Why we Bought a Vintage Campervan Instead of Converting our Own

For those newer to our story, we thought it might be interesting to detail you how our vintage campervan came into our lives… 

After buying our first van in february 2018, a VW T4 from 1998, we were ready for our next van conversion to go full time vanlife. Even if we enjoy how convenient it is to have a small van that looks pretty discret and can fit any height limit (we have a lof of them in France!), we wanted a bigger van where you can actually live full-time the four seasons in it. With this first conversion experience in mind, even though it was pretty basic (just a bed, some storage and bit of electricity), we were able to come up with an overall idea of the costs. We roughly set a budget of spending 15k€ to buy and convert a random L3H2 van… but we quickly found that the quality we desired was just not readily available in our price range. We thought we’d buy the van in march 2019 and have it ready to travel in a year.

While we were searching for a Mercedes Sprinter online, we encountered our current Mercedes Hymer. The ad wasn’t appealing at all: barely any description and poor quality photos. Yet we felt something, so we listened our intuitions and decided to visit it the following weekend. This part was actually easy since it was located in the suburb of Paris. When we saw and drove it for the first time, it was literally love at first sight for both of us (except for the bathroom look maybe, but come on, there is a bathroom in it. This is amazing!)

Despite the fact we never considered buying this type of vehicle, we started to ask ourselves “Why not?” and weight the pros and cons of the situation. We quickly decided this was the right move for us.

Here are the four reasons why we made this choice.

#1 We save time on the conversion

By choosing to renovate an old campervan, we saved plenty of time on the conversion. We only needed to clean it, fix a couple of stuffs like the tap or the heater, add our solar panels… nothing big enough to stop us from moving in right away. Even if we would have love to convert our own campervan, the conversion process is very time-consuming and can range from a few months if you work full-time on it (which would have not been our case) to almost a year. I (Chloe) still have a job in a consulting company whereas Gürkan quit his job in an advertising agency in February to become full-time freelance for our creative studio. Our time is currently pretty limited so having a ready-made campervan was really convenient for both of us.

#2 We reduce our monthly expense

We saved and will save tons of money: no more rent, no electricity bill, no internet bill, no housing insurance literally mean more money for travel. Since we currently live in Paris due to my job (only few months left!), our rent was pretty expensive and not really worth it considering we’d always run away from the city during the weekends. Even if we were already focusing on saving money on daily basis, cutting off all these expenses was a radical change that significantly reduce our monthly expense. We also got to sell a lot of our belongings, which was liberating and brought us some extra euros. This how we moved in within two weeks after buying our campervan… we could have never done it with an empty van to build from scratch. Granted, once you live in a van you’ll have new expenses to consider like gas and campervan fees, but we’ve discovered the expenses we have now are more likely to be for experiences and less for material goods (we don’t have space for them anyway).

#3 We love the vintage look of our Hymer

Our lovely 1985 Hymer is pretty vintage… Isn’t it funny to know that your campervan is actually older than us? This model feels pretty unique (we know that’s not true but we like to feel that way), and we love it. A generic ‘traditional’ white looking campervan that we’d want to pimp out anyway wasn’t really our style but it felt like it was the only solution by that time. Today, however, the catchy look of our hymer brought too many people to us already. They always get this surprising look on their faces when they see us, a young couple, stepping out of this old campervan. We currently spend a lot of time in the famous bolder spot located in Fontainebleau, and we saw how our hymer aroused the curiosity of the fellow travelers and got them to speak with us straight away. Since we’re both very chatty people, this is an absolute advantage for us. So if you see us on the road, come and say hi!

#4 We focus on our creative studio on wheels

Gürkan and I never are entrepreneurs at heart, meaning we want to run our own business so that we could work for clients aligned with our values while we travel the world. We have a clear goal: becoming digital nomads by the beginning of 2020! This is why we left our jobs in 2019, so that we could gather our expertises and launch our creative studio on wheels. We both travel with a limited budget and time before, this time we wand to make sure there is no return date and thus establish a sustainable lifestyle. On top of that, we’ve gathered some feedback of people building their campervan while working: it’s exhausting and takes approximately 6 to 12 months if you cannot focus fully to it. This is why, based on our own situation, we decided that we’d rather dedicate to our online business than our conversion. Don’t get us wrong, if we had already established online businesses, we could certainly hop on a campervan conversion. Next time, who knows? By buying a campervan, we shortened that time and we’ll be ready to hit the road by the end of the year!

There is no better option, you should go for what feels right for you based on where you are at the moment. The ultimate goal remains the same: hit the road and travel the world!