What's next? Van Life after the Military

Hey all,

Thank you so much for adding me to this community. I’m really excited to have a landing place for all sorts of research and ideas of how to create the next chapter of my life. Long story short (ish), I just hit 20 years in the military and know that my time will be coming to an end soon. But, I haven’t quite figured out what’s next. I was bit by the travel bug very early on especially through my job traveling to almost all 50 states and 30+ countries. However due to a crazy work schedule (Public Affairs/Photographer), I never really EXPERIENCED these locations. So I thought what better way than through van life?

My dad is a great carpenter and has a lot of experience working on autos including MBs and Fords. He’s offered to help me build my “dream home” once I find it. I’m excited for this opportunity to live with less so I can explore more, and to help learn from and contribute to this community in any way I can. And did I mention I have a cat, Hank? Welcome any tips for her too.

First question: What equipment would you recommend buying before even acquiring a van?

Thanks in advance!

Greetings & Welcome!

Contrary to what the promoters would have people believe, building your own should be a last resort, rather than a first choice.

After watching the community for years, it seems most people either build a new van, or remodel their exisiting vans at least 3 times, losing a ton of money in the process, only to eventually purchase a factory camper.

Personally, over the course of 40+ years that I’ve been living on the road, older factory campers or motorhomes are the best bang for the buck, and they’re move in ready. Letting a previous owner take the huge financial hit of depreciation can save you a veritable fortune.

With many years of experience, I know what I want and need, but until you’re actually doing it, many of the things you think you want, you’ll change your mind on, and stuff that you never thought you’d need will become essentials. 99.99% of the home built, picture perfect, rigs you see online would actually make terrible vehicles to actually live out of.

Many spend very little time in towns, preferring camping to city life. For city dwellers, vans do have some advantages, but for non city dwellers, motorhomes are a MUCH better choice than a van. More room, and move in ready, saving you both time and money.


"Smiles are contagious, pass it on!" ~ Van_Dweller