Greetings & Welcome!
Government auctions are more than likely going to get you a vehicle that will cost you more to repair it than what it’s worth. Some people get lucky, but it isn’t worth the risk to me.
Camper vans are great, I’ve lived in and built many, but they’re not nearly as comfortable as a small RV and in today’s economy a small motorhome will give you the best bang for your buck. That’s what I’d start out with, and you can always upsize or downsize later if you wish.
If you decide to build your own, don’t forget a toilet & shower. They will greatly improve your experience.
If you start with a passenger van, the floor, walls, & ceiling are already finished, so the hardest part of any build is already done. Since they have many opening windows, no expensive leaky roof vents are needed either. The best camper vans I ever lived in were older & cheap, and the conversions cost hundreds not thousands of dollars. The promoters & influencers like to promote what makes them the most money… That doesn’t make them the best choices. Example: An excellent heater/cooker can be built from dollar store parts in about 10 minutes, for a cost of about $5.00; my toilet/shower enclosure cost about the same, also from the dollar store.
My last camper van cost me $700 to buy, and under $300 to convert, I lived in it for over 10 years, and put over 300k trouble free miles on it. It’s a 1973 Dodge high top Maxi-Van. It was originally a factory Travco camper van, but it had been gutted before I bought it. Now I’m traveling with friends, so I’ve upgraded to a much larger bus conversion, and put old faithful into storage.
What about income? You’ll need a reliable income to support this lifestyle, because it isn’t free, and a rather large emergency fund is highly recommended. My emergency fund has enough to replace everything, rig and all, rent a place, furnish it, and live on for a minimum of 6 months. I don’t trust insurance to make things right, or want to rely on any type of public assistance, either of which can take a long time to get. If my rig were to get stolen or destroyed, I would be homeless, and in need of funds immediately, so being prepared is essential. Life happens, so we can be prepared to succeed, or be prepared to fail.
I choose comfortable, convenient, & reliable over either expensive or fancy.
"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller