The Van Life Idea

Almost daily to I see something on social media, TV, or in an email where my gut reaction is: “Man I’d like to try that!”  This is where the life list starts to emerge and grow.  One such thing that has popped up fairly recent and has caught on is Van Life.  2016 was when it really started to sink into my head, the thought thrilled me, living life on the road!  This totally fits my current wandering addiction!  Van Life to me meant freedom, nothing holding me back, the power to visit places and friends all over the country.

During the summer of 2017 my 2003 Ford Explorer (of which I turned into a make shift camper van of sorts) finally seized up beyond affordable repair after 242,000 miles.  This was the breaking point.  This was the moment I decided to get serious about pursuing the Van Life idea.

After limping back to my home base in Colorado, I decided to set some goals that would put this idea into high gear.  First was to sell off most everything I owned, thereby emptying my storage unit and saving that money.  Having that storage unit really pained me, spending over $150 a month on a 10′ x 10′ space filled with stuff I haven’t used in 2+ years seemed so ridiculous.  Part of the transition to Van Life also meant going minimal, you can only fit so much in a Van.  Second was to search for a Van and pull the trigger on this major purchase!  I had sold my house earlier in the year and the money I had made was sitting in a savings account and ready to go.

 

My empty storage unit.
Such an amazing feeling to have the storage unit empty!

Van Search

The Van search process turned out to be difficult and paralyzing.  What I mean by this is that the information out there is tremendous!  The sources for finding a used van seem endless.  I really had to sit down with myself and a piece of paper to decide what exactly I wanted in a van, in order to narrow down my search.  Of course my budget was also a restricting factor in narrowing down my search.

I quickly learned that I would have to widen my search beyond just Colorado.  It is obvious that the Van Life culture is alive and well in the west, and the vans are either hard to find, or extremely expensive.  Based on what I had seen during my research, and knowing what kind of van build I wanted to do, I came up with the following criteria:

  • 2012 or newer Mercedes Benz Sprinter 2500 (170″ Wheelbase)
  • $30,000 max budget
  • Willing to travel in order to purchase the right van
  • Clean vehicle history
  • Low mileage
  • No serious engine or body damage

This lead to daily online searching.  I found it difficult to connect and talk with people about vans for sale in other states.  Trying to check out a used vehicle in a state other than yours is quite tough.  How would I know if the Van ran right without test driving?  A lot would have to be put into faith and the trust of the seller.

Just Take Action

I am definitely guilty of paralysis by analysis.  Would I ever find the perfect Van for me?  Probably not.  I’d always wonder if there was a better price and better conditioned van out there.  This is why I set myself a hard deadline to take action.  I set a date in which I wanted to have purchased the Van.

One day I finally stumbled upon a van that met all my criteria and was really close to my budget.  I contacted the seller, asked some questions, had them send me the car fax report, etc.  Everything was looking good, and the van was really clean.  I was also getting itchy to have the search be over with.

After a little more back and forth with the dealer, we agreed upon a price (slightly more than my budget), and I gave them a deposit to hold the vehicle for me.  So, without ever seeing the Van in person, I bought a one way ticket to Nashville, Tennessee.  I was about to embark on a new adventure!

My Van and the start of Van Life

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