Newbie from Melbourne, Australia

Introduce Yourself…

Hi everyone,

My first post on this cool forum and I would really appreciate some help…

Can anyone give solid advice on the following;

  1. The ideal van to buy and best prices?
  2. free places to park the van without any issues once i get it?
  3. Cost to fit out the van to buying it pre made?
  4. How I would get mail whilst traveling in my van?
  5. Costs per month to maintain van etc?

Thanks again and i look forward to your replies :wink:

Greetings & Welcome!

  1. The ideal van to buy and best prices?

For newbies, I always suggest buying a cheap, older, factory camper. Not only are they move in ready, but they will also hold their value in case you decide this lifestyle isn’t for you.

  1. free places to park the van without any issues once i get it?

This can be a tough one, and varies by location and local laws. Some places have laws against sleeping in vehicles, camping on public streets, and oversized vehicles. I typically park by large apartment complexes with overflow parking on the street. Lots of people coming and going, and nobody pays much attention, they just figure you’re visiting someone who lives there, or maybe even that you live there. I have found that obvious camper vans or small motorhomes attract much less negative attention than cargo vans. They also make much better campers.

  1. Cost to fit out the van to buying it pre made?

While it’s entirely possible to buy a cheap older van, and convert it cheaply, that is not the typical thing that the promoters of the lifestyle are pushing. I paid $750 for my van, and under $300 to convert it into a fully self contained camper van. The problem lies in the fact that the promoters are sneaky sales people, recommending horrible, expensive choices, because that’s how they make their living. The promoters are far worse than the lowliest lying used car salesman, and their victims frequently wind up homeless and jobless, while losing tons of money in the process.

Vehicles are a depreciating asset. The newer the vehicle, the more depreciation it will suffer. On the other hand, fully depreciated vehicles tend to hold their value. Pre computerized vehicles, preferably with carburetors, tend to be more reliable, and require far less maintenance, plus they are cheaper and easier to repair. The older vehicles from the 70’s & 80’s were also built much better than anything newer.

  1. How I would get mail whilst traveling in my van?

Private mailbox services are my answer. It provides me with a legitimate street address, and in my case, they will scan and email me any mail I recieve, regardless of my location. I also have the option of them forwarding the actual mail to me if I choose too. I love them, because they also filter out all the junk mail for me. I pay under $100 a year, and have been very happy with the service. My address looks like an apartment number rather than a PO Box #.

  1. Costs per month to maintain van etc?

This can vary widely depending on your vehicle, and how much you drive. My current van is a 1973 Dodge hightop, 1 ton window van. (I live in the USA), it had upwards of 200k miles on it at purchase, pushing 11 years ago. It ran perfect, and still does nearing 500k miles. Other than normal maintenance, tires, brakes, tuneups, oil changes, etc. it has never needed a major repair, and has never left me stranded. The worst problem was a broken accelerator return spring, which I simply attached a piece of twine to the gas pedal so I could pull it up manually until I could get to town and replace it. This is also an example of why I prefer older, simpler vans.

Conversely, when I bought an almost new, very low miles, Chevy cargo van, and followed the directions of the promoters, I had over $60k invested in the van and the conversion. Not only was it a miserable camper, it also required over $10k in expensive repairs with under 89k miles on it. Although my build and workmanship could rival any factory camper, I still lost over $30k on it in the year that I owned it.

After that fiasco, I went back to my original way of thinking and planning. Buy cheap, and if it needs more repairs than you can replace it for, replace it. Likewise, my build is portable (but secured), so I can easily move it to a different vehicle if the need arises. I did not drill a single hole in my van, or modify it in any permanent way. I have many opening windows, so no leaky roof vents are needed. I charge my house battery mainly while driving, but have a generator as a backup, or could always use shore power if it’s available. I no longer have solar panels, or expensive 12v compressor fridges, or any of the other garbage the promoters like to push. What I do have is efficient heating, cooling, power, kitchen, and bathroom with both a toilet and a shower, and all for under $300.

An older, well maintained vehicle, will almost always cost you considerably less than a newer vehicle.


My current camper van was originally a high top factory camper van, that a previous owner was convinced by promoters to gut it, and start over. There was nothing wrong with it originally according to the previous owner, everything worked as it should, and in pictures they showed me, it looked almost new. After gutting it, they became overwhelmed, and sold it at a huge loss, and bought another factory camper van. I restored the original floor and walls, from a donor van at a wrecking yard, then simply moved my new interior in rather than building it in. It is no longer the original floor plan, but it is very comfortable for one or two people. I have no plumbing, because I frequently spend winters in below freezing areas, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have double sinks, a toilet, and a shower. I just built everything to accommodate for extreme weather camping. I stay warm in the winter, and cool in the summer without ever covering my windows too.

Most of my vehicles have been factory campers, that I keep original, and I’ve been very happy with them, and the low prices I paid for them. I only built my current camper van because there were no factory campers available for cheap at that time in the area I was in. When available, I will always choose a cheap factory camper van or small motorhome over a DIY project, and use it as it was intended, I don’t add solar, or remodel it. I choose ones that are comfortable to begin with. The more windows the better… Better view, and better ventilation.

Good luck, and give a shout if you need more.


"Smiles are contagious, pass it on!" ~ Van_Dweller


As a side note, a reliable income is usually the best starting point, and the lack of, is frequently the failure point of many newbies.

