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/ Do Vans ever work out cost effective?

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RJP - on 11 Jun 2018

Hi

Just wondering if there are situations where vans or "van life" work out cost effective vs typical car (e.g. estate) and paying the difference of the van's cost and conversion to stay at hostels and the likes?

I can only think that a van works out cost effective if you're using it all the time, like every weekend or even living out of one for 6 months at a time.

Thoughts and experiences welcome.

Dave Kerr - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Probably not but that's not why I have a van. I'm happy to pay the extra costs a van entails for the convenience and comfort. For example, there isn't a hostel at the Beinn Bhan car park and their isn't (usually) a drunk guy snoring like a chainsaw in my van.

Presley Whippet on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

No

Even on the initial outlay, no. At £15k which is a reasonably cheap converted van, that's a night in a £100 a night hotel every weekend for 3 years, without even considering extra fuel and other on costs. 

Gear that up for the latest must have VW clitoris and Claridges beckons. 

Vans are fun, flexible, convenient but they aren't economical. 

2
Wiley Coyote2 - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Probably also depends on what you sell it on for once you have finished with it

MB42 on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

I know of a few people for whom it probably does but only because as you say they use them loads, a couple work away from home a lot so probably use them >=3 nights a week, and the rest use a van instead of having a permanent home either because they work offshore so don't want a house they hardly use, or are just looking to save the cash.  

For me it definitely doesn't but as with Dave the extra cost is worth the extra convenience. The van is a luxury - but as with any luxury it makes life more enjoyable

Edit - 15k? My current one was about 4k initial outlay and my previous one 1.5k. Still not as cheap as a small car and tent though.

Post edited at 18:00
gilesf - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

There are a few more factors to take into account, one, as has been mentioned, is that you can sell your van when you've finished with it. Another is that if you use it instead of a car then you're not running a car too, which offsets the fact you have to insure, tax and maintain it. 

I have a large van based camper that I use regularly, but not as a day to day vehicle. It is a luxury but a very useful one. I can stop pretty much wherever I like, make a brew or cook dinner etc. I take my children away in it as well as just me or me and my girlfriend. Another added bonus is that I've got a toilet, lots of van enthusiasts do without this feature but I can't tell you how useful it is!

Font this year cost £140 for the Chunnel, £160 for diesel and £90 for the campsite, so looking at it like that I don't think it's too bad. Although it's 16 years old it's not maintenance heavy, campers tend to get driven far more gently and looked after better than your average work van. If you're thinking of buying a van to convert than that's something to think about!

This weekend we drove over from Sheffield to New Mills, not far but it was a night away from it all and it meant we got to the 'crag', actually a bolted viaduct, nice and early.

If you're in the Sheffield area and want to see what you get for your money and are happy to listen to me tell you how ace it is then PM me!

flopsicle - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

My van was sub 2k, no more than I'd spend on a car, a Hiace not a vw so actually runs without issues, less than 130k in miles so the garage that service it reckons it'll run sweet for a further 100k. I bought it with a bed in, home conversion, roughish but works. I pay a campsite 1 in 3 days to re freeze packs and shower, other 2 are pub stopovers in exchange for me having a meal. 

It has been the single best 2k I ever spent. Just avoid what every other Tom dick and Harry are chasing, use the same smarts as buying an old car then reap the rewards.  

two_tapirs - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to Presley Whippet:

you can get a really decent van for a lot less than 15k

Cheese Monkey - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Had ~30 nights in van so far this year "wild" camping. If you consider an average accommodation cost of £50 that's £1.5k this year. Plus dinner and lunch out that we may otherwise cook in van easy another 1.5k. So 2-3 years the van is paid for. 

1
Presley Whippet on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to two_tapirs:

Of course, yes. 

When I posted, I expected this challenge. It is a ball park figure for a good quality conversion in a reliable used van. I am sure with enough searching, travelling the country, rejecting dogs and DIY it can be done much cheaper but these estimates often forget to factor in time which could be spent earning or climbing.

I have my own van, which I am very happy with but I don't kid myself it is anything other than a luxury. 

1
cander - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> their isn't (usually) a drunk guy snoring like a chainsaw in my van.

there would be in mine ;)

 

Luke90 on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> When I posted, I expected this challenge. It is a ball park figure for a good quality conversion in a reliable used van. I am sure with enough searching, travelling the country, rejecting dogs and DIY it can be done much cheaper

Spending lots of time on it is one way to save money but the other is to just have lower standards! I think your estimate was reasonable for, as you say, "a good quality conversion in a reliable used van". If saving money is the primary aim, though, that's not necessarily what you need. You can chuck a mattress in the back of any old van and go dirtbagging around the country.

Most of us on here probably have camping stoves anyway. With the odd visit to supermarket toilets, that's all you really need.

chris687 - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

I did the van life thing for long enough to realise that financially it probably doesn't save that much if you are organised enough to find cheap accommodation. 

In terms of climbing, I found that because of the added admin associated with van life, particularly in winter (I spent a winter in the alps and a winter in Scotland) you end up missing days just to dry kit* and recover. So I now have a tiny car and pay for a hostel.

