Hello, I'm Kevin!

Introduce Yourself…

Hello! My name is Kevin.

I’m beginning the research stages to see if this life might be for me. If so, I’m probably 3-4 years out. That’s time for saving money and either building a van or having one built (I like the idea of DIY).

I’m retired military, currently still a contractor on a military base, and getting a little tired of the day-to-day office grind. At the moment I’m single with no pets (I suppose either of those could change in the future but I’m not actively searching in either case).

As I said I’m just starting to research so I’m not even sure quite what questions I need to ask. I suppose the first question is, “is this life for me?” If the answer is yes, then I’ll be wondering what kind of vehicle I’ll want and what amenities/features I’ll need, and then how to acquire/build that. Of course I’ll be keeping budget in mind the whole time–I’m guessing that having a military pension will be incredibly helpful throughout.

Feel free to post random questions I should be asking and things I should be considering.

Also, while watching YouTube videos, I came across a couple resources like a Van Conversion Guide Book and an online course called DIYhero, both from Nate Murphy. Any thoughts on those?


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Greetings & Welcome!

I wouldn’t recommend DIY without years of prior experience. Too many people lose too much money doing DIY. Very few last longer than 6 months to a year, and the DIY aspect is the main reason. People who start with factory campers last for years.

RV’s come in many different styles & floorplans, and very nice, but older ones can be purchased for a tiny fraction of the price of most DIY builds. It’s not unusual to find 40+ year old campers with under 50k miles on them, and road ready for under $2,500.

40-50 years ago, quality & customer satisfaction was important, while today it’s all about corporate greed & screw the consumer, and it gets worse every year. Newer isn’t always better, and RV’s & vehicles in general are a perfect example of this. My 1973 Dodge van runs better, drives better, and is more reliable than any of the newish vans, even with over 500k miles on it. In over 10 years and 300k+ miles, it has never let me down.


"Dirt cheap 40+ year old motorhomes will save you money both now & later." ~ Money Matters


Thanks! Is that still the case with plenty of time to build and good access to tools and facilities? Some things I like about DIY is the ability to really customize everything to my wants (this is exceptionally important to me) and also that I’d know exactly how everything is built. I know that in general such things can be extremely valuable when it comes to any future maintenance. With that said, I’m sure I’d make a lot of rookie mistakes so I’d need more of that maintenance. If I got something used or pre-built I’d absolutely want to gut it and redo everything.

With those considerations, I thinking either a slow DIY build or a custom build by a reputable builder will be my most likely options.


Time, money, tools, & facilities, don’t guarantee comfort, convenience, or reliability. Real world experience in this lifestyle is what gives us the knowledge to put those tools to good use. Without it, you’re relying on luck. While it’s easy to envision a lifestyle of rainbows, roses, & freedom, actually creating it is much more difficult than most people realize.

It takes a lot more than just your rig, it takes problem solving skills, logical thinking & planning, and an unstoppable attitude & desire to make it work. Something most people don’t really have. It’s not the life in easy mode that some like to portray, unless you have the where with all to create it. You’ll be surprised how many things most people take for granted, that we have to re-imagine, re-engineer, re-invent, re-purpose, and compromise on. A factory camper can make the transition much easier.

In the end, we must each make our own decisions. Choose wisely my friend, your health, happiness, finances, and possibly your entire future are at risk. Too many have gambled & lost. The less you lose, the easier it is to recover.


"Accountability, responsibility, sustainability,
& creative solutions for the win." ~ Old_Soul

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I would encourage you to try the DIY route. I have been modifying my vehicle to be as self-sufficient as possible over the past few years, all with no prior van-building experience beforehand. I’ve learned a lot about auxiliary battery systems and wiring, propane systems, diesel heaters, water filtering/purification systems, the importance of ventilation to avoid condensation that can cause mold and rust in the vehicle, basic metalworking (to make lots of custom brackets!), the ins and outs of my vehicle, and so on. The research/learning and DIY aspects have been tremendously satisfying. I’ve taken my vehicle cross-country and back, on the road for 4 weeks, sleeping in the back of the vehicle most of the time, along with various shorter trips. Each time I stay in the vehicle, it provides me with valuable feedback on what works and what doesn’t, which I can build on. The result is a vehicle customized exactly the way I want it, and if something in the modifications I made breaks, I know exactly what it takes to fix it. YouTube is full of people showing creative, clever, and often simple solutions to problems that arise. Keep us posted on your progress!

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