So my Chevy Blazer died and I’m now living in a Ford Aerostar. (see blazer home conversion video here)
The Aerostar is absolutely perfect and way better than the blazer, for only $600.
I’ve built it into a pretty cool home for really cheap. I made a video showing it off, check it out!
Spending on the van so far
Buying the car $600
I sat at the self checkout at a grocery store and bought 6 tins of tuna one at a time. Taking out $100 cash with each.
Home improvements $100
$40 for the racks
$60 for the wood. A 2/10/8, two 2/6/8 and a sheet of ply wood 4/8 cut in two.
I already owned the 4 milk creates.
Cardboard boxes for draws. – free.
I already owned the zip ties I used to tie down the racks, maybe $5?
Car fixes $80
$50 oxygen sensor. Made a video of how I did that here
$30 New oil and oil filter.
free valve replacement on a tire.
6 months of Farmers insurance. More expensive because I have an Australian drivers license.
So its cost me $13690 so far with insurance ($780 before insurance!). Still less than I paid for the blazer, without considering improvements, registration, and insurance I paid for the blazer. Plus it has AC, power windows all work, so much more room and is just in better condition in general. I’m going to pass smog tomorrow, and get it registered. Which by the way, you can do without an American license!
Moral of the story, don’t buy used cars in The Bay Area, go somewhere like Reno.
Now the van still needs a few things, like some more padding for the bed. And I want to attach a water tank of some kind, I have two 5 gallon sports coolers. Just not sure the best place to put them. If anyone has any ideas, please reach out!
My plans for my van bedding and storage
Want to try living in a Ford Aerostar or van yourself?
For anyone looking to give this lifestyle a try, I have a few things I want to share with you.
1 – No toilet is not a problem. This was one of my biggest concerns. Sure, I’m a guy, I can wee pretty much where-ever I like. But pooping in public? Turns out this isn’t even a second thought while on the road. It’s literally like any other time you need to poop and are in a car. You poop the next place you stop, like a gas station or restaurant. So this problem solved itself and I didn’t even notice at first.
2 – No space. Well.. at least not very much compared to what most of us are used to. But you when living in a van, you don’t really do much of your living in actually in the van. You live around it and retreat to it to sleep.
Although storage is more of an issue. This has been the hardest part of living in a van. Although, after living in a small truck for a month beforehand, the van is an upgrade which makes it feel amazingly roomy. But, after cutting down extra stuff you don’t need, you can make all sorts of cool storage units like my indoor roof racks, and elevated bed to store you belongings.
3 – No Kitchen? No worries. Having no kitchen is not the big problem you might think. There are many solutions to making this comfortable. One is, getting an AC inverter for your battery and a rice cooker.
Why a rice cooker?
Well it doesn’t take much juice to run, so I can run it off my inverter plugged into my battery, which I recommend only doing while the engine is running so you don’t kill you battery. Rice cookers, can do so much more than rice. You can make soup, boil eggs, and frankly cook whatever you want in it. I’m going to try scrambling eggs next, but I haven’t had the chance because I haven’t needed to use it that much. Actually, much at all.
Why? Because I’ve had access to a kitchen nearly every night. From either public spaces like hackerspaces and makerspaces to friends houses. The best way to get into someones kitchen is offer to cook them dinner. Who doesn’t love a good little dinner party now and then.
And of course, if you are out in the middle of no where. You can always start a fire and stick a pan on it, or use a camp stove. I’m actually thinking about investing in a portable BBQ too.
4 – No fridge. Fantastic. Well my meat intake has definitely decreased significantly, in fact I was nearly vegetarian for a month without even knowing it. But it turns out, other than meat and milk, a fridge isn’t so necessary.
Eggs will last a while out of the fridge, if I buy 6 at a time they will be gone in two or so days. I started buying a dozen, just because I eat them so fast.
Cheese, doesn’t really need a fridge either, cheese was invented to store milk before refrigeration.
Fruit & Veggies, sure they wont last as long. But I don’t have the room to be planning more than a week ahead anyway, if that.
Bacon, its been smoked. Just eat it in a few days.
Milk? I avoid it owning any and used powdered milk if I need it. Or if I’m at someone else’s house cooking, I ask to borrow theirs.
5 – Running water. Unless you are in the middle of nowhere you can usually find running water really easily. But I carry 5 gallon sports coolers for a backup running water. Haven’t needed it yet though. So another non-problem.
So there you have it, Van life is probably easier than you thought. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to try something crazy like living in a Ford Aerostar. Let me know what you think the hardest part of Van life would be in the comments or find me on facebook, and I’ll tell you how I manage with it.