Spring is officially back and vans are starting to get back on the roads!
Longer, warmer days also often mean the start of van shopping season. Whether you’re looking for a new or used van, you’ll find that the market is huge and the possibilities are endless! Not sure where to start to choose the best model? We’ve got you covered! Here is our guide to help you choose your van model.
First step: defining your budget
Any good research to choose your van model starts with the choice of the budget for your project. Without this crucial information, it’s difficult to properly orient your research and avoid wasting your time on options that turn out to be too expensive.
If your budget is more limited, there is a wide range of used vans for all tastes. You can choose to buy it already converted or choose an empty cargo van and proceed with the conversion yourself. If you choose the latter option, don’t forget to include an estimate of the conversion costs in your budget to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the project.
If your budget allows, buying a new van is always a safe and reliable option. In this case, you will be sure that the van is mechanically sound and will remain in good shape for tens of thousands of kilometers. In addition, if you plan to live in your van full time, it’s sometimes worth investing in a new van to ensure that your home on wheels is always in good shape.
Second step: choosing the height of your van
It may seem like a very specific thing, but the height of your van will influence your overall research to choose your van model. In general, we can divide van models into two categories: those in which it is possible to stand and those in which it is not.
Since this aspect can have a big impact on your comfort, it’s best to make your choice before you start your search. If you’re not sure, we strongly suggest that you do the test by renting a van from each category to try it out! It’s the best way to know if the height of the van is an issue for you or not.
Finally, the size of the van will often have an impact on the price. Larger models like Sprinters, Transits or Promasters are often more expensive than smaller models like the Chevys, Econolines or minivans. You have to find the right balance between your comfort and your budget.
Third step: choosing your van model
When you decide to buy and convert a van, it’s not always easy to make a choice among all the different models available on the market. Here are some tips and advice to help you find the perfect van for you.
The famous West! The real OG of the whole vanlife movement that is still so popular to this day. This mythical van still makes many people dream while its old models from the 80’s are still rolling around. Although it’s beautiful and practical, if you are not at ease with mechanics, the Westfalia can quickly play tricks on you! Since the models being sold today are often at least 25 years old (unless you opt for the new electric model), they rarely come without surprises. Although they are a bit temperamental, they are far from being taken off the road!
- Very popular vintage look
- Easy to resell
- Well-thought-out and optimized interior space
- Quite high prices for old models
- Requires a lot of mechanical maintenance
- High fuel consumption
A newer option on the market, the minivan is very versatile and easy to access. We like the fact that it can be used as a main vehicle and then transformed only for road trips when you have a removable conversion kit. The minivan can therefore be used as both a daily vehicle and a part-time campervan! With a wide variety of setups and accessories available on the market for this type of model, this is an option we like for those who are looking for something smaller, but very efficient.
- New or used vehicle easy to find on the market
- Savings on insurance, maintenance and gas
- Less expensive to convert
- Impossible to stand up inside the van
- Smaller space
- Limited storage space
The Sprinter, Transit and Promaster have become increasingly popular as campervans in recent years. They have quickly become the ideal option for those who want a slightly larger van but are not looking for an RV. We like them because they offer enough living space and storage to be comfortable, but they are still small enough drive off the beaten path. Conversion companies for these types of vehicles are multiplying every year and the options and configurations are almost endless.
- Can sleep more than 2 people
- Several configurations are possible according to your needs
- Best vehicles for full-time vanlife
- Expensive to purchase and maintain
- More expensive to convert
- Very high demand for used vehicles
Small vans like the Ford Transit Connect, Econoline or Chevy are perfect for people on a budget who are looking for their first van. The conversion can be done very quickly so you’ll be ready to hit the road in just a few weeks. If you prefer to be able to stand upright inside your van, it’s easy to find options with raised roofs or it’s always possible to have one installed after purchase. Many people have sparked their love affair with vanlife in these van models, so don’t wait any longer to get started!
- Spacious enough to be comfortable
- Less expensive to buy
- Lots of availability for used vans on the market
- Often impossible to stand in
- Many used vehicles with rust
- Can consume a lot of gas depending on the engine
These old vans, often already converted, are very popular on the road. They come in all sorts of sizes and colors with some of the most original layouts. As they have a very unique character, these vans are very popular on the used market, so the best thing to do is to use your contacts to find a friend of a friend who sells his!
- Already completed layout
- Lots of variety
- Unique character
- Lots of mileage on used vans
- Mechanics can be temperamental
- Interior equipment is to be inspected and monitored regularly
Small converted school buses are everywhere on social media! These mini homes on wheels offer much more space than any other van model, making them ideal for larger families. Its spacious interior allows for a kitchen, bathroom and dining or living room in addition to the beds often positioned in the back. You can easily feel at home and enjoy great comfort in the middle of nature.
- Enough space for families
- Higher level of comfort
- Plenty of storage space
- Higher fuel consumption
- Can be difficult to insure after conversion
- Complex insulation due to large number of windows