Income while traveling can be far more difficult than while staying stationary. Working online can work well provided you have internet coverage, but for many of us, that requires sticking fairly close to populated areas. Many online jobs are very low paying, but freelancers can make pretty good money. I average $100k+ per year running my own online business. If you find a need and fill it, the earning potential is almost unlimited.

Never plan on #vanlife saving you any money, for many it turns out to be far more expensive.


"Never gamble more than you can afford to lose." ~ Dare2Dream

Kind thanks for your response. Do you have any pics of your van? So you’re saying it cost you $1k all up for van and complete fit out? What’s your 10k a year business if you don’t mind me asking


Re: Cost of van and conversion

It came in right around $1200, including purchase, title transfer & license, and complete conversion. Parts of my conversion were free Craigslist finds, thrift store finds, and things I repurposed. It wasn’t really about saving money though, it was about finding what I wanted quickly and easily. My biggest expenses were house battery, isolator, and installation $80, inverter generator $98, and battery charger $29. My futon sofa/bed was free, my kitchen cabinets & night stands were free, and so was my toilet & ice box. Maybe $5 in gas between them all. Most of my kitchen and shower equipment came from a dollar store. Plastic dish pans for sinks, trigger spray bottles for water delivery, hula hoop and shower curtains for toilet/shower enclosure etc. My heater, camp stove, cookware, and pots/pans were used, my dinnerware came from a dollar store. My swamp cooler came later, $50 at Quartzsite.

I don’t think I included the $50 I spent restoring the original floor, wall panels, and window trim from a wrecking yard in my build price either. But I still think the $1200 total is awfully close to accurate, maybe $1300 max including all original amenities.

Later, to complete my setup and comfort level, I added 4x 12v heating/cooling/massage seat cushions, and 2x 12v heating/cooling blankets, from a truckstop. Of course those are totally optional, spendy at probably $200 total, but they are PHENOMENAL!, and use very minimal power.

Here’s my van:

And my floor plan:

Re: My $100k/year business

I’m doing remote computer repairs & tune-ups. (This includes file/photo/data recovery, software installation, updates, removal, & troubleshooting, driver updates, junk file discovery & deletion, error corrections, software recommendations, & more.)

Previously, I have made up to $250k/year selling ebooks.

On the side, but not included in the $100k figure above, I also do business consulting, cyber security, vehicle inspections, and flea markets & swap meets. I also volunteer working with the homeless, seniors, the disabled, and occasionally animal shelters.

I just advertise via free online classifieds.

Previously, I was a traveling construction worker for 30 years, but basically wore my body out. I tried retirement, but it wasn’t for me, so I reinvented a new life that wasn’t so hard on my body. I was lucky, at many gatherings there were workshops teaching people multiple ways of making money, both online and offline. I picked things I thought I’d enjoy, and made it happen. The ebook business made good money, but it was boring and not challenging enough for me, so I switched to things that were more mentally challenging.


"Smiles are contagious, pass it on!" ~ Van_Dweller

Regarding places to park, check out Park4night app in your phone/tablet or go to
There seems to be plenty of places listed in Australia too.

I saw a UK video on youtube where they said there is a UK company that acts as your PO box. It receives all your mail and packages, then resends them to whatever address you want. If there is a similar Australian service, it might be a valid option.

Another option is a trusted family member or friend who would do that for you.

Regarding costs in general, you should examine what kind of vans/platforms are common in your area. If you know anyone who does car repairs, ask they have certain models they would recommend or what to avoid. Some certain brand/model could be really tempting and cheap to buy but parts would be much more expensive or harder to get compared to another brand.

thanks for the info,buddy.

I have been thinking about writing ebooks but dont know where to start. $250k a year is amazing. I would be thrilled to get even half of that! Any tips on where to start with the ebooks etc?

Thanks again


I never wrote any of the ebooks I sold, I bought them, with resale rights. I tried to choose ones that would have a large audience. I frequently had to buy many, to find one that lived up to my standards. Once found, then the secret was in my marketing strategy. Instead of trying to get in the search engines, I ran online classified ads to advertise them. I would typically sell about 1,000 copies within a month.

Then I found out about PLR (Private Label Rights) ebooks. These allow you to use the information contained in them however you wish, including putting your own name on them. This created a new opportunity, with these I could take the best from multiple ebooks and combine them into a totally new ebook, that nobody else had. I was also gifted the ability to get all the ebooks I wanted for free. Today, there is a paid site which sells the secret I was gifted.

In 2008 during the housing crisis, I became obsessed with the idea that I could help people save their homes. So I started grabbing every ebook I could find, with the information needed, and started cranking out ebooks to help people, which I would sell very cheaply. Needless to say, they were huge sellers. That was the year I made over $250k, by accident, just trying to help others.

“How To” and self help ebooks sell well. Find a need, and fill it, life’s little secret to success and financial freedom.


"Smiles are contagious, pass it on!" ~ Van_Dweller

So i can download free ebooks and resell them if they have plr on them?

Where do you sell and promote and for what price? Amazon?


Most free ebooks don’t come with resale or PLR rights. They either need to be purchased individually, or some places offer memberships with many ebooks available with membership at no additional costs. Ebook bundles/collections are also available on places like ebay.

I sold mine through free online classified ads, for prices ranging from $9.95 to $39.95.


"Smiles are contagious, pass it on!" ~ Van_Dweller