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Finding our Home on Wheels


This was no small feat. After saying "yes" to this adventure, picking the right vehicle was easily the next most important step. It took us a few months to find the one. We wanted a balance between comfort and practicality without breaking the bank. We are, after all, living in the thing!

So for those of you who own a home, you could compare this to house hunting but without a realtor to help you over the speed bumps. (pun intended).

Our lives quickly became consumed with searching the web for a vehicle within 100 miles of us that would work for our vision and budget. We found ways to slip the terms "gas milage", "pop top" or "creeper van" into every conversation we had.

So at this point, you're probably wondering - How much did you spend on your "new home"?

Our travel budget was originally $3,000 a month, that included food, gas, camping, etc. (We will go into more detail about this in future blog posts.) We also budgeted $4,000 for the new ride. Read further to see how much we actually spent...

But before we disclose all the personal stuff we want to take you through the ups and downs of finding the perfect "home on wheels".

Erin's Kia Soul

Looking back it's hard to think we could even make this possible. But at this point in our planning we were oblivious of what we actually wanted to accomplish.

Pros: Already owned, new, decent gas milage.

Cons: Can't. Even. Small AF.

Borrowed Camper Van

Once we talked about shoving all of our belongings into a Kia Soul, we quickly starting thinking of better alternatives. We made a few calls and texts to see if the trusty ol' camper van that belongs to Erin's grandparents would be available for a few months. Short answer was no. There are several reasons why this option didn't work out for us but we are very happy with the end result.

Pros: Possibly a cheaper option, No interior buildout required.

Cons: Needed some maintenance, Worried about breaking something that wasn't ours, Having to give it back :(

Purple 2004 Dodge Conversion Van

This was our first heart break in the van search. When we came across this high-top conversion van on craigslist we thought it was too good to be true. It was in excellent condition, very low mileage, and it fit perfectly in our budget. We told the seller we would be there the next day to take a look at it, but it was sold in the blink of an eye. So we were back to the drawing board...

Pros: Could stand more comfortably.

Cons: Poor gas mileage, Need to build out ourselves.

Volkswagen Vans

MJ's Expectations

Erin's Expectations

We looked at more of these than we have fingers and toes. I mean it's everyones dream, right? When we tell people we are going to live out of our van they ask two things: "Is it a Volkswagen?" and "Is it DOWN BY THE RIVER?" To be completely honest, we are a little disappointed that we weren't going to be part of the huge Volkswagen community, they are passionate, supportive and downright awesome.

Pros: Cool AF, Community, Dream Van

Cons: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, always need repairs which = more $$$$$$$$$$$$.

1988 Chevy G20

* Not actual Van

We searched near and far for the perfect van. We found one on the Fort Wayne, IN Craigslist that we were immediately fond of. It had a pop-top that would make standing up easy and comfortable. It had storage cabinets built into the back and it also had cabinets and a sink built into one side of the van. Of course, we would want to change some things but the layout was there and the possibilities were endless. We were excited about this opportunity and scheduled a test drive. When we pulled up, Ol' Betsy was hooked up to another vehicle getting a jump. This raised our initial concerns - the van was nearing 30 years old! When we finally got it started we took it for a little spin around the block. The rattling and clunking and other mysterious noises confirmed that if we were to purchase this van we would need to put some serious money into it. We rattled off a few things we would need to fix immediately and down the road. We liked it's bones and were a little anxious for our trip so nothing scared us off. We put in our offer of $2,000 which was denied. We ended up walking away van-less and for the next two weeks we were doubting ourselves. We couldn't find anything we liked nearly as much as that one. We made pros and cons lists and we finally we decided we would pay the $2,500 asking price. We planned to make a trip back to Fort Wayne later that week to drive home the ol' lady but we didn't quite make it there. The day before we were supposed to make the trip we received the dreaded text message we had already received multiple times - "Sorry man, I sold the van."

Long story short - the search continued.

Pros: Pop-top, Standing Room, Built-in Sink/Cabinets

Cons: Old and needed work = money, Unreliable = Stranded in the desert?

2002 Chevy Astro AWD

Another craigslist find, however, this one had a happy ending! We found this beautiful white AWD Chevy Astro on the Cincinnati Craigslist page. We were scared to message the seller because we thought for sure it would be sold. We ended up both messaging him and made an appointment to see it a few days later. We. Were. So. Nervous! You better believe we made it to Cincinnati before it was sold!! (Big sigh of relief).

Luke (seller's name) bought and built out the van in Alaska. A real badass if you ask us. Luke and his girlfriend traveled down through Canada into the United States. After traveling over the west coast, they ended up in Cincinnati at Luke's parents house. They were selling their van (now our van) before returning to Alaska.

Luke was amazing to work with. He gave us all sorts of tips on traveling and on the van. He even threw in a cooler, fire extinguisher, storage totes, jumper cables and more. There was NO way we were leaving Cincinnati without that van.

$4,400 and an hour later we were on the road back to Indianapolis. There were so many thoughts going through our minds. Did we really just buy a van to live in? Yes, yes we did.

HOLY SHIT WE JUST BOUGHT A VAN AND WE ARE GOING TO LIVE IN IT.

Even though this was several months ago the excitement hasn't worn off. Honestly, there is a lot that happens between buying a van and adventuring in a van. Please stay tuned for the next steps in our adventure. We're leaving Indianapolis at the end of July, 2017!

Pros: Ready to rumble - THANKS LUKE!

Cons: Can't stand up, but who really needs to stand up? ;)

It just dawned on us we should have named our van Luke instead of Luna. #hindsight2020

P.S. Luke if you're reading this, please send us a message! We lost your phone number.

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#Van #ChevyAstro #Astro #RoamtoHome #Travel #VanLife #VanBuild #vanlifers #vanlifemovement

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