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Back on the Coast

Back on the Coast

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Home, My Van

When I first got my Aerostar, I wasn't planning to live in it. It was going to my mini RV, a portable pup-tent. You know, something to go camping for the weekend, and for extended road trips. Little did I know! While up in Whistler, a couple of years back, vandwelling was the thing to do, so 'Aero' became my home.

Most vandwellers usually find a mini-van too small for their needs, but, I have adapted to the compact space. I would define my home on wheels, as a mobile sleeping pod, with adequate storage. I don't cook food in the van; I tailgate and picnic in public parks. I don't wash up in the van; I shower and shave at a convenient rec centre. Working full-time and taking off on the weekends, I don't really hang out in my van, more kinda around it. During the midweek evenings, I'm either visiting friends, going to the gym, library, cheap night at the movies, the pub, and so on. On the weekends, I usually visit my folks, or friends, specially Dave's cabin in Whistler, or jam at Eric's studio in Sooke.

I really only stealth sleep or drive around in the van. The weather here is very temperate, so it doesn't really get cold in the winter (usual lows, 4 degrees C or 39 degrees F), or very hot in the summer (usual highs, 27 degrees C or 77 degrees F). So, it's mellow, no real extremes. This allows me to live comfortably, out of doors most of the time, which a mini-van will force you to do. My mini-van parks easily on congested city streets.

If I lived in a colder climate or wanted more of a compact bed-sitting space, I would definitely go with a nicely setup, full size van. Most vandwellers seem to choose a full size van. When I move to the next city, which is less congested, I'm gonna be thinking a lot about up scaling to a Ford E-series van, for example. You could hang out more comfortably inside, have more storage, etc. We are all different folks with varying routines, wants, needs, and climate, so what works for me, will be different for you. Camper vans, motor homes and cube vans, aren't a option for me. I want reasonable fuel economy, and for me, the ability to stealth park is too limited with these vehicles. However, if I was mostly out in the countryside, they could be an excellent option.

When buying a vehicle, leftover lifespan, mechanical condition, and affordability are prime considerations. I like buying vehicles with less than 100,000 miles, which have been maintained well, and are cheap as possible. I bought my Aerostar for $1,500, with 76K on the odometer, plus spent a extra grand for some glass work, brakes, tuneup and new battery. Vans make an expensive lawn ornament, and the urban parking nazis don't like vehicles that are stationary. I always keep my vehicle it top mechanical condition, for safety and reliability. The Aerostar is still a very common vehicle; new and used parts are readily available, and a lot of mechanics are familiar with them. Also, my 'Aero' gets around 20% better fuel economy than a full size van.

Take your time before you spend your hard earned cash. It took me some searching to find out what I wanted, and get a good deal. Read the forum on Vandwellers Yahoo Group, check out my links to Vandweller's Den, CheapRVLiving, Hobo Stripper & CarLiving, for wise and sage advice by experienced vanners. Talk to trustworthy mechanics and experienced couriers. They'll tell you what's good, and which vehicles to avoid.

Happy Trails!


Anonymous said...

Hey great site! An interesting little nook of the internet you have here. I didn't think there was anyone else out there with such an arcane and esoteric interest in this sort of thing. Glad to see I was wrong. I recently bought an extended aerostar myself and am in the process of converting it to a "stealth camper" as you say, so I'm reading what you say about the subject with great interest. I don't really plan on living out of my van all the time, but I do wish to take extended forays here and there across the state and country and use it as my home away from home. And of course stealth camping will be a part of that! I also plan on one-upping you on just how far you can go with an aerostar. I plan on having a shower, a small kitchen, a toilet, an entertainment-communication center and still have room left over to haul things and stretch out in comfort too. I'm also going to go for at least 25 mpg highway. Not possible you say? It's possible, it just has to be thought out carefully and then executed with minimalism and "zen" as you speak of in your blog. Hopefully I'll get to share some of my ideas with you in the future. Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures and advice too. Thanks for putting up an interesting and very unique site in the meantime - I'll be reading along with great interest, as I'm sure quite a few others will be as well!

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