Selling up & moving for a life change, Plan B: buy and full-time live in a camper

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Dafydd, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Dafydd

    Dafydd Funster

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    Hi all! I'm Dafydd currently living in Cork and planning on selling up next year and:
    Plan A, 2 years in the making: move to italy, rent a flat, teach English and write.
    Plan B, gestating unknownst to me until recently: buy a campervan and live full-time around Europe, based out of Wales (for practicalities, via a family address).
    For either plan the Irish economy is just about stabilised enough that I can realistically think about putting my house up for sale next February

    I just posted a long and comprehensive introduction that got "disappeared" down the virtual plug hole! Grrr... too late to write it again now! This one I will copy...

    My current thinking is a Merc Sprinter van conversion, LHD, and my current ideal is a La Strada Nova. I'm put off the ubiquitous Fiat Ducato for reliability and longevity reasons (ill founded?). Iveco Daily is another base vehicle I'm considering.
    I'm drawn to compact rather than large as I will be living alone and also I want the ease of access to cities, country roads as well as the relative discreteness that a van (as opposed to a motorhome) brings.

    Once I own a van I will have a lump-sum nest egg for returning to a "fixed abode" life and to live on the road I will have an annual income of £10,000.
    I'm in my 40s, single since a while, no dependents.
    I have a lot of friends to visit around Europe (including the UK), I love nature reserves and bird watching. I want to dedicate lots of time to writing.

    As I live now I work to earn enough money to live here to work, paying to keep my home, live day to day and have two weeks holiday a year. I am used to living frugally because I don't (can't) earn a decent wage. I hate my job. I need to change...! My mother doesn't think I'm completely mad to consider living in a campervan travelling around Europe spending a few weeks (or months, who knows) here and there. Bless her, I think she was always a secret hippy at heart!

    Any criticisms/potential pitfalls/benefits of experience are most welcome. I've 9 months+ to see which plan will be victorious but since I've been thinking seriously about the practiclities Plan B is gathering a life of its own :Eeek:

    Thanks to you all for this great resource (Jim, I will subscribe soon! I haven't read the site history yet but for what must have been a labour of love you have my respect :thumb:)
    Dafydd
     
  2. Dafydd

    Dafydd Funster

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    I'm very impressed with "Funsters"

    I just read a reply by Jim to Sweetp on this forum from the 27th of September... just to illustrate my growing appreciation of this website... and I've only been reading it seriously over the past 2 days (off work till Friday :BigGrin:)

    Sweetp is "contemplating full-timing" and here seeking advice, just like me.

    Jim: Another tip, unless you are loaded ,you should try it for 6 or 12 months first. Some people are in a trap whereby they cannot get a motorhome until they sell the house, this can be dangerous, whatever you do, don't sell up and buy a brand-new motorhome. If you decide you don't like this alternative lifestyle in the first year or two you will take a massive hit when you sell it. Try renting out your house so you are not burning your bridges, but If you must sell your home; bank most of the money and buy a really old, cheap motorhome that you will get most of your money back on if you decide to go back to bricks and mortar. Good old motorhomes don't lose much money and you will almost always get back what you paid less a little:thumb:

    In life it is invaluable to have an experienced voice put one's outlandish plans into perspective!
    I will sell my home and I have been salivating over a brand new van! I can't help it! But folly it surely is... I'm going to start scouring the web for second hand van ideas! Thanks Jim (via Sweetp).
    A brand new La Strada Nova indeed! (start price €70,000) What was I thinking? :Doh:
     
  3. old-mo

    old-mo Funster Extra Special Life Member

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    Hi Dafydd.... Welcome to "Motorhomefun"..

    I must say I envy you.. if I was 20 years younger..:Sad:

    Enjoy the planning and your new life style.. :thumb:
     
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  4. GIBLA53

    GIBLA53 Read Only Funster

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    Go For IT

    Not exactly like yourself but similar . I decided to take the plunge 10 years ago firstly stopped work -retired and almost immediately bought a motorhome , after about 2 years decided to sell my house and use relatives for mail etc.
    I know some on here have had mixed experiences with "full timing" BUT all i can say its no good dreaming of something if its in your power to have a go and do it.
    After about 8 years of doing this we have tried to improve what we are doing by adding a static caravan into the equation and to date this has proved a success
    We are a couple and after a while in a smallish motorhome yearned for some space to spread out
    Hopefully my reply is of some help
    Alan
     
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  5. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    Very illfounded Im afraid.
    If you cross out the Ducato then you are basically stripping your search by 80% of motorhomers and probably 99% of those are happy with the Ducato or Ducato variations.

    Welcome to Fun, and reading your post, other than the bit I highlight, I think only you will make the decision, just float through it and see what arises, you have money to get back in to property, just a loose plan, and that is the best plan of all.:thumb:
     
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  6. WhiteCheyenneMan

    WhiteCheyenneMan Funster

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    "and to live on the road I will have an annual income of £10,000"

    Great idea but................ I don't want to delve into your personal finances but if your 'annual income of £10,000' is coming from investing the proceeds from selling your home, how is your nestegg going to grow? When the time comes to put down roots again, prices will surely have risen? Renting out your home will produce an income (less agency fees, maintenance, tax etc.) and your nestegg will surely grow over a long enough timescale.
    I always say that your money will grow more slowly than you expect and your costs will increase much faster. And don't forget to put enough aside for that gearbox or clutch repair! It helps to put a little black cloud up there in an otherwise blue sky :Wink:
    If you can still make the figures work, and with a cheaper older MH you surely can, do it :thumb:
     
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  7. MrJinks

    MrJinks Read Only Funster

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    Hi Dafydd
    Another good reason to buy a secondhand motorhome is that almost everyone thinks they know what they need and what layout suits them until they get one. Once they have bought and tried they find out the hard & expensive way that invariably they have chosen wrong. This is especially important if you are going to be full timing as little annoyances can become big 24/7

    Try out what you think is your best design. You may get it right first time but if not make notes about what would make it right for you & if you do decide the full-time life is right, you can then change up to what you want.
     
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  8. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    Welcome Dafydd...

    I would not offer advice but I am delighted to give you some thoughts based on my own experience... they are very close to your own...

    I have lived for over twenty years in a van... I am now semi-retired and am based in Portugal but take every opportunity to tour...

    I slowly slid into this alternative lifestyle due to circumstances and have loved every minute of it since. I am staggered by the number of people I meet on the road, not young hippy types but mature, smartly turned out couples, who have been doing it for decades.

    If I had £10,000 a year to live on I would be saving cash every week in a big bag under my pillow living the way I do here... :thumb:

    I too write (too much nonsense here sometimes!)...

    Fulltiming is so much easier if you are on your own...

    I have lived in my Iveco Turbo Daily (16 years old)(with inter-cooler) in the centre of cities and wild, desolate beaches and most points between these two. I use campsites very, very, very rarely.

    My van doesn't look like a camper van at first glance...

    I have found so many opportunities around so many corners in this lifestyle that I could not imagine going back to living in bricks especially if doing so used up great wads of money that I had to work at a hated job to acquire.

    I consider myself to be so very lucky to have found this lifestyle and then to find it suits me so completely... but then, as recent events show, I am a very lucky man indeed...:Wink:

    Technology keeps me in touch with friends, family and Fun... lets me post up "stuff" that folks can (and sometimes do) buy... no stamps, envelopes, or waiting for cheques... I love PayPal...

    There are many different ways we full timers can live in our motorhomes... mine suits me, more conventional ways suit others but as the title of my huge, blockbusting best seller (I have nearly finished a whole chapter now) goes...

    "You Don't Have To Live In A House" :thumb:

    Sorry for the