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Old 09-27-2020, 07:33 PM   #1
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Question Absolute newbie seeking purchasing guidance and more

So I've been noodling around online looking at "vanlife" and class b's, because I think after my caregiving stint is over, I'm going to take the Great American Road Trip Adventure to find my last home. I believe a degree of stealth, or at least easy parking, is why I'm landing on class b's, along with easier driving and less cost. If I had more time, I'd probably try to build my own, but with my duties with my dear old long suffering mother dear, I really won't have the time.

I've been doing fairly scattershot research and reading to this point and am just getting genuinely serious about finding The One, if you will, and making a purchase. I understand this year with the virus to be making this all a bit trickier, so I've been shopping nationwide to educate myself, but know not being able to assess in person is probably a no go, unless it's a convent or something as seller. (Maybe I should retract that, since I did go to a Catholic high school.)

Anyway, what seems to be best fit for me at this point is a near 2000 Pleasureway give or take. The Adventure just being me, a middle aged, or old depending upon your perspective and need to flatter yourself, unfinicky type, but not wanting to feel like I'm living "in a van down by the river", I want it to be comfortable enough, even if it seems like the RV industry in the late 90s early aughts was having some sort of 70s porn redux with all the pinks and blues, but I can live with that. Most important is cost, reliability, and coffee and a dump in the morning, since I expect to live in the thing for at least a few months and maybe as much as a year or longer.

What I'm seeing says my neighborhood of $20k seems to be workable, but I'm really wary of those higher mileage, closer to two or above clicks of six figure miles. I have also seen some with five figure mileage on the lower side of $20k, in particular one that came and went really quickly just a few hours north of me. I saw another class b closer to 30 years old and just over $10k in Portland have its listing disappear as I was going to ask my nephew to go look and that would've been reasonable to me, because it would leave room for major repairs, if they were necessary.

I'm handy, but not "technical", I think is the word I'm hearing you experienced types using, but I'll be explicit that I am NOT a mechanic. Youtube is my friend and I have and can use tools, but I also know experience is a way better friend that might have me learn more during my adventure, due to necessity, but I'm not magically going to understand what you techies are talking about, when you get into specifics in these forums overnight. My experience and skills are more in and around stationary homes.

I think I can have my adventure chase the weather, so using a generator will probably be less important and I wouldn't use it in stealth anyway, but it would be nice to have some of the functions like the fridge and stove or microwave. Like some other newbies's post, I'll be trying to figure out the most basics about managing the machine and features, if I'm surprised and my adventure starts sooner rather than later.

Long winded, as usual, and long way round, I'm looking for guidance on purchasing within the parameters of what I've described, particularly any galling admissions you experienced sorts might see in what I've written, but then also any pointers on purchasing and preparing myself properly for what I'm planning. And/or any ideas that might redirect me, if you think what I've described might be better suited with something outside of my conceptions as described.

As it's looking right now, I'm probably months from beginning, but the reality is everything could change overnight with mother deciding she's apparently not too mean to succumb to her cancer and send me scrambling to get it together and underway.

So, this was my opportunity to prattle about my situation. Now it's your turn to dazzle me with your knowledge and experience, if you're so inclined. I'll keep reading, researching, and shopping and say a big thanks in advance.

Big thanks in advance!
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Old 09-27-2020, 09:22 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

God bless you for taking care of your mother. I don't know if you are the only family member that can help, but I was in a similar situation years ago. Two brothers moved away and the other local one was of little help. When you look back on this time, you will not regret being there for her, even though it delays your travel plans.

Sounds like your class b plans are solid, based on your priorities. They are easy to drive & park. I cringe when I see folks buying 20+ year old vans (some with 150K-200K miles), not counting the coach components being the same age. But it's done all the time and I don't recall anyone posting their regrets. Just not for me.

If you can't afford a relatively modern "b" (2010 or newer), then I might lean towards building your own. Lots of options, it just always comes down to how much money you have to spend. And right now in todays hot "seller's market", it may cost a lot.
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Old 09-27-2020, 10:58 PM   #3
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Thanks. It is challenging, but I am glad to do it, most days. I have siblings, but none local. We do have a paid caregiver for part of the day, but that would be my only time to work on building my own van, because mother dear also has dementia and requires constant supervision, so with any and everything that needs done falling in those hours, my build time is just too limited, unless she lives for another year or so.

You have the same concerns as me on the older with high mileage, so I am hoping that some of the folks who've either done the same or are more experienced with them might chime in to alert me to any potential pitfalls or problems or things to assess to guide me.

I could spend more, but I'd just prefer not to and from what I've searched and found so far, it seems like better deals with older vans with lower miles do come on the market, but I just have to be prepared to jump on them, if I can.
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Old 09-27-2020, 11:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Idiot View Post
. . .it seems like better deals with older vans with lower miles do come on the market, but I just have to be prepared to jump on them, if I can.
Demetia is a witch. Luckily my Mom did not suffer much from delusions and just slowly withdrew from the world.

Your quote above is the key. Doesn't mean you buy the first van you see, or any van for that matter. But if a good value is out there, it will go fast. So you do need to check them out quickly to rule them in or out.

Good luck.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:52 AM   #5
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It really is and such a shame that our living longer means it is more and more prominent. It's a heartbreaker, because her own mother died after a long battle with Alzheimer's and she's now become everything she hoped she wouldn't.

Exactly on the shopping and class b's and other options. I believe I'm ramping up both my research and shopping with enough time to be selective and know when I'm seeing that deal that should be right. I'll keep on reading and hopefully some who are comfortable swimming in the waters I'm trying to, will maybe chime in with some greater guidance, too.

Thanks for yours. It's appreciated.
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Old 10-11-2020, 06:23 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum! I wish you the best with your caregiver role. I took care of my mother with cancer and later, my former partner who had a myriad of physical problems as well as dementia. Both were the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done... although I was exhausted at the times.

I think this is a good time for you to begin looking at Sprinters. My opinion is that a lot of folks are buying them up because of COVID, but when we return to "normal", they may sell them. We bought ours 2 years ago with little research and even though we absolutely love it, we had no idea of the learning curve. People might be using them for the interim and then put them on the market in a year. Pure speculation of course.

Living in the Bay Area, ours is also our earthquake "kit" and well as our fire evacuation vehicle. While we didn't buy it necessarily to live in full time, it's reassuring to know we could.

Good luck in your search and don't forget to take care of yourself while you are the caregiver.
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Old 10-11-2020, 07:26 PM   #7
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Hello The I,

I too have had a Catholic education K-12th grade (all girls high school), had a mother in law with dementia and was a caregiver for a few months for my Mom as well, so were coming from the same place. We had a cab over camper on a Toyota Tundra and sold it last October. Just this week we sold our Toyota to pay the tax and licensing. We will be getting our Solis mid November.

We looked at everything....VW camper, used van's, van's with and without conversation, new van's. We decided on the Solis, it has everything on our list. Toilet with Shower, refrigerator, 2 burner stove, queen bed, and has a pop top that we think will help with re-sale. We did not want to be stranded on the side of the road at our age so we bought new.

Yes, its well over your budget however please take a few things into consideration......the loan is a 20 year RV loan our monthly payment is around $400. We plan on owning it for about 5 years and enjoying it to the fullest. Thankfully we did the same with our camper and when we sold it we paid off exactly what we owed. Also, the interest on the payment we were able to take apply that towards our taxes because its considered a second home.

Another idea is waiting until folks that bought their Rv's to travel during Covid realize they either do not like the camping lifestyle or are ready to move on. So the RV & boat sales eb and flow and now they are in high demand and I think in 6 months there will be many more choices out there.

I see your in California and we bought our Solis from La Mesa RV in San Diego from Mike Daniels 619 244-6145 and they have the best lowest prices of anyone I have heard of and we had a great experience with Mike.

I wish you all the best in your search and in your care for your Mom. She is blessed to have you. Good luck!
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Old 10-11-2020, 09:19 PM   #8
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I started building a van, would still like to finish it at some point but I ended up buying a camper van. Buying is much easier...

I was in the middle of the build when my dad was diagnosed with what you are struggling with now. I had already been taking care of him but everything changed once they dropped the hammer and pulled his license, I still think it was premature but better safe than sorry. I needed to have something NOW. I found a 1998 Xplorer I ended up getting it for 4200 and a couple thousand getting it in shape. It was perfect as it has twin beds in the back and dad and I went on several trips camping and fishing last year.

