Whether you plan to become a full-time vanlifer or build a van for the weekends and holidays, there is an essential factor to keep in mind before shopping: your budget! Having enough funds should be the top priority when starting. Your budget can make all the difference between being able to travel comfortably vs. barely scraping by (or worse yet - giving up).
Besides the vehicle's purchase price, here are some other factors that will affect how much money you spend while traveling.
FUEL EFFICIENCY ⛽
You may not think about the fuel efficiency at first when looking for a van, but there is a massive difference in how far your money will get you. Not only is this good for your wallet, but it's also better for the environment. We all know that gas prices are high these days, and most of us plan on traveling some distance with our new vans anyways. So these savings can add up quickly!
MAINTENANCE COST 🛠️
While your vehicle's initial cost could be a deciding factor, it's also important to consider maintenance costs. Different car brands come with varying prices for parts and services that may need repairing or replacing over time. As you're driving off into vanlife, this is something worth considering before making any big purchases!
To make sure you get the best bang for your buck when looking at different vans out there on the market today, think about what kinds of repairs can arise during use as well as how much those might end up costing in comparison. 🛠️
For our 3rd van, we took a calculated risk, and our new van turned out to be the Cheapest Sprinter van on the market at the time(check out our video here).
RESELL VALUE 💰
The resell value of your van is not something to take lightly. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and lose sight of what it'll be worth when you're ready for a new one, but that can cost hundreds or even thousands more than necessary!
You are most likely not going to live in this van forever. You will either upgrade or transition into another phase of your life without it, so resell value should be on the top of your mind when purchasing one.
VAN COST VS. INTERIOR COSTt 🚚
If the van build is a lot more expensive than the actual empty van, you might have to worry about selling your van.
We experienced this first hand when we sold our first one - potential buyers loved its design and layout, but many of them felt uncomfortable buying it because they thought that high kilometers would affect resale value later on down the line. Luckily we sold it for our asking price in the end, though that took longer than expected...
You can also choose to build your van modular, so you can always remove the most expensive parts from the van and then sell the van as a shell.
OPPORTUNITY COST 📈
If your circumstances allow you to choose between buying cash or a van on payments, looking into the opportunity cost of tying up your money in that new purchase can be interesting. Say you're looking at making an investment of 50k for a new van, and you have enough savings to either buy it outright with cash or finance it over time while investing that lump sum elsewhere.
If we assume 7% returns from our investments instead, there's also more potential upside than paying interest charges--depending on how much those are!
Truthfully, we can't tell you whether or not a cheaper van is worth the tradeoff. What we can do, though, is offer some advice for how to make sure that your spending doesn't go over what's in your budget and give tips on finding the right vehicle fit for you!