Living the Van Life

by Kerry Hansen

With adventurous spirits, and the feeling of excitement that spontaneity brings, the Pedersens answer the call of the open road. CLICK HERE to see how Derek took this opportunity to make use of Chief Architect Software for the van restoration.

Van Life, everyone defines it differently based on their own experience. For Derek Pedersen, Chief Architect’s Sales Manager, and his family, it is not full-time van living, as it is for the many of the great folks they have met out on the road. The Pedersens are, however, called by the same spirit of adventure and an appreciation for being in nature. “We love the feeling of excitement and adventure when jumping into the van without any specific plan other than a general direction and some sites to see along the way.”

The Pedersens know that things are always a little more special when they are discovered and unplanned. “On a recent trip, our kids hiked up a stream near our camp. They came back bubbling with excitement about “the most amazing waterfall” they discovered. We followed them to the waterfall and we all had a dip in the frigid, crystal clear water. That waterfall wasn’t marked on any maps and was just one of many hidden gems we discovered on this trip alone. This was an experience we will never forget. Van Life for us is all about making memories for our family that will last a lifetime.”

“Van Life for us is all about making memories
for our family that will last a lifetime.” The Pedersen kids and their discovery. Things to Consider When Buying a Van

The beautiful thing is that no two “vanlifers” are exactly alike. Everyone has a different story that led them to this simple, yet adventurous life. Making a pro/con list is a great place to start. This list will be different for everyone and of course, it will look very different for someone considering full-time van life for an extended period of time.  This is a good place to begin evaluating if owning a camper van is right for you. Making the initial decision to buy one is the hard part. If your answer is yes, your adventure has begun, starting with finding your perfect van!

1. Budget
2. Time Devoted to Van Life
3. Number of Occupants
4. How Time is Spent
5. Must-Have Amenities
6. Storage
7. Cooking

Setting a budget is the first priority. Many van conversions do not qualify for traditional financing and financing an older camper van will be even more difficult if not impossible. Make a plan for purchasing a van with cash and/or unconventional financing. Because of lending restraints, many opt to purchase a used fleet van at a reasonable price and do the camper conversion themselves. Doing a conversion yourself is no small undertaking, however, with the proper planning you can end up with the perfect van at a reasonable price. If budget allows, look at professional van conversion options both new and used. They are available in all shapes, sizes, floor plans, and with assorted amenities, but be prepared to pay for it. 

All packed up and hitting the road.

For Derek and his family of four, plus two dogs, living full-time in the van is not a fit. Trips up to 30 days is about the limit, so it is important to carefully

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