How to choose the best vehicle to live in.

Photos by: https://www.generalrv.com/blog/rving-101-rv-types/

Before you can plan your layout and all the details inside your new home, you’ll need to pick out your vehicle.  There are many options to choose from when converting a vehicle into a motor home. Refer to your needs assessment above to help you choose the best vehicle for your lifestyle. Consider the following:

Size

How much space do you need to be happy? Is it important to you to be able to stand all the way up? If so, you probably wouldn’t want to be in a van. Are you comfortable driving a larger vehicle? I wasn’t, so I looked into Class C motor homes, camper vans, and short buses. Do you want to be able to fit in one parking space? The amount of space you need to be comfortable will determine the appropriate size of your vehicle.

Features

Does the age of your vehicle matter to you? What about the gas mileage or the fuel type?  There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a vehicle and unfortunately, I am not an expert on vehicle shopping. Luckily for me, I have a brother who knows a lot about vehicles, and he helped me pick out my bus. If you’re not comfortable vehicle shopping, you might want to ask a friend to help you pick out the best one for you.

Vehicle Type

Is there a certain appearance you’re going for? Are you a fan of the hippie van? Or do you like the sturdiness of a school bus? There are several different types of vehicles that can be converted into a motor home and still others that are already converted or partially converted. Here is a breakdown of some of the options.

Vans

Vans are small, compact, and can go anywhere. If you want to blend in comfortably while sleeping in a parking lot, a conversion van might be the best option. However, the space is quite limited and the options of cooking, having running water, and extra space for storage is unfeasible. Your classic van comes in a variety of brands, shapes, and sizes. You could easily find one for sale at most any dealership or through online platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

Pros                                                                Cons

Easy to customize                                                   Less light from windows

Often sold at a decent cost                                    Must be custom constructed

Parts are easily accessible                                     Limited space living abilities

Blends in better in parking lots

Panel/Cargo

On the off chance that you are hoping to convert your own van, picking a cargo van can give you much more space to construct your optimal home. There is a great deal to look over and all have various highlights. A few, like the Mercedes Sprinters have a raised rooftop which enables you to stand up without hunkering.

Camper Van

If customizing the inside of your vehicle is not in the budget, you’re in luck. Camper vans are vehicles that already contain many of the amenities needed for basic living. There are many pre-constructed campers partially or fully renovated for life on the road.

Kombi (VW Bus)

Otherwise known as the Hippie Van, this is the iconic van associated with life on the road. This vehicle was introduced in 1950 by Volkswagen and has become the image of the free-wheeling, hippie life. This vehicle would’ve been my first choice, but I had to go with practicality over looks.

SUV/4WD

An SUV or Sport Utility Vehicle is a good alternative to some of the options above if you’re wanting to stand out less, but still have a reliable vehicle to live in and customize. It’s a practical, rugged vehicle ideal for rough terrain and life on the road.

Buses

If you need space and a more permanent home, a bus might be perfect for you. Buses offer more space than traditional camper vans and are often reliable vehicles that will last you many years. However, you’re probably not going to do much off-road driving or camping out in the woods. This is the option for people who might have pets or kids accompanying them and are spending more time on the road.

Pros                                                                            Cons

Space! So much space!                                          Fuel can be expensive

Less expensive than most RVs                             Larger size can be harder to drive

Your entire family can go with you.                   Trying to stay incognito is a challenge

Easy to work on and find parts                           Accelerating and stopping delayed

Lots of character

Motor homes/Recreational Vehicles

Not interested in building your home from scratch? Want all the work to be already done and ready for you to move in? An RV or recreational vehicle might be your best choice. These vehicles have already been renovated and tailored with all the amenities for life. There are three main types, class A, class B, and class C.

Pros                                                                            Cons

Huge inside living spaces                                                   Harder to drive

A lot of storage                                                                     Not quick or easy to get moving

Many options and varieties                                                Costly to buy, fix, and operate

All of the amenities for living set up

Class A Motorhome

The largest and most luxurious option of the recreational vehicles are the class A motorhomes. They’re also the most expensive. These vehicles are generally decked out for a life of luxury. If you want to live in a vehicle, but feel like you’re still in a house, this option might be for you.

Class B Motorhome

Similar to a camper van, these vehicles incorporate many of the requirements to be considered an RV. Ideal for those who don’t want to drive large automobiles or have trouble parking.

Class C Motorhome

Many people find class C motorhomes appealing because they’re a mix of A and B. They sit on a truck chassis, take up a little less space, but still have many of the features that make class A motorhomes comfortable. I found this option to be appealing because of the size.

Towable Vehicles

Towable RVs offer numerous points of interest over the full estimated RVs. They are more affordable, reliable, and can be detached from your main vehicle. If you already have a vehicle that can tow a trailer or support a truck camper, you might consider one of these options.

Pros                                                                            Cons

Tow with a wide range of vehicles                                    Hard to move in limited areas

More affordable than a full RV                                           Must know how to tow vehicles

Good for travel                                                                     No reverse driving

Travel Trailers

These are big containers with living spaces and most of the accommodations of home. They are built over a standard trailer and are outfitted with various enhancements. Travel trailers can be set up with their own water and electrical systems like many other convertible vehicles.

Fifth Wheel Trailers

The fifth wheel trailers are fundamentally the same regarding the standard travel trailer with one noteworthy exemption: they have a gooseneck connector that joins to the tow vehicle. This offers various benefits and some minor restrictions. These trailers also offer a little more space for those who want to bring more items with them.

Collapsing and Tent Trailers

Collapsing outdoors trailers are the smallest towable RVs. They are collapsible which makes them simple to store when not being used. These trailers are great for outdoor experiences. However, other essential necessities, like toilets and kitchen space, are either non-existent or limited.

Game Utility RV Trailers/Toy Hauler

These consolidate the main features of an RV trailer and game utility trailer. They are ideal for those that want to bring their ATVs, dirt bikes, or snow mobiles outdoors with them.

Other Vehicles

From school transports to ambulances, you can change over practically any vehicle into a home on wheels. Each one has its downsides and advantages. Don’t limit yourself to the standard vehicle chosen for conversion. Just about any vehicle can be turned into a tiny home.

Car

Your trusty vehicle that gets you from point A to point B isn’t often the first choice for a conversion vehicle, but it can be done. This option is usually for those living an extreme life of minimalism who want to save as much money as possible.

Ambulances

Searching for a vehicle that can deal with some mileage? A previous emergency vehicle may very well be the thing. Numerous old ambulances can be had for the right price. These vehicles have a unique appearance and a boxy frame making them ideal for living quarters.

Others?

Virtually any vehicle can be turned into a living space with the right amount of creativity and imagination. Just remember to be practical in your pursuits and prioritize safety. So which kind of vehicle suits your needs? Time to start shopping for your vehicle. I found mine on Craigslist, but there are many places to shop for vehicles. This is an important step and I discourage buying a clunker! Don’t be shy to ask your auto-saavy friends for help when shopping!

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