Vanlife: genesis

Genesis (ˈdʒɛnɪsɪs) ~ the origin or mode of formation of something – in this case of our vanlife. And no, we’re not about to pack up the apartment, sell the furniture, and store the books and record collections… But we definitely want to spend more time in remote locations. And what better way than to have a tent on wheels that you don’t have to pitch every time you arrive at a new campsite.

After months of research, we finally decided that the best option for us would be a Sprinter. And, yes, we did look longingly at the VW Crafter cause VW campers just felt so much cooler than its more distinguished German cousin – the Mercedes Sprinter. But, coolness aside, the Sprinter turned out to be the better bet. Higher in the reliability index. Somewhat surprisingly, cheaper on the maintenance score. And definitely the most spacious in its class. And, that includes the Ford Transit and other similar models.

The final deciding factor came when on Friday evening, two weeks ago, I did a random search to check prices, and spotted a low mileage, two-year-old model, long-wheel-base, 140Kw, automatic at what appeared to be a very reasonable price, not too far from us.

Saturday morning, on a whim, I suggested to Barbara we should go and have a look at this van. She called. Dejan at Arbocar in Arbon said that someone else was coming in to look at it, and he would give them first option, but, if they weren’t going to take it, we’d be next in line. About 11-ish he called and said we’ve now got the option. A two-hour train ride brought us to Arbon where the white van was waiting for our inspection. A shortish test drive later, and we offered to buy it.

The next few days were spent getting quotations for insurance. I tried to get it classified as a campervan, but it became too complicated, and decided to leave it as a ‘lieferwagen’ – a delivery vehicle. Another name for a white van. (That’s definitely going to charge, by the way…)

Thursday morning I picked up our new number plates, and in the afternoon, picked it up from Arbocar, and drove it back to Zürich!

The conversion

The work on the conversion is yet to begin. First I have to finish selling my house in the UK. But fairly soon we’ll be stripping the current panelling from the inside of the cargo hold. Take down the bulkhead that sweepers separate the cargo section from the driver’s cabin, and start with the conversion: cut holes and fit windows, air vents and skylight. Rustproof, soundproof, and insulate. Fix the electrical wiring, ready to connect to the new solar system, and appliances, lighting, and outlets. Fix plumbing ready to connect to watertanks, waste water tanks, and taps. And then re-panel the interior, fit lights and plug sockets, etc.

The next steps will be building the bed. And while we’ve got a layout in mind, we’re not making final decisions until we see that bed in the van. The space left over will dictate which way we go with the rest of the van. Where the induction stove, combi-oven, fridge, and compost toilet, etc. goes.

Then it’s time to decorate. Rustic, or modern. We’ll let the van tell us when the time is right. Rustic feels right at the moment. But that may change by the time we get to that point…

3 Comments on “Vanlife: genesis”

  1. Wonderful! Will you have walk-thru from driver’s seat to cocktail bar?

    • Pete, probably not. Thinking of using the space for galley. Nothing set in stone until bed is in place and I can get a concrete idea of space.

  2. You’re gonna use stone and concrete! I’m looking forward to seeing this ‘rustic!’

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