When I started building the first van I thought I would do the gym membership thing and maybe to an airbnb every couple weeks to do laundry and stretch out in a big bed. I thought it would be OK to rely on a bucket for a toilet when camping and there were public toilets everywhere. Then Covid hit, I found myself in the camper van out of state by myself dad with my sisters. I was so thankful for a complete camper van.

Covid forced me to use all the features and functions of the camper van to the fullest as there were no gyms open, most public restrooms were closed, even to customers. I didn't want to do airbnb because who knows who was just there and how well it was cleaned. More meals were cooked in the van, really everything for about 5 months happened in or around the van. I ran the AC on the generator everyday. The rig had 700 hours on the Generator before Covid it now has 1500.(I had no plans for a generator on my build) The only thing I didn't have that I wanted was an oven, I fixed that when I got home with a convection microwave/air-fryer/oven and it works awesome.

I really started living in the van around 300 days ago when I left for Christmas but when I came home I kept living in the van. I never fully transitioned back into the house. I have the support of my house for power, showers, toilet, laundry etc. After the 5 month Covid ordeal I don’t really want the huge house anymore.

So what do you need? I found that you really don’t have to do without at all. This silly little van has everything I need, everything else is just stuff. I would try to find the vehicle that duplicates as many features that your house has. The only thing I don’t have, that I wish I did, is a washer and dryer but that would be pretty impractical. I actually had to use a laundromat for the first time in my life and it was kind of cool to have 5 loads going at once and be out of there with all my laundry done in less than an hour but it wasn’t what I would call inexpensive.
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Old 10-11-2020, 09:44 PM   #9
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Congrats on your decision...we too went with an older Class B, but not as old as you are considering. We have a 2005 Roadtrek (Sprinter) and love it.

Some things about the diesels, NADA has an annotation in the evaluation formula "For diesels do not deduct for mileage." At 15 years and 140k miles I would say that is a valid assessment. Not to mention that 22 mpg on the highway is pretty phenomenal.

But also recognize thatclass B's jam a lot more atuff in less space and that comes at a cost. In the price range you mentioned you may have more success with a small C or something like a Rialto.

Good luck with your search, you are in the right place for info and advice.
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Old 10-11-2020, 11:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses. Mother dear and I are chuggling along, but I jumped the gun a bit, thinking I was looking at that deal I was hoping to find and it wasn't going to last, so.... I bought it.

It's 91 LER Industries (90 Dodge Ram 350), very similar aesthetics and layout as a Roadtrek of the same era. The two keys to the purchase was the price was right and the thing only has 15k miles on it, pretty meticulously recorded, particularly from the two women who bought it new.

I'm trying to find a mechanic in San Diego, who can do a slightly tardy presale inspection. All the RV mechanics are super busy (I have an appt with one, but it's two weeks out.) and most car shops are intimidated by the weight. I'd take any recommendations, if anyone's got them to offer.

I'm probably going to post another on this newbie thread, once I've got a fuller understanding of my questions.

Oh, I might wind up using that "buy after covid" strategy on the next round, if it turns out I like living in this thing and think upgrading a touch would make sense. As it is, I've got a good budget, on the relative scale, for planned, potential, and surprise costs, but I think I got a fundamentally sound platform to customize that should be perfect for the one man show I'm going to be.

Best. And thanks again. Cya round here soon.
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Old 10-12-2020, 01:49 AM   #11
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Well congratulations on your purchase. Being in California, there are 2 excellent RV mechanics. I know they work on Roadtreks, probably yours too (although I have never heard of that company).

Tony Pineda, Premier RV Repair, near Palm Springs Beaumont, CA.
Email only contract: premier.rvrepair@yahoo.com

The other equally cherished is the legendary Dan Neeley, who travels on a typical regular schedule throughout California. (however the ongoing pandemic has curtailed his services temporarily hopefully)

http://dneeleyrvservice.com

You can check Dan's website to see where he is and what he is doing. Tony used to travel to do pre-purchase inspections as long as you paid for his travel time. I don't know if he is still doing that because of COVID and he had a stroke earlier this year, but he is working in his shop again. You might want to contact either or both of them, but I expect it might still be a wait.
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