Passionate newbie

Hello all!

My name’s Jac and I’m looking into taking the plunge and finding my personal Vanhalla :). I’ve done some research on builds, watched as many van life videos as all of you, and have most everything I can think of for the Interior (kitchen, bedding, comprehensive med kit, and road safety kit). Just need build materials and the van. I’m on the lookout now. Has anyone bought from a government auction? Pros and cons? Can’t wait to dive in and learn more! Thanks Jac

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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

All food for thought, Thank you! I’m actually a personal assistant and can work remotely as needed. If that revenue stream dries up I’ve run a organizing/cleaning business for the last 10 years. I appreciate the advice on having savings and plan to keep adding to mine before I hit the road. Haven’t considered a smaller RV as I wanted to be incognito, but will look into them. Glad I found the site!



There’s no such thing as stealth. People are just fooling themselves. An obvious camper draws far less unwanted attention than an unmarked cargo van. With an obvious camper, you will be considered a tourist, or someone visiting relatives, instead of being homeless or a criminal.

Some places have various parking restrictions, no commercial vehicles on the street overnight is somewhat common, others include height or width restrictions, and few specifically have RV parking restrictions. The newest one seems to be no sleeping in vehicles.

The trashy homeless, and the self entitled idiots in cargo vans who leave trash everywhere and poop in people’s yards, are ruining things for those of us who try to be good neighbors. Unfortunately, we’re in the minority, but the actions of the idiots effect all of us. Arriving late and leaving early is also extremely suspicious and sketchy.

Whenever I’m in a new town, if I’m having trouble, I just call or drop by a police station, tell them how long I plan to be in town, and ask them where I can find a safe place to park. They are usually very helpful.

I tend to go farther than just “Leave No Trace”, and actually clean up the neighborhood, the park, the parking lot, or whatever area I’m in. Instead of trying to hide like a thief in the night, I try to get acquainted with my neighbors if I’ll be in the area for a while. Most people really don’t mind good neighbors, and some actually really appreciate us. Anybody needs anything, I’m there to help, that’s what good neighbors do. I’ve mowed lawns, fixed steps, painted, built decks, repaired cars, repaired roofs, and even gone grocery shopping for my neighbors, and I’m always welcomed back when I’m in the area.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller