What kind of a van should you buy?
Choosing the perfect van is time consuming. The destination and amount of time spent on the road sets different standards on a van. Especially if you intend to live in the van for longer periods of times, it’s worth doing the research and searching for that perfect fit. In our experience, vans in Northern Europe are in high demand, especially from spring to fall. There are expensive ones, but reasonably priced cars in good condition between 8-20 k € are sold incredibly fast.
Here are a few pointers to consider:
- The size of the car:
- The smaller the car, the more convenient
- A car over 5.5 meters is difficult to fit into a normal parking space
- The streets of cities in Europe are narrow, a small car makes it that much easier to move around
- A big car has more room, but do you really need to bring that much stuff? Our philosophy is “collect memories, not things”
- The age of the car
- New cars are comfortable and have all the amenities, but may be more difficult to repair
- The old cars are more rugged, but the technology is easy and most local repair shops know how to fix breakdowns
- Older cars are much cheaper, but will most likely brake down sooner
- Expensive things to fix are: engine, turbo, heaters and refrigerator
- In a new car, the potential bumps and scratches don’t feel good, whereas, to an old car they just add character
- An old car gives you more sympathy and friends 😊
- The price of the car
- A new campervan starts off at around 40K €. A new car is nice, safe and it has guarantee. On the downside, it will most likely attract more unwanted attention, than the more dated versions
- When buying a used car, always count in the costs of repairing
- The gear
- Having a fridge is almost a must. The best option is a compressor fridge, that works on battery and is low in power consumption. These types are often used in boats. This way you don’t have to worry about gas leaks etc.
- Alternative current is a nice bonus. This can be achieved by and inverter or having the option to plug the car into electricity.
- A toilet is a plus. You’ll use it. At the very least if you get hit by food poisoning.
5.Heating and insulation
- A heater is a must if you plan on travelling Europe off season. We recommend any kind of diesel driven heater, such as a Webasto. They are safe, and there’s no need to play around with gas. The problem with gas in Europe, is that all gas bottled are different, which makes replacement a hassle. Diesel, on the other hand, can be found anywhere.
- Insulation keeps the heat inside during winter and outside during the summer. An insulated car is therefore a much more comfortable option.
6.Electricity / solar panel
- If you are using the van for recreational purposes, a recreational battery is a must. This means having another battery in addition to the starter battery. By having another battery, you ensure not running out of battery for your engine, and you van always cruise off to another fabulous location. The recreational battery should charge as you drive the car.
- If you plan to live off grid for longer periods of time, a solar panel will prove handy.7.The layout
- Living in a van means living in a small space. The use of space is very important. This is really up to your own taste, but here are some things we’ve found along the way. Our first van was one “big” living space with a bed that folds out from the sofa/ dining area. Our current van has a “separate bedroom” with the bed across the van in the back, making the dining area tighter.
- We are definitely in favor of the second layout. Having the bed slightly elevated across the van at the back, leaves plenty of storage space under the bed. The front is big enough for us to eat, cook and work in, and the driver’s seat can be turned around so that it creates a small living room. This makes the van almost into a one-bedroom apartment, where you can spend time apart from each other. This keeps the relationship sane as well 😉 One big bonus is also the fact that in this layout, one of us can sleep or spend time in the “bedroom” while the other one can go about their chores. The other layout meant that if one was asleep, the other one could not move in the van at all as the bed was folded out.
- The downside of the layout is that the beds across the van are quite small, they are not made for tall people. We are quite short, both under 180 cm, and for us the length is perfect. For taller people, this might be an inconvenient layout.
Good luck choosing your van, we love our own Lörppö. If you need any more tips, send us a message!