Remember last month when I dropped the bomb that we were going to buy a van and start traveling around the country? Well, we did it. But we didn’t just buy any old van. No, Sir. We bought us a 1994 GMC 2500 Vandura. It has a 350 engine and a 400 transmission. Now that means absolutely nothing to me, but it means a whole heck of a lot to people who know about that sort of thing. Apparently, that’s what is referred to as a “golden combo” in the van life community. Yep, and we snagged one!
Our Decision To Start (part-time) #VanLife
I’ve been fascinated with the tiny house movement and RV/Van life for a very long time. Having grown up in a 400 SF trailer (the original tiny house), I have mastered the art of living well in a small space with other people. My childhood home was perfect. Everything had a place and everything was in its place – always. I can’t praise my mom enough for making our trailer feel like a palace.
That said, I actually miss it. But, I know that my husband and daughter would never go for selling our house to move into a trailer or mobile home or manufactured home – whatever it is they’re calling them these days.
So in order to satiate my tiny living/minimalist desires, I joined quite a few FB groups last year that allows me to live vicariously through other people.
I belong to minimalism groups, vintage mobile home groups, tiny living groups, RV groups, and van life groups. All year long I enjoyed watching and commenting on their posts, but I was still left with wanting more. That’s where the proposal comes into play.
The Van Life Proposal
So when Mr. MMM suggested he sell his vehicle so we can truly live as a one-car family, I jumped on the opportunity to suggest we sell his car and purchase a van for emergencies and, well, fun!
To my surprise, he absolutely fell in love with the idea and told me that he has always wanted to travel the country in a van! What?! He’s always wanted to travel the country in a van?! I never knew anything about this dream of his. Apparently, it started when he was in middle school and he never really let it go. He just buried it, like so many adults do with childhood dreams.
Needless to say, we spent an entire weekend talking about it and researching different van styles. Read all about that weekend here!
Buying A Van For Van Life
Now, if you’re not aware, you can’t just go out and purchase a conversion van from any old dealer. In fact, I’m not even sure they’re still being made by most manufacturers. Because of this, most people in the market for such a van are relegated to such online sources as the FB Marketplace and Craigslist.
That’s not to say that’s a bad thing. Doing business privately is sometimes the best way to get a deal. But, you also have to go by what the seller says and determine whether or not you trust them.
And with that, let’s delve into our experiences with these two online sites for our mobile home on the road.
Fb Marketplace And Craigslist
When Mr. MMM and I started our van search, we naturally fired up FB and Craigslist. Not surprisingly, we found a bunch of listings for conversion vans so we started contacting people right away.
We found a great van two hours away. We drove the distance only to find out it was owned by an avid smoker. And since Mr. MMM’s mother passed away from smoking too many cigarettes, this was non-negotiable. The shame of it is that I asked if anyone had smoked in the van before we scheduled an appointment to see it. I was told no, so we drove the distance only to be sorely disappointed. *sigh*
Then, we found what we thought was the perfect van! It was the exact model we were looking for and garage kept for over 20 years. It was immaculate. Oh, except for the whole reconstructed title thing that we only found out after driving 90 minutes to see it.
No matter though, it was so nice we were willing to make a concession. We made an offer on a Sunday only to hear the following day that the owner sold it to someone else for a higher price, even after we asked him to give us a chance to increase our offer before selling it. *sigh*
The van shopping horror stories don’t stop there either, but I’ll give it a break. You get the idea.
Other articles you might enjoy:
- We Have A BIG Announcement! Hint: #VanLife
- How To Go On Awesome Free Dates
- Inexpensive Family Staycations Are More Fun Than You Think
- Our (Not So) Frugal Disney World Vacation
Ezman Auto Sales To The Rescue
Let me just say, after everything we went through with FB and Craigslist, thank goodness we found Ezman Auto Sales in Carbondale, PA!
After reaching the end of our FB/Craigslist adventure, we decided to do a simple Google search for the exact type of van we were looking for. Boom! Within a millisecond, up popped the van we ended up purchasing.
Oh, just in case you were wondering, the exact van we were looking for was a ’90s GMC Vandura 2500 with low miles. Not an easy local find.
Unfortunately, Ezman Auto Sales wasn’t exactly in our backyard. We had to schedule our trip a week in advance in order to have enough time to complete the roundtrip voyage in one day.
Lucky for us, we had another van viewing and friends to visit in between. So even if we hadn’t decided to purchase the van, it was all going to work out either way.
The staff at Ezman Auto Sales were extremely accommodating, friendly, and helpful. They even had the van pulled into one of their garage bays so we wouldn’t have to see it covered in snow. They didn’t hesitate to answer our questions or let us take it for a little spin to kick the tires.
We had a budget we didn’t want to exceed. And that budget was $4,000. After all, the whole point of this is to have frugal fun and go down to basically one vehicle for all of our routine needs.
The van was priced slightly higher than that, but the fine people at Ezman Auto Sales worked with us until we could agree on a price. We happily agreed to a purchase price of $3,800. After the agreement, we excitedly signed the paperwork and graciously accepted the keys! And just like that, we bought a van for van life and were the proud owners of a 1994 GMC 2500 Vandura with only 88,000 miles!
So if you’re ever in the Carbondale, PA area and in need of a pre-owned vehicle, I highly recommend checking out Ezman Auto Sales.
Ooh, and crushed blue velvet interior! Did I mention the crushed blue velvet interior?
Our Van Has A Name!
After much debate and agonizing over what to call our van, we finally decided on a fitting name!
We’re already busy retrofitting the interior and planning our first big 3-week road trip this summer. Look for more details in an upcoming post. Open Road, here we come!