Greetings & Welcome!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 #.
- 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