Whether you are planning on becoming a fulltime van lifer or you’re building a custom camper for weekends and holidays, one of the biggest factors you have to keep in mind when van shopping is your budget.
Next to the (obvious) purchase price of your van, there are also a few extra aspects you should keep in mind that will affect your travelling budget.
Fuel Efficiency ⛽
Maybe not the first thing you look at, but there is a huge differential in how far your money will get you (literally). Not only is a more fuel-efficient van better for your wallet, but it is also beneficial to the environment. Since most of us plan on travelling a significant distance these costs will add up fast.
Maintenance costs 🛠️
Another thing to keep in mind is that different car brands come with different costs for parts and maintenance. Since you can pretty much assume that you will have to do some maintenance in your van life journey this could be an important factor in your decision-making process.
For instance, Sprinters are made by Mercedes Benz, this makes all of their maintenance and parts more expensive. Ford is generally a cheaper car brand so depending on your area these parts will be more easily available and for sure cheaper.
Older vans or vans with higher kilometres tend to have higher maintenance costs but are usually cheaper to purchase.
We can't tell you whether you should go for a cheaper van or not, we can only tell you to honestly look at your budget and don't spend more than you can afford.
For our 3rd van, we took a calculated risk and our new van was actually the Cheapest Sprinter van on the market (check out our video here)
Resell value 💰
You are most likely not going to live in this van forever, you will either upgrade to a new van or maybe transition into a new phase in your life without a van.
So whether you plan on ever quitting van life or not its not a bad idea to think about your resell value before buying a van.
Van cost vs Interior Cost 🚚
If the van build is a lot more expensive than the actual empty van, you might have a hard time when you are going to sell your van.
We experienced this first hand when selling our first van, potential buyers loved the design and layout but a lot of them felt uncomfortable with the higher kilometres.
Luckily we ended up selling it for the asking price anyways, but it definitely took a bit longer than we expected.
On the other hand, if you buy a super expensive new van and have a particular DIY build, it is also going to be harder to find a buyer with a high budget who has similar taste as you.
You can also choose to build your van more modular so you can always take the most expensive parts from the build out and then sell the van as a shell and either put these parts in your new van or sell them separately.
Opportunity costs 📈
*Disclaimer: This content is intended to be used and must be used for information and education purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment based on your own personal circumstances. *
If you’re in the position where you can choose between buying a van cash or buying it on payments, it can be interesting to look into the opportunity cost of tying up your money in your van. Say you’re looking to buy a newer van for 50k and you have enough savings that you could either buy it cash or if you could buy the van on payments.
If you were to invest that 50k and make a 7% return that might be more than the few percent of interest, depending on the interest cost of getting your van financed it might be interesting to finance and invest that 50k instead. Say you can finance for 2.9% then you could be looking at a 4% return that you get by financing your van instead of buying outright in cash.