Greetings & Welcome!
Youtube & Instagram aren’t the best places to learn about van life. Most of what you’ll find are promoters, more accurately described as sleazy sales people. Many hide their true agenda quite well, but make no mistake, their suggestions are bought and paid for.
The best advice in my humble opinion is to move your interior in and secure it, rather than building it in. Keep everything as cheap as cheap as possible, but don’t compromise on durability or reliability. Buy locally whenever possible, and try to stick to items that can be easily and cheaply replaced if they break, and available almost anywhere.
Don’t get persuaded into buying expensive fridges or solar panels etc. A cheap junkyard battery will work just as good, and last just as long as the more expensive ones. A cheap generator is far more useful and versatile than a roof full of solar. Fridges break, but ice is available almost everywhere.
You’re camping, don’t try to recreate a house or apartment. The systems are different, but you can still maintain 100% comfort. Don’t forget a toilet & a shower, you want to be 100% self contained, just like a motorhome. That doesn’t mean you need plumbing though, plumbing can freeze, clog, or break. The KISS (Keep It Stupidly Simple) principle should be your guiding light.
You want comfort, convenience, and reliability. It doesn’t need to be expensive. My entire conversion cost under $300 and it has kept me perfectly comfortable for over 10 years. In contrast, in the past I spent over $30k converting a cargo van. It was both miserable and uncomfortable, even though I followed all the promoters suggestions. I lost over $30k on that van when I sold it a year later. It was beautiful inside, on par with a very expensive luxury motorhome, but cargo van campers are extremely hard to sell, people want windows, lots of opening windows. Me too! Living in a box without windows isn’t stealthy, it’s torture.
Good Luck & keep us posted.
"Stay home, stay safe, and remember social distancing." ~ Van_Dweller