Hello everyone, I am new the the Vanlife community. My girlfriend and I have decided to try and start our build at the end of the month! One problem we have ran into is trying to find a rental workspace to get some work done in a warm space. We currently reside in Quebec, Canada and are worried about the cold affecting things like adhesive and sealants. We have searched the internet with no success of finding a rental garage or workspace. The best we could find was a by the hour do-it-yourself garage that wasn’t to excited about use doing a van build. If any one has any tips or ideas for where we could look it would be greatly appreciate! Thank you very much.
my advice is to be patient and wait for the spring/summer, in the meantime you could practice making the internals cabinets bed etc . . can you build all those items if not then you could begin with doing that
do you have income all sorted to fund the lifestyle? if not you could continue with that
do you have all the plans in place
van / floor layout are you building a shower in the van if not you could research what you are going to use then test that out ahead of time.
are you going solar ? if not then what alternatives are you considering, if you cant start on the van im sure there are lots of other things to sort out while you wait for the weather to improve.
You will find lots of good advice on here i strongly suggest you listen to van_dweller who will post soon im sure, he has been very beneficial in helping me decide which direction I need to go regarding all this. His advice plus all the you tube clips ive watched over the past few weeks have really helped me
in the meantime i suggest you take a look at this guys channel i believe he will be of enormous help to you
all the best!
Greetings & Welcome!
Income first is always good advice. A lack of reliable income is one of the largest failure points for people beginning this lifestyle. Temporary jobs while on the road can be difficult to impossible to find, and are frequently very low paying jobs.
Emergency funds are also essential. I usually suggest enough to replace everything, or buy your way back home and into a normal life, plus 6 months worth of full living expenses to give you the time to get established. Hopefully nothing will happen that can keep you out of work for longer than 6 months.
You didn’t mention what kind of van you have… If it’s a passenger van, the floor, walls, and ceiling should already be finished, and this can save you a ton of time and money. You can just remove the rear seats and move your new furniture in, anchoring everything to the former seat mounts. Don’t get suckered into stripping it and starting over. If you’re starting with a cargo van or a stripped van, everything jusst got exponentially more complicated and more costly.
Over the years I have become a huge fan of modular and no-build builds. I moved my furniture in and secured it, rather than building it in. There are many advantages to this method, for one it allows you to rearrange things if you find your original plan isn’t optimal, and it also allows you to not lose everything if you need to switch vehicles. I could transfer my whole interior to a new van in an afternoon.
This link might help you find some places to work on things. https://www.google.com/search?q=makerspace+quebec
I’m a huge fan of the “repurpose, reuse, and recycle” mindset. All of my furniture is regular household furniture, combined with camping type gear. Make sure you both have super comfy places to sit for both working and relaxing, both inside and outside. There will be days, possibly many days, when you will want or need to hunker down inside. For this same reason I always recommend at least a toilet & working kitchen inside. I also have my indoor/outdoor shower, which takes up very little more room than just my toilet, and my shower curtain is also my toilet/changing room enclosure. In a low top van, you can even shower while seated.
Proper heating, cooling, & ventilation methods are far more important than any amount of insulation. All can be accomplished both cheaply and easily. Insulation alone WILL NOT keep you comfortable, and it frequently hides and traps condensation, moisture, and consequently mold. All of these things need to be seriously considered ahead of time.
Power is also a very important subject. I like to treat power as an optional convenience rather than a necessity. Since I ditched solar, powr hog 12v compressor fridges, roof vents, and heating that required power, I don’t think I’ve ever been out of power, but by treating power as optional, you can keep all your bases covered.
Consider expensive purchases dead last. My whole “build” cost under $300, and it is the most comfortable, convenient, and reliable build I’ve ever had. Expensive choices are widely promoted, because they pay quite well, but that does not necessarily translate into good choices, let alone the best choices. With many years of experience under my belt, cheap, simple, reliable, low maintenance, and easy to replace almost anywhere, has improved my life considerably. All the expensive stuff wound up being more of a headache than it was worth.
We’ll look forward to hearing more from you, and here for any advice or guidance you might need.
So glad I decided to jump on here today and poke around a bit, a lot of your feedback is answering questions I’ve been pondering over Van_Dweller.
I’ve been a minimalist for several years now, I own two duffel bags of clothing and not much else beyond essentials. I just don’t enjoy excess clutter in my life, even while living in apartments and such. But man, it’s amazing how watching these Youtube videos you start to run to Amazon and add these crazy expensive things to your cart. I think the total of the stuff I had in there the other night was over $5k, and after reading through some of these posts, and thinking about what I really need… Man, most of it is junk/fluff, haha.
Reading some of these posts has really helped ease my anxiety over what I need to try to stuff in my vehicle, so thanks for taking the time to share your experience!
Thanks! I’m always happy when I can help others. My entire “no-build” build cost under $300, and I couldn’t be happier. Money can buy a lot of things, the good, the bad, and the frivolous. It can buy you misery just as easily as it can buy you happiness.
I’ve been fortunate enough to never suffer from a shortage of money because I always worked hard and was paid well. When I was promised help to build the best camper van money could buy, I invested a lot of money on the project. Start to finish for the cargo van, repairs, and the build, I was in it almost $75k. A far cry from the highest of $2500 I had ever invested in anything else. The end result was absolutely beautiful, totally Instagram or Youtube worthy. The problem was it was the most uncomfortable, inconvenient, and unreliable rig of the bunch. I’m sure it made the promoters a lot of money at my expense. I lost over half the money I had invested in it, when I sold it a year later after the most miserable year in my life. None of the promoters promises were true.
I went back to tried & true cheap older rigs, and have never been happier. Cheap, older, factory campers or simple and cheap self builds have treated me far better than that expensive gamble ever did. As time passes the KISS principle resonates louder and louder within me. Newer isn’t always better, just more expensive, and pretty doesn’t always translate into practical either. Quality might be gone forever unless we can purchase things from a time gone by, when quality still mattered.
I love my laptop, the internet, and my phone. I love many of my 12v accessories. LED lights are a great upgrade over incandescent. But for vehicles, the less that can go wrong, the better I like it.