*I eventually ducted in a kind of drying room to my van

atthedropofahat on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

I bought a van for a grand and spent 1500 on head gasket and injectors. 2500 all in.

Me and my partner  have spent 30 nights in it. I've spent 13 nights in it with others. Slept in it for two months 3 nights a week and I've slept in it on trips for another 15 nights.

I've moved house using it over two weekends, lessening the stress of moving, which would have cost a fortune to rent for that long.

It's done 18000 miles in 9months.

On balance I think I'm just about winning but part of the fun is the unreliability when in Scotland the heaters broke and we had to defrost the inside of the windscreen as we drove to and from climbs. And needing to bump start it on ice every time because the injectors broke on the way to the Cairngorms and we refused to turn back! It's a lifestyle choice lol.

Ciro - on 11 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Vanlife is very cost effective. 

Mine cost £8k to buy and convert, and living in it it London for a year while working in the city saved me about £8k in rent and bills, so it had paid for itself before I even hit the road.

Since then I've spent about three years on the road in europe, and about 12 months working in the UK. Total cost of living for those four years has been about £25k, and I've lived pretty comfortably. I suppose I could be living even cheaper by hitching around and wild camping, but I doubt if have kept that up this long.

 

Big Ger - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

At the moment we're living in a van, have been for 2 months. We just came back from a 3 week SW England tour in it, and are now behind our house again.

We gave £8 k for her, she's a VW LT conversion. 

Our logic was this; it will cost us around £300 pw to rent a dog friendly house in the area while renovations are being done on our place. Work is forecast to take 4 months. We both like the idea of motorhome living, but the wife has only experienced it when we did a month in a van in NZ. She was unsure of how she would take to the UK weather in one.

We decided to risk it, and, if the van gives us the a home for the period of renovations, plus some fun trips away, we can treat the cost of it as a learning experience.

While out and about we dropped in on friends who spend 6 months of the year in their £30,000 van, mainly wintering in Spain, Portugal and warmer climes. We had a chance to see what more that van could offer us, and what we would and wouldn't like in a more expensive one should we continue to enjoy van life.

So cost effective? Probably not. Fun, so far yes.

 

 

1
jkarran - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

> I can only think that a van works out cost effective if you're using it all the time, like every weekend or even living out of one for 6 months at a time.

It's obviously going to depend to a very high degree on your particular spending choices, how much and what type of use it gets.

If you buy a fancy new motor home or trendy van on the steep part of it's depreciation curve then ownership costs are obviously much higher than for an old post office van with a bed made of old pallets, a camping stove to cook and a bucket for washing up.

If you swap nice B&B stays for a van of any kind on a caravan club sites you're not going to save much if anything, however if you swap for lay-byes you save a fair bit each visit weighed against the running and depreciation costs. If you use it a lot you probably save more, use it little it probably costs more.

If you don't go far the fuel costs associated with a van are minimal but if you're going to spend the summer touring Europe the estate car will be much cheaper to run though obviously much harder to live in than a van.

jk

 

krikoman - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> ...... and their isn't (usually) a drunk guy snoring like a chainsaw in my van.

Would you like one, I give very reasonable rates.

 

Jon Stewart - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Dunno about proper comfortable vans, but I've got a Partner and a 'boot jump' type conversion which I use all the time and would never consider paying for a hotel or BnB. A like a good layby. Since the vehicle is efficient to commute in, and living in the Lakes I do a lot of driving, it's excellent value for money.

But I'm not sure you'd call sleeping in the boot of a Peugot Partner "van life". It's got a cooker though and you can sit inside and drink wine when it's raining, so it'll do me. You definitely can't go for a shit in it, however bad the weather is outside.

kevin stephens - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Not cheaper holidays, but better holidays

george570 - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Converting a van is a dream of mine but not yet a reality. I'm self employed and my girlfriend is a teachers so we'd use it for most of the school holidays (over 10 weeks a year) and I'm selling it to her by saying we'd save money on peak flights!

I would also consider, depending on how well I fit it out, putting it on AirBNB during term time with the view to use that to pay for its tax/insurance etc. 

I reckon it doesnt matter about economy - I think it would be well worth every penny in the experience!

Big Ger - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> But I'm not sure you'd call sleeping in the boot of a Peugot Partner "van life". It's got a cooker though and you can sit inside and drink wine when it's raining, so it'll do me. You definitely can't go for a shit in it, however bad the weather is outside.

Bucket with a sealed lid, easy peasy, ( you softy.)

 

1
Yanis Nayu - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> No

> Even on the initial outlay, no. At £15k which is a reasonably cheap converted van, that's a night in a £100 a night hotel every weekend for 3 years, without even considering extra fuel and other on costs. 

> Gear that up for the latest must have VW clitoris and Claridges beckons. 

That’s the nub of it...

> Vans are fun, flexible, convenient but they aren't economical. 

 

smollett - on 12 Jun 2018
In reply to RJP:

Worked out for me financially. Spent 7k on van and did a basic job myself, prob another 1k. Lived in it for 11 months in Glasgow whilst working there and also used it for moving house more recently, not to mention all the weekends away. I needed a Vehicle anyway so would have spent at least 3k on similar standard car. May be in it again soon. If used for more than just weekends it can easily work out.


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