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  • Writer's pictureRacquel Foran, Publisher

The Big Decision: Buying a Camper Van

After talking about it for years, and always coming up with a dozen reasons not to, we finally took the plunge and bought a camper van.

1989 Dodge 250 Ram Van with Holidaire camper Conversion.
'Van Helen'

I don't know if it's because of COVID19, or that my husband and I are now empty-nesters, or if it's because I have firmly crossed the half-century mark and my own mortality is more real, but whatever the reason, I have definitely been in more of a "why wait?" kind of mood recently. So, after talking about it for years, and always coming up with a dozen reasons not to, we finally took the plunge and bought a camper van. (#vanlife #campervan #liveinthemoment)

Back in the day when we first started fantasizing about owning one of those fancy Mercedes van conversions, we envisioned spending a lot of time driving through the USA. Being ocean lovers, the Pacific Coast Highway has always been a favourite. But there are dozens of places in the US we have always wanted to visit and we thought traveling at our own pace by van would be a fun way to explore the country. Two things changed over the years. The first is we decided we did not need nor did we want a fancy, expensive van. The second is that we now have little interest in visiting continental USA any time soon.  This isn't a political blog, so we will just leave it at that. We now plan to focus our adventures on our home turf. There's a lot to cover so we are still very much looking forward to every kilometre. (#travelcanada #beautifulBC)

Now it was one thing to decide we wanted to buy a van, it was quite another to find a decent van at a price we were willing to pay - which wasn't a lot!  We set our budget at $10,000 and started searching. We quickly discovered that when it comes to recreational vehicles, camper vans definitely seem to be the most popular and therefore least available.  There aren't even a lot of newer used high-end models available; but when looking in our price range, the pickings got really slim.

We primarily used Facebook Marketplace, but also Kijiji and Craigslist. We found the best and most listings on Facebook, but caution to Marketplace buyers, sellers are not always responsive, and many are poor communicators. We had many sellers simply never respond to our queries; and many more that weren't able to answer the most basic questions. One woman said her van was in Mission, we offered to drive to Mission to see it, she responded that she was moving it to Abbotsford on the weekend, so we said we could view it in Abbotsford and then she never responded again. These experiences made me think some people are lonely and just like getting emails and text messages. The good vans sold ridiculously fast.  Over a period of about four weeks, anything that we found that we considered worth looking at sold within hours of being posted online. 

So we widened our search to Alberta. With family there, should we find something we liked, we were able to have someone look at the van and make an offer on our behalf. When we found a van in High River, Alberta we had my husband Jim's brother (a mechanic) message the seller. As was too often the case, the seller did not respond. We thought we missed another good one. A couple of weeks passed and we had more or less given up on finding anything this summer when out of the blue Jim's brother got a response from the van's seller. The call came in on Wednesday, he viewed the van on Thursday. The asking price was $11,000 plus GST, but Jim's brother offered $10,000 plus GST which was accepted. A quick eTransfer of a $1,000 deposit and we had ourselves a van. Now, all we had to figure out was how to get it back home. 

Read the next blog for our first vanventure! (#vanventures)

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