Tips on finding a cheap van

Hi! I will likely be starting the search for a van to renovate for van life. I am hoping to find an affordable option that won’t break the bank and I am willing to be creative and use any type of unique or strange vehicle! Does anyone have tips on where to look for steals on old vans, buses, shuttles, utility trailers, etc.? Any other advice on the search for a good vehicle would be greatly appreciated!

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I don’t have tips for a “cheap” van, but I am selling mine for $38,000, which is about 10,000 lower than comparable vans listed on Facebook marketplace. Let me know if you’re interested.

If you have mechanic skills, some times you can buy a van from a junkyard for very cheap. But you will have to replace everything that was taken, or work out a deal for a whole van

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Look for ‘Fleet Sale’ auctioneers in areas less likely to have folks interested in Van living. Typically Govt tends to buy and drop rigs in bulk.
Happy hunting.

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Good Luck! Since the pandemic and those wanting out of the house… and the imigrants taking anything cheap to use as work van, cheap vans are hard to get a hold of.
Since I am a single female I’ve had to be worried about scammers and Facebook marketplace is loaded with them. As soon as I aska vehicle posted: state inspected? accidents? rust? they disappear.
I am not a mechanic, and don’t want to be taken so I’ve given up on that avenue and gone to Carfax…At least they give you 3 months warranty, you just need some negotiation tactics.
Even then cheap good vans are hard to find.

Good luck, still looking,

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Still looking here too, and have driven many miles to see vans so far. There are some nice vans out there, but they all need something to make them “my” van. They are already priced to high to do the changes (windows, more solar, water tank). So, I’m wondering where I’ll find one that I can afford to change at least to make livable or learn to live with less. Probably the latter. Thought I had a good budget but yikes!
Maybe gas prices and a waning summer will convince a few who are on the fence to go ahead and sell.
I also may have to fly to see a van as New England doesn’t have many. Then the logistics of that sale and where to stay and how to get to a dealer to get checked out are daunting.
BTW I am adding excise tax and insurance to my total fee which is also daunting.
I’m looking for a Ford Transit, high roof, lowish mileage, love AWD and Ecoboost but…

I found that if you find a van you like (I am going through Carfax) which are dealers of used vehicles, I ask them if they have anything else coming. I told them what I wanted, my top price ( low ball figure) and what I was doing with it. Patience. Being a small dealer of used cars, with a long history of being there, they came up with a van and called me first. It may not have the low mileage, but a 2009 is not going to. I also wanted to make sure rust and frame was not a problem. After that I can work with it. Sure I would like a new vehicle with professional build, but I can live with a full bed, dry toilet and space to store stuff. My budget is total $20K for everything and on the road traveling. But then I rather be outside then spending hours inside. Good luck with your search. Fran

I just picked up a 95 Chevy G20. As I was pondering purchasing it, I did some searches to compare availabilities and prices considering their mileage and condition.
It was very revealing how many models were currently available and how many had low mileage considering their ages.
If you know the model you want maybe punch it up and include ‘for sale’ in the query. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re not surprised as to how many you may actually discover available.
Happy hunting.


I think the best bang for your buck these days is cheap older motorhomes from the 70’s or early 80’s. Picked up one for a friend last month for $800, put in 2 new (used) batteries for $20 each, $600 for new tires, $200 for new belts & hoses etc. Gave it a spit shine & deep cleaning to make it look new again, and he has a great rig with only 68k original miles, and a bullet proof Dodge 318 engine. All for under $2k total, and it’s easily worth over $7.5k now.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller