Buying a camper: Our worst nightmare

Home » Blog » Buying a camper: Our worst nightmare

When you want to travel with a camper, one thing is extremely important. Exactly, having a camper. Since we did not have a camper yet, but had the dream to conquer Europe with our camper at some point, we were left with a difference between reality and what we wanted to do in the future. Things to do? Right: Buying a camper.

Buying a camper

For someone with choice stress (Mariska, not me), buying a camper is a cringe-worthy experience. It is clear that the answer to the question “What kind of camper do you want to buy?” is not “A white one”. There are simply hundreds if not thousands of different options, combinations and factors to consider when buying a camper. You can think of fairly important things like:

  • The price
  • The year of construction
  • The type of camper (integral, semi-integrated, bus camper/van or alcove model)
  • The mileage
  • Whether the interior does not suck
  • The height of the camper (I’m quite tall)
  • Air conditioning
  • Solar panels
  • The overall condition of the vehicle
  • Cool extra features
  • Etcetera

When you are a bit crazy, like my better half, it helps if you put all the information neatly next to each other. In practice, this means that not much later we are looking at an amazing wall of text, colors and numbers to scientifically substantiate why one camper is crap and the other camper is fantastic. Don’t be alarmed, but it will look something like this.

Buying a camper: our spreadsheet from hell
The hell that is called Microsoft Excel.

What to pay attention to when buying a camper?

We discussed a number of things that we consider important in advance. For example, I thought it was very important that the camper looks a bit sexy from the inside, because I don’t want to live in a doghouse for the next so many years.

As far as Mariska is concerned, things like the year of construction, shower, air conditioning and solar panels are important. Because we have the ambition to live in the same camper together (as a couple), it is still nice if the camper meets the wishes of both of us. We found the following matters important.

“… I don’t want to live in a doghouse for the next so many years.”

The budget

What is a lot of money for one person is not a penny for another. And vice versa. We had decided that we would like to spend about $ 19,000 on a camper. It is not that we have no more than $ 19,000 in our savings account, but at some point you have to put a maximum on an expense, especially if you still plan to do some work on it.

The year of construction and the mileage

We are both secretly in love with those nostalgic self-built campers. At the same time, we are both technically extremely ungifted, close to being challenged. Then you can of course always buy a nice bawdy old-timer, but the chance that you will be half way driving up that godforsaken mountain in the near future and cannot drive a mile further is quite big. So we went looking for a camper up to 25 years old (year of construction 1995 or younger).

It is also nice if we can put the kilometers on the odometer ourselves, so we have set  a maximum of 125,000 miles. With these three variables (price, year of construction and mileage) we still had about 600 campers to choose from. So that is not really progressing. Goddamnit.

Buying a camper: 590 to go!

Air conditioning, solar panels, shower, toilet, etc.

It’s not so bad to drain your savings account and spend a huge amount of money. The problem is that you can only do something like this once. Your purchase will therefore have to be a good purchase right away. And if you spend a lot of money, you also want something in return. Or you want to experience a sense of pride and “this is it” when you look at your camper.

So we want to have heating, air conditioning, a shower, solar panels, a toilet, a kitchen, sitting area and a fixed bed. These are all things that we will need in the future if we want to live off-grid. Of course, there is no filter function for these properties anywhere, so we clicked through all six hundred ads in a week to see if these options  were in our potential future camper or not.

“So we want to have heating, air conditioning, a shower, solar panels, a toilet, a kitchen, sitting area and a fixed bed. These are all things that we will need in the future if we want to live off-grid.

The selection process

When we finally analyzed these hundreds of advertisements and listed them in our spreadsheet, we were stuck with a list of 40 campers that would meet our conditions.

The risk is of course that you will view these 40 campers at least 10 more times each. To prevent this, we agreed on a “veto principle”, in which we were both allowed to select a top 10 from the remaining campers. With some overlap here and there, we ended up with 15 campers that we both (or one of) like. And that’s where the real work started.

Blood, sweat and tears

With 574 campers scrapped and thrown out of the list, the last 15 campers were subjected to an intensive investigation. Since Mariska likes the data and the research, she grew more and more with every added spreadsheet column. At the same time, with each additional column, I shriveled more and more into a pile of misery.

You can imagine that of the remaining 15 campers, every single word in the ad is weighed up. Each photo is placed under a magnifying glass and every spot or cracked is viewed upon with suspicion. After another evening filled with discussion, passion, spreadsheets, columns and colors, we finally reduced the selection to 5 last potential contenders.

The very last 5!

The alarm goes off. I turn dazed and see Mariska lying next to me in a deep deep sleep. I shake her back and forth and she wakes up with a few curses and murmurs. It’s time. Today is D-Day. The day on which we jointly decide which of the five campers is worth our visit.

Buying a camper: spreadsheet top 5
Reduced it to a top 5! Woohoo!

Each camper is judged on its interior and exterior, scored with scores from 1 to 10, conversion factors and everything. And many more spreadsheet columns further, we have FINALLY completed our overview. We have done it! It is amazing! And guess what?

We did not choose any camper from the 589 that we have selected and analyzed, including our top 5. Sigh.

Love at first sight

Buying a camper: the visit

Suddenly we see a picture of a Dethleffs Advantage passing by, while analyzing our top 5 ads. It is a great looking camper and it ticks all the boxes we had in our minds. Why we have not seen these campers before is a mystery to both of us, but it does not matter anymore. We are in love.

Not much later I am speaking to an owner of this camper on the phone. I really just wanted to know what the height in the camper was (I am 2 meters long) and before I knew it I was on the phone with an over-enthusiastic man for almost an hour.

He talked a lot about how great his camper was, what he had done to it to keep it in such a great shape and all the features the camper held. Not because he wanted to sell it, but because he is an enthusiast and he was incredibly proud of his camper.

A few days later it was time: the visit. Love at first sight. The camper was even more beautiful in real life than in the pictures and after a short test drive we knew enough. This was it! We have found our camper!

The moral of the story

The moral of this story is actually very simple. When you have a dream, follow your heart and everything will really end up in the right place. Whether it’s buying a camper or choosing a travel destination, a job, what you’re going to eat tonight, or what movie you want to watch on Netflix, just go for it. The result comes naturally.

“When you have a dream, follow your heart and everything will really end up in the right place.”

The first moment we laid eyes on Wickie we knew that he would be the perfect camper to us. The feeling is indescribable and it immediately felt as if he suited us. And suited the life we are planning to have. We ran out of a good portion of our savings, but we are building it up again. Now that we have Wickie in our lives, we are richer than ever.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *