Used or New with Safety Features for a Senior Woman

Hi, New to full time van life, but not new to months in a van, tiny home living, or years living on small sailboats.
I’m selling land to buy a van and take off for at least a year or more. This decision is about not waiting any longer, I’m 71, but still working some remotely.
I’m between a Promaster and a Ford Transit but top of the list is wanting the safety features in a 21’, 22’ or even a 23’ (blind spot mirrors, cameras, cruise, and more). My older self is, well, needy.

  1. If I buy new (Transit) with all the bells and whistles (AWD and Ecoboost) will I ever get most of my money back with a van home build with factory cabinetry, even though I’d love it while I had it? It might even be perfect, but SO expensive.
  2. If I buy used, it looks like 80K or more for low mileage and safety features, and none of them perfect, but compromise is inevitable. Or is it?

Love your thoughts and advice:
Anyone in a newer pricey van with regrets (price and really NOT perfect)
your debate on Promaster versus Transit.

Does anyone think the insane van pricing and popularity of vanlife will wane with the gas prices resulting my losing money on a fancy new build?

I really need input so thank you in advance! Big decision.

Blind spot mirrors, back up camera, security camera etc can all be added separately. Can buy on Amazon and have back up camera installed by an auto electronic place if you don’t want to tackle it yourself.
There are tons of videos on YouTube about every imaginable van life need, diy, design ideas etc.
I’d recommend the channel CheapRVliving. It’s not just for RV’s.
I have a 2010 Toyota minivan with 150k miles and it’s been going strong for over a year. The price of used and new cars is insane right now. Because of a van build, it’s likely you won’t get your full money value back on a new vehicle, and a few years older is just as reliable.
If you buy used, you won’t feel so scared to alter the interior to suit your van build, be it screws or ripping out things. I tried to be super precious about not doing any permanent damage to the interior not mine but found it hindered a lot of my design options.
Both of the vehicles you named are great, and better than a minivan simply because more head room!
I’d just look for a good deal on a used for either model car. and a few other sites like them sell cars all over you can view and purchase online. Maybe consider it.
Can also get a mechanic to do an inspection prior to buying used.

Thank you! My conclusion is also that buying new is insanely expensive, as is doing my own build since I need to hire someone. I’ve found some pretty interesting sites that have production furniture to install that I would probably do. Some of it is really nice and be about the same as trying to find someone to do it for me.

I have envisioned the van I want, unfortunately, as buying used and built will not be it. Still, that’s what I’ll probably do.

I walk a local campground to see if I can talk to van owners about why they picked their van and what works and what doesn’t. This is netting all sorts of good ideas, and more questions.

I’d love to hear more from anyone about the used Transit vs Promaster and I think I’ve seen all the utubes on the subject, and every other subject! This is intense.

I’m listing my land today!

1 Like

@Hannafree - You can always just buy a van and throw a mattress in it, building it out as you go. This is what we did and honestly while things got more organized and somewhat more comfortable, we were just as happy in the tin box that we started with.

Chances are, you are going to want to alter things at some point anyway. Best not to overthink it at the beginning. Sometimes just cobbling things together works out better in the end.

I think you should not be afraid to buy a used car or van. There are a lot of people doing that now. I was thinking about buying a Toyota Prius at one time and was just as worried about it. And now I can say that it is a great car, in all plans. Comfortable sedan, low gas mileage, comfort and convenience in the cabin. Roomy trunk. And I think that all the owners of used cars will agree with me.

Hey Bretly!

As a senior woman (65 next month), I can’t envision myself throwing a mattress in the back of a van, taking off, building as I go!

Maybe in my 20s, 30s, even 40s, but not now - unh unh - no how, no way. I can only speak for myself, maybe Hannah is one of those older ladies who works out every day and trains for marathons.

I bought a 2003, Ford E250, partially built out camper-van. So far, it has run great. Last January, I flew to Baltimore Maryland to buy it and drove it back to Florida myself.

Then, just over the past couple of weeks I had the unexpected adventure of driving the van down to Clewiston Florida - The best place we could think of to get away from the hurricane.

Hubby drove his pick up truck since all his tools are in it. It was a good trial run for me even under a bad situation. Everything was on the floor including the things that are usually on the upper cabinets because I have not put doors on them yet.

Also, I had some of my building things with me because I wasn’t sure what we would come back to. It was also the first time on the road for my two cats, and they handled it remarkably well.

Back when I brought the van home from Maryland, I realize there was a lot more that needed to be finished than I had originally thought. but I have been enjoying myself with the parts that I can do.

I’ve learned how to use an electric drill, a chop saw, and circular saw (used as a table saw). I’ve been painting and sanding.

I’ve lived in the camper van the entire time in my husband‘s front yard. (Don’t judge. LOL it’s what works for us.)

He is a carpenter, so he’s teaching me, but he is still working almost full time, at 68, and has very little time or energy to be able to help me as much as he would like.

He did install a small air conditioner in the back window. He’s also made me a temporary single platform bed. The van came with a water tank and sink, and he will be helping me with the pump because that was not finished.

I am enjoying fixing it up because I can have it more the way I want it with it being only partially built . Anyway, I didn’t intend to ramble on and on. I meant this for Hannah as well I guess. And please don’t take offense at my comment about throwing a mattress in the van.

Karen - Indigo Van

Love my 2008 Prius!! Have you (or anyone out there) pulled one behind a camper-van. I know the front wheels have to be off the ground in a dolly or the whole thing on a flatbed. I’ve also heard,(though I find it hard to believe) that towing a vehicle doesn’t add that much to the already high mileage (I’m getting around 10 mpg currently).

I agree that you are wise to get a used van. The new ones, if nice, are astronomically priced. You can find one that is as close as you can get to what you want, and then you can tweak it to suit yourself. Also, like someone else said, you can buy the safety features and really anything you want and have someone help you put them on.

I don’t know what your budget is, but I’m including a link to several vans on a website called

I love my little home on wheels, but if I could have afforded something just like this first one, I would’ve jumped on it.

This next one I s about what I paid for mine. This has a very interesting build. I like the airiness of it. I would not like making blackout window coverings for all those windows. LOL

Here’s a really sweet Promaster: Camper Van For Sale: 2018 Promaster 2500 high roof

These three are in Florida but the website allows you to look all over.

I think the website I actually found mine on was this one:
OR it may have been this one:
They deal in more than RVs, and I believe the class Bs are basically like a campervan.

Anyway, once I found the one I was interested in I contacted the actual owners and did a lot of texting and calling back-and-forth with lots of questions before I bought my plane ticket to Baltimore Maryland.

I know I’m really bad at going on and on when posting, but I hope some of this helps.

I answered another posters question above. I think their name is Bretly.
If you’d like to know a little more about my van and situation you might want to read that.

Hope you have good luck on selling your land! Where are you located?

Keep in touch to let us know how things go, and maybe I’ll meet you on the road someday!