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Van life: 10 important things to know before buying a van

By Marie-Pier Hamon – on in Cars
The "van life" has been in popular demand for a few years now. If you want to experience this way of life, here are some tips to know before buying a van.

Many people decide to buy a van and adopt the “van life”, a way of life that consists of living in your vehicle. Although purchasing a van can be expensive, there are many advantages. Indeed, you literally travel with your home, which is very practical if you want to spend all your time on the road, discovering the world. However, there are some things you should know before buying a van and trying the van life experience. Here are some important tips to know about this type of vehicle.

1 Think about the height of the roof of your vehicle

Although this may seem banal, the height of your van’s roof is very important. If you plan to use your vehicle only for travel and rest, a standard height may be perfectly suited to your needs. If, however, you decide to reside and live in your van, in short, to spend many hours there, try to opt for a vehicle with a high roof, otherwise you may find your days long and, above all, very uncomfortable.


2 Have a realistic budget when buying your van

You can find vans of all prices on the market. For example, you can find some with prices ranging from $1500 to $3000. However, expect to have a vehicle that is poorly maintained or has very high mileage. If you have a limited budget and want to have a van in good condition, but used, plan on $6,000 to $9,000. However, you will need to do regular mechanical maintenance to avoid breaking down at any time!


3 Learn the basics of vehicle maintenance

Most people who adopt the “van life” opt for a used vehicle. However, when you think of used vehicles, you necessarily think of more maintenance time to put on them. To save on mechanical breakdown repair costs, you can always learn the basics of vehicle maintenance. This way, you won’t have to spend a fortune with the mechanic if you suffer damage while you’re on the road.


4 Think about maintenance costs

Obviously, the maintenance of a used vehicle sometimes requires replacing some automotive parts. It is important that you consider including the cost of parts in your budget. The older your vehicle is, the more difficult it may be to find certain parts. In addition, imported parts can also be a challenge to find.


5 Say goodbye to comfort

Choosing the “van life” looks really fun but is it really the case? It is essential that you take the time to question your tolerance for discomfort because living in a van means no longer having access to an appropriate shower and toilet at all times. It also means choosing to live in a minimalist way on a daily basis and being creative when it comes to eating or dealing with problems.


6 Some essential considerations to be aware of when buying your vehicle

If you decide to buy your van from a private individual, here are some essential details to keep in mind when buying:

  • Take the time to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic. This way, you will not have any unpleasant surprises after completing the purchase;
  • Check for leaks and ask the owner if oil changes have been made regularly;
  • Take a look at the transmission fluid, tires and brakes on the vehicle;
  • When you do your road test, pay attention to any noise that seems unusual to you. This could indicate the presence of a mechanical failure.

7 Which van should you choose?

If you don’t know which van to choose, here are some models that many van life enthusiasts have chosen.


8 Volkswagen

Volkswagen has been offering vehicles to van life enthusiasts for several years now. The advantage of choosing this brand is that many of their vehicles, such as the Westfalias, have been converted by their owners to be habitable. However, you should be aware that Volkswagens frequently break down and their parts are often difficult to find.


9 The converted van

The converted vans are actually vans that the owners have converted for the purpose of travelling on the road. The interior is usually furnished with a few cupboards, curtains and a bench that can be transformed into a bed. The advantage of this type of vehicle is that you do not have to convert it. However, the interior is often old and outdated.


10 The utility van

You can get a utility van to try the “van life” experience. This type of vehicle often has several passenger seats and windows. It may be worthwhile to purchase such a van as it is easy to convert it into a “motorhome”. In addition, the price of these vans is reasonable and if they are well maintained, you can travel up to 400,000 km with them.

 

Trading your apartment to live in a van, therefore, requires good organization and requires you to think carefully about your choice. However, it is worth trying it, especially if you have some basic mechanical knowledge and adventure is in your blood.


Cover photo: Instagram @vanlife.journal | @kombimatilda


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Marie-Pier Hamon

A journalist by training, Marie-Pier is passionate about writing on cultural and entertainment events and content creation. Always listening to music, she probably writes more words in a day than she says out loud.