o.O But I guess beyond that its pretty stylish and has already been converted (though needing a lot of aesthetic work). The owner just listed it as cash or trade. No number. I threw out $2,500. I'll probably get turned down, but might as well try.
Bus no. 3
I know, this one is really a stretch, but apparently under all that dirt it runs! The ad was a bit vague so I mostly just emailed for info. Its ridiculously cheap (I'm growing less confident that it runs). Anyway we'll see what info I get!
In other news I'm sighing and wishing I had more money I haven't done the in depth budget post but here is the gist. I want to spend less than $3,000 on the bus itself. That will hopefully leave me with $1,000 ish for the initial renovations. More if I'm ridiculously good about saving in the next few months. The ideal situation is finding a bus for half that and having more money for the renovations/driving it to Berkeley/bus repairs. There are so many perfect buses out there for $5,000. I am stubborn and don't want to wait longer than summer to buy my bus.