Jump Starting Van Life

Jump Starting Van Life

1.5 months ago I posted a video online, where I asked for your opinion, whether I should move into a car and travel full time, or whether that is a terrible idea. The feedback was so empowering and the more I thought about it, the more excited I got, so this is my van life progress in the last month:

What kind of car do I want / need  / can afford?

Currently I own a ford galaxy from 1999 with a small bed built into in, that I’ve traveled in for a total of 5 months. At first I thought of remodeling that car, to make the space liveable. For example by fitting a fodable desk on the passenger seat, without turning the airbag into a fragmentation bomb. The next essential would be, to have a kitchen inside, so that I could cook for myself, even if it rains.

Rain. Rain, in my experience, is a real buzzkill, when camping. To avoid it, I usually bribe myself into bigger campers using vine to have a space to hang out at. The other thing, that I rely on are public bathrooms or coffee shops to recharge my electronics. If my hectic flight back from Colombia taught me one thing, it’s good to not rely on anything in Corona times.

I need to upgrade:

  1. Standing height
  2. A/C not necessary
  3. Common Brand
  4. No oldtimers, even though they are beautiful
    1. Note to self: especially no old VW buses
  5. Not already furnished
  6. max length 6m, to be able to navigate in older towns
  7. Less than 200.000km
  8. Less than 7000€
  9. Less than 3,5 t

So the models in question are the typical suspects: Fiat Ducato, Mercedes Sprinter, VW Crafter, Ford Transit

=The biggest, smallest car

Timing and new ideas

While I looked at of vans online I realized that I was a little late. The worst time for buying a van in any year is just before summer. And this year it is especially bad, because what feels like all of Germany is discovering camping and I can’t compete with their budgets.

Anyways with this issues in mind I looked at some cars in person, and noticed that there is very little difference between the brands. And while I was going back and forth, somebody mentioned DHL Trucks. Those lovely yellow cars, that are definitly not the biggest, smallest car, but their advantages can’t be over seen:

  • straight walls, easier to insulate and built in
  • mercedes sprinter built, so it’s easy to get spare parts & have a very sturdy engine
  • they ‘ve got the funkiest doors.
  • stealth in the city

The negatives are:

  • due to the rushed driving of underpaid workers, the engine has suffered
  • the people that have driven it, don’t care for or own the vehicle themselves
  • the opposite of stealth on the country side
  • no warranty when buying it, as they are older than 10 years

But still, every time I saw a post van, I looked at it with googly eyes and felt those toddlers in youtube videos that see their favourite trash truck pull up.

DHL Truck in the streets

Check for catfishing, before falling for the outside

Last weekend I took the drive to see my grandfather in the south of Germany and did a little detour to the biggest car dealership I have ever seen. 90 different dhl trucks awaited me there. Now mind you that my car knowledge is quite limited, so I couldn’t just buy one on the spot. Before arriving I met a friendly car mechanic, that lived in the next village. He told me that he had bought 4 trucks from the place and all of them are still running today. Which instantly gave me a good feeling. He also promised me to look at my favourites the following monday. After 3 hours of jumping between the cars in the burning sun I found a couple that I really liked. 

The car mechanic got back to me, and told me that I need to get the lights replaced, a new battery and sand of the rust in the drivers cabin. And just like that a pair of rose-coloured glasses glued themselves on to my nose. Those were exactly the problems I had for seen as well.

And then another thing popped up. Due to some regulations I need to get a partikel filter, that filters the exhausts of old diesel trucks and is necessary to drive into most german city centers, which cost at least 1000€ to built in. But my rose-coloured glasses made me restructure my entire budget, so even that expense can be squeezed in.

Trying to take of the rose-coloured glasses, when already in love with a van

Yesterday I took the train to see the car again, and on that train ride I was trying so hard to fall out of love with that car. I need to re-check the car, see that there isn’t more rust, climb under it, do another test drive, check that the brakes properly work, because I can’t restretch my budget to fit in more repairs. I went to get a professional check done, and nothing more popped up!

So today I can tell you, that I’m now the proud owner of a DHL Truck! And now the real work begins. Stay tuned!

Standing on the back of vans
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1 thought on “Jump Starting Van Life

  1. Dear Kalina,
    congrats to your van and if you ever like to have a stop in ´Münsterland´ at Karins and my place,
    you are deeply welcomed. Please give us a call, even short-time, and we will appreciate to meet you again.
    Greetings by heart from Martin

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One September later

I’ve been writing this blog every other week for one year, so it’s time to revisit my goal with this platform.

One year ago, I had just gotten into the topic of communal living on a greater scheme than a flat share. My primary motivation for starting my own project, was that there are almost no recources on communal living out there, that describe the personal experiences from people and real life evaluations on how to make it work. Just a page, that tells you whether or not it’s cool to be there.

At the time I was living in my first self converted car, travelling between France and Spain, I went surfing every day, was inspired by people on the way, that were choosing to live life outside a 9 to 5 job. So I wrote about them as well.

When winter arrived in Europe I flew to Latinamerica with an open end ticket. Next to spanish, I learned amazing, but also cruel things from the people and their history in Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. I got by, by creating websites for small business or working for food and accomodation along the way and wasn’t planning on stopping the trip any time soon.

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But as my time and mind and also my dreams ( I once dreamt that I had a specific hinge, that I have never owned) were consumed by the van conversion, I strained further from my original goal of making communities more accesible by writing about it and sparking conversations around them and introducing interesting life concepts and inspiring people.

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Have a nice weekend and stay hydrated,

Kalina

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