The Van Who Shall Not be Named (Lord Vandemort)

Van Conversion

But, like, why do you wanna live in a van?

Most of my friends and family are well aware that I’ve been on a mission to live in the mountains for quite some time now. Every time I take a snow trip I start planning a way to be there full time for winter. As a matter of fact, when I met Zach in April I was in the process of cleaning my house out and getting it ready to rent out for the winter – the plan was to move to Colorado in September of 2018. After a few months of spending time with him, I decided to put that plan on hold to see where things went. Obviously it’s going pretty dang good. One random weekday, Zach picked me up from work for lunch and I just randomly showed him a picture of this couple that I follow on instagram that live full-time in a converted van. We talked about it kind of casually during lunch, but then both thought about it for the rest of the afternoon at work (in other words I spent the entire day on pinterest looking at van pics…duh). By the time I got home and it was brought up again I think we both knew that it was something we were both suuuper into. That week we started just looking around on Craigslist to see what was out there… which lead to obsessively looking online… which lead to looking at a bunch of different vans before we eventually found the one.

But… why a VAN? Well, for starters we’re reaaally really happy when we’re outside. Like, ecstatic. Whether it be in the ocean, or in the mountains the goal is really to spend as much time NOT in the van as possible. Having a small home that can go anywhere with us allows our lives to take so many different paths that a “normal” house can’t. Right now, the plan is to travel during the shoulder seasons but work full time in the mountains for the winter and at the beach in the summer. We’re also pretty minimalist to begin with – the idea of “stuff” doesn’t really do anything to get us excited, but the idea of being able to take our house on a roadtrip for the weekend DEFINITELY does. So… van house it is.

Why do you wanna live in THIS Van?

DISCLAIMER: I’ll do my best to explain why we chose the specific van that we did but I really have no idea what I’m talking about. That’s Zach’s department, he’s the smart one.

When we started looking online we were seeing vans with 300,000+ miles on them still priced at close to $20,000… seemed uhhhh a little crazy. And scary. We also had no idea what we were looking for but after talking to a couple really nice people in town with Sprinters and reading a ton of stuff online we decided on a few basics.

  • 170″ Wheelbase
  • Year 2005 or Newer
  • 250,000 Miles or less

Aaand that’s pretty much all we knew we absolutely had to have. We wanted the longer wheelbase because we knew we were going to be in it full time and would have to have as much space as possible (also we have a fat dog). We had heard that the models made since 2005 were more preferable to the older ones. And obviously planning to drive across the country at the bare minimum we didn’t want something with an excessive amount of miles on it.

We ended up finding something that met our requirements in Raleigh, North Carolina which is about 2 hours away from where we live on the coast. It is a 2006 Mercedes Sprinter with 248,000 miles being used for a Cabinet Company. Something about this engine being a really good one because of the 2.7L 5 cylinder engine. Apparently people have had these things reach close to a million miles. BOOM. Zach talked a little bit with the guy who had posted the ad and we drove up pretty late on a Saturday night to check it out. When we got there we realized that the person we had talked to wasn’t going to be there, but lucky for us his dad who spoke terrible english was there to take his place.. ha. But for real, he was super super nice but just didn’t really know how to answer any of the questions we had for him. So we looked at everything we possibly could while parked under the roof of a gas station during quite possibly one of the worst thunderstorms I’ve ever been outside in. The gas station actually lost power and rain was coming sideways but you know, everything is fine. We had a really good feeling about this one, especially because when we went in the cargo area of the van there were already 2 snowboards and a bunch of paintball pods in it. This is a cabinet company van, there’s absolutely no reason for that stuff to be in there. But… it was a good sign. So we drove it and everything seemed great (plus the price was waaaay lower than anything else we had seen for something with 250,000ish miles on it). We told him we would think about it over night and let him know tomorrow… pretty sure we both knew at that point that we were going to buy it, so the next morning we let the seller know. We gettin’ us a van, y’all!

Actually Doing the Thing!

Luckily, the guy held the van for us because we needed a little time to get things in order to purchase it… also we had to take the weekend off to go camping in Ocracoke, cuz… waves? So, about a week after we originally looked at it we made the trip up to Raleigh to do the thing. We were super pumped to finally meet the guy who we had been talking to over the phone and ask him some questions but needless to say, nothing goes as planned ever and we got to the DMV in Raleigh and found out we were meeting his dad again (no english) and his mysterious sister. Everything went great though, and we got to have a super fun day in Raleigh and eat some bomb falafel at Irregardless Cafe. Seriously, check that place out if you’re in the area. We drove that bad boy home and here we are. With a van to convert into a fricken’ house. Yew!

4 thoughts on “The Van Who Shall Not be Named (Lord Vandemort)

  1. My boyfriend and I are super into van life as well and have been on the hunt for the right van/bus for quite awhile now. I follow so many accounts on Instagram and YouTube all about others van life travels and experience which is so inspiring. So cool to see you guys in the same town following the same dreams. Happy for the two of you, and maybe someday we will meet up on the road!
    P.S. Random question…who was the couple that lived in a van full time when you first showed Zach about van life? Just curious to see if it’s one of the many couples I follow and love lol.

    1. This is awesome!!! You’ll find the one, just keep looking and pushing forward. And there were actually two – @confessionsofavanwife and @briannamadia 🙂 Looking forward to a Wilm Van meetup!

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