With so many options out there, and so many DIYers turning everything from a box truck to a school bus into the trendiest of tiny homes, finding the vehicle that would suit our needs was the first step to creating our dream.
On our 48-state roadtrip, we drove 19,000 miles in a Honda Civic Hybrid and spent less than $1,600 in gas. Gas mileage is really important to us, and though we knew we wouldn't be able to find a large vehicle that got 40mpg, we also didn't want to end up with something that got less than 10mpg. Our Ford Transit gets from 15-17mpg, which isn't bad when comparing it to other RVs and such.
Our next biggest decision maker was that we needed something to fit in a regular parking space. Though we love spending our free time exploring the great outdoors, most of our work brings us to big cities. As we've experienced in big cities like Seattle, driving in itself can be ridiculous, let alone parking. We wanted something that we could envision ourselves driving in places like New York or LA if we had to. With our Ford Transit, though it has an extended cab, we haven't had many issues finding a place to park. The height of our vehicle prohibits us from parking in many parking garages, but street parking and parking lots always work great, which saves us a lot of sanity and money in the long run.
We thought about pulling a trailer so we could leave it at our campsite and have a regular vehicle to drive into downtowns, but that idea quickly passed when we added up the extra costs of purchasing a trailer PLUS a whole new vehicle (we didn't already have a haul vehicle) to pull the trailer, which brought us back to vanlife.
We began looking at a lot of different vans, and decided pretty soon into it that we wanted to be able to stand inside. The extra height would also allow us to make a loft for Everly to sleep. If we have another child, we will be able to extend the loft over to make room for two!
Finally, it came down to which van we wanted to buy. We decided on the Ford Transit 350 for several reasons. Possibly our biggest was that we found a BRAND NEW 2016 Ford Transit for $11,000 off the sticker price because of hail damage on the roof. Keep in mind, including the total conversion cost, the price was still less than the original cost of the van. The hail damage was minimal and could only be seen if you were standing on top of the van. We planned from the beginning to install a roof rack, so this wasn't a problem because the damage wouldn't be seen anyway.
Everyone has their own idea of what works for them, but this is what works for us and we love it! Are YOU planning on jumping into vanlife? Are you currently crafting the dream? Let us know in the comments!