Where to start!


Hey guys! I’m an absolute brand new vanlife enthusiast - I’m graduating college soon and am desperate to hit the road.
With that said I’m obsessively researching and looking for the van/ small bus I want. I know VERY little about what to search for - I know I’ll be riding solo and this will definitely be a learning piece for me, but I’m excited about the journey and build!

Anyone have suggestions for things to avoid or parameters I should be following when searching? Anything I need to start thinking about now? I won’t hit the road for at least a year, but im anxious to get started!


Greetings & Welcome!

A job and income first and foremost. If you’re planning on traveling, then a mobile friendly income.

Vehicles are relatively easy. First decide if the ability to stand up inside is necessary.

Passenger vans, shuttle vans, and buses are all available, and make good camper vans, cargo vans not so much. Starting with something that has already finished floor, walls, and ceiling will save you a ton of work and expense.

Window vans are the stealthiest, and easiest to park in towns. Even high top ones. For a single traveler, I think vans make the best sense. For two or more, bigger is better.

Older vans can be found pretty cheap, and the pre computerized ones are known for their longevity, durability, and reliability. Mine is a 1973 Dodge Maxi-Wagon(van) with a high top. It is approaching 500k miles on the original engine and transmission, and still going strong. I purchased it over 10 years ago for under $1,000 and it has been very reliable and never had a major breakdown. Just normal maintenance, and still runs and drives like new. Just drove clear across the country with zero problems.

The next thing to consider is what amenities you want. Even though I built my own, I have everything a legitimate motor home would have, a toilet & shower, kitchen, heating, cooling, and power. Since I don’t normally stay in campgrounds, I have to generate my own power through either driving or with my generator. I gave up on solar panels because they weren’t reliable enough for me. They were a huge added cost with more negatives than positives.

If you’re not planning on doing much on street parking, older motorhomes are also worth considering. They can be cheap, and are move in ready.


"I can live like a king because I work like a dog." ~ An anonymous vandweller


It’s a good thing to start researching early.
We are also launching a automated tool in which you can enter some info about your preferences and the tool will then recommend all the possible home on wheels that fit your requirements

More info about that can be found here:

I’m going to be announcing it here on the forum soon as well.


Thanks for the info guys!

After obsessively doing research and planning for the past couple months, I think I’ve come across the perfect rig to start building on, but I want to run it past some vanlifers with experience first.
I’ve found a 1994 Ford E Class (7.3) shuttle bus - in terms of size, mobility, windows etc its exactly what I’m looking for. I only hesitate because I know 1994 is the first model with the 7.3 engine, so I’m wondering if there’s anyone with Powerstroke experience or know of any common problems? I also know there was a recall on the CPS, but that’s definitely not enough to keep me from buying asap

Thanks again!


My personal guide is 1996 or newer for the OBD2, 3/4 ton or better and my personal mark for modern vehicle lifespan is 250,000 miles. Past that the latest model with the lowest mileage you can afford…

“Afford” is a real important point. Keep some cash back for all the stuff you ‘might’ have to do with a new to you used van. Tires, hoses, belts and a general tune up are not unexpected in a new to me purchase. There is a good chance I’ll have to do brakes too…

A mileage example… i buy a van with 200,000 miles on it, I expect (this is really a ballpark figure) that it will make it for another 50,000 before something big craps out… If it had 150,000 I’d have a 100,000 miles to go to the 250k mark… If I drive 10,000 miles a year I have some time with either van…

Enjoy the planning, enjoy the shopping, this whole thing can be fun. Good luck!