How to Make Vanlife Zero-Cost | Access Affordable Travel

last updated: Sep 17, 2023

“I’M SICK OF SEEING THESE TRUST FUNDERS ON YOUTUBE” the commenter screams in all caps. Yawn. This was not the first time, and it is probably not the last!

Now, this sort of comment screams someone who is not thinking through the basic logic.

vanlife trust fund comment
One of many ‘trust fund’ comments.

Let’s face it, rich kids do not buy second-hand vans, build them out themselves (with pretty basic appliances) and then live frugally as they travel around climbing rocks. The trust fund kids are more likely to buy a top-of-the-range van conversion, with all mod cons, perhaps custom-made by an expensive conversion firm, and most the time it is parked outside a house that they actually own.

So, where does this attitude come from?

Well, like most aggressive comments, they are from people who know practically nothing about you and it is probably some form of projection. They think “I cannot imagine affording this” therefore… “they must have been born rich”.

It is lazy thinking and I have always thought it to be pretty ironic – especially as most remotely well-off people are buying an actual house at 30 years old – not moving into the back of a slightly beat-up Ford Transit.

The other bit that didn’t make sense is that I KNEW that owning a vanwas not going to cost me anything.

My plan was to buy a van, do a decent job fitting it out, and then sell it for break-even – or a profit – three years later. And this is exactly what I did. I sold my first van after using it for exactly three years, and turned a modest profit of $500. Basically, I had gained three years of free rent and travel for the effort of 17 days of work.

This felt amazing!

Owning a van and travelling with it for three AMAZING years didn’t cost me a dime – but that said, it would have been a bit nicer to turn a profit and, in reality, I made some mistakes with the first van.

So I converted another van to continue my journey. However, with this van – again I used it for three years – but this time I sold it for an $18,000 profit. Now as you can see, there is a pretty big difference between my first van and my second van in terms of profit.

What was the difference? And more importantly, how can you apply what I figured out to your own van conversion?

In this article, I will outline the basics of how to make owning a van free, or profitable.

Over the years, I have developed a process that I call ‘The Profitable Van Conversion Method’ that allows you to live Zero-Cost vanlife. If you want to understand this in detail – more than I can provide in this article – please sign-up for my free online training on this topic.

So, what did I do differently?

Firstly, I was more conscious of future buyers’ needs; how much people are willing to pay and for what.

Secondly, I converted the van out with the appliances and features that matched the expectations for the budget range I was targeting.

Thirdly, I completed the conversion at a quality level that was befitting the price point I was aiming for – and matched with my abilities.

This avoided the mistakes I made in my first van – which I had fitted out for my needs only. It did not have a big ceiling vent, it did not have a toilet – nor shower (I used a shower bag) – and it had a pretty basic water and electric system. The craftsmanship was good – but I could have done so much better if I had put in the extra effort.

It is true that it was perfect for my needs – I loved it – but my needs are not the same as the perceived needs of people who want to buy a ready-made camper van.

van conversion high quality
My second personal van – much more expensive upfront, but also more profitable in the long-term.

So, what I want to suggest to you – if you are thinking of going into vanlife – is to really see building out a van, not as an expense, but as a zero-cost (or potentially profitable) journey. Of course, your money is tied up in the van while you use it, but when you release it at the end – it all comes back to you.

Not only that but while you live in the van, you are probably not paying rent – saving thousands, you are travelling to beautiful places and living whatever dream it is that draws you to van life. If you add the ability to make money as you travel, then it is the perfect combination!

This really changes the calculation.

Now, when we look at it like this, we obviously do not have to be a trust funder to buy and fit out a van – just someone with a job who is able to focus on building up some savings and spend some time converting a van. This is accessible to most people – of course, not all – but most.

If you want to know the full details – how to assess your local market, how to balance your skills to customer expectations, and most importantly – learn the Golden Rule of budgeting for a profitable van conversion – join my free online training.

Online training status: ACTIVE TODAY


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The guide anyone can use to convert a van into a camper! With over $350 worth of savings inside

Do you want to live vanlife at zero cost?

Nate Murphy knows how to buy vans, convert them quickly and efficiently - use them for years - and then sell them for a profit. This can make vanlife not just free, but profitable!

He has successfully done this for years and he teaches his friends and students to do exactly the same. It is not obvious, but anyone can do it if they have the knowledge!

Join Nate at his free online training (running today) and he will teach you exactly how he does this!

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