Excited newbie van lifer, budding designer

Introduce Yourself… Hi all! I’m making the leap! Well, it’s more of a slow calculated step, but still…

Anyway, to keep it short, I have been wanting a camper van or RV for years now and I had some big transitions in my life recently that have made my biggest reason not to take part of the van life, disappear. So here I am, excited and overwhelmed :laughing: I know I can do the build myself, and being a mechanical engineer I want to leave my mark on the community eventually (hopefully a good one). I just don’t want to make too many expensive mistakes on my first build.
Finally, are new vans really this expensive right now?!! I couldn’t believe the price tag of the 2022 Mercedes Sprinters. I’m rethinking buying a new van, but really want something I can put a lot of miles on myself without worrying too much about a huge maintenance bill in 2 yrs. Any thoughts? I’m so looking forward to making new friends to nerd out on van builds with!

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Everything is expensive and sprinters were 80k+ before supply chain and chip shortage issues. I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. Couple that with how popular van life and rving have become and you have the perfect storm to keep prices where they are. No right minded salesman is going to drop the price when inventory is flying off of the shelves.

I am in the research phase of my vehicle, after a couple years of research, I am currently thinking about converting a box truck instead of a van for a number of reasons, we are in the same situation so maybe we can share some knowledge and help eachother out.


With my limited knowlege, i would reccommend starting by finding out exactly which style of vehicle (rv, van, box truck, school bus, etc.) you think would benefit you the most,
Then, I would recommend researching exactly which brand/make, model, fuel type, etc. would be the best fit based on what you prefer and which specific vehicle is going to be the best investment in terms of reliability, price, space, quality, etc.

For example, I figured out that the best compromise i could find for a vehicle for space, price, ability to be built in, reliability, is a box truck, and after that, I found that Isuzus have the best reputation of the box trucks I could find, I am still trying to do more research and talking to people face to face to find out for sure what the best move is, but that is how I am making progress. Let us know if you make progress towards a good match for you.

Hi Crash556, I have been in the same dilemma myself regarding a new van. The Ford Transit that I want is 62K plus, and the sticker shock is bad. I find that it’s really not an option once I price everything out to the end result-my perfect van and good for resale (AWD and the Ecoboost engine). A reply to my post reminded me that it’s probably not a given that I could get my money back out of it after all. I REALLY don’t want to breakdown, though I know some repairs are inevitable.
So now I’m looking for a low mileage van build that has at least most of the things I want, and maybe change some things if I can. Cant wait to see what you come up with.

The problem here with the theme of this thread is everyone wants to “get their money back”. We have to remember this was never a thing when buying any type of vehicle in the past. Maybe now that prices are high and inventory is low, but it’s never been typical.

A vehicle is not a monetary investment and you should expect that you are going to lose money as soon as you drive the van off of the lot. Thousands of dollars to be exact. Even if prices were normal, you are still going to lose money.

The only investment you are making here is possibly to your well being and happiness and that is honestly a stretch when you count all the difficulties that you do not see on social media that come with the life style.

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OK, you have a point, vehicles are not “money-back makers”. This is true.
However, I’ve found through the years that if I buy higher end vehicles, not only do I enjoy them, but I get more buyers when I sell.

I’m pretty done with the many, many vehicles I’ve had that have taken a LOT of repair money, always thinking, “I’ve almost rebuilt it now, it has to be done breaking.” It wasn’t. Not being a fixer or a mechanic really has some disadvantages, but I have other talents!

I find the van builds very trendy, and certain sinks and Hermetic this and that to be the flavor of the month or year. Some of these things look pretty good for living aboard, others expensive and a possible pain to fix. Being new, I’m trying to find a happy medium for it all and end up with a great van that I will enjoy living in, has resale value, and is at least a little bit special.

I know a lot about boats and living aboard, but vans not so much. In some ways they are quite similar. Besides, this dream scape of my next van is a lot of fun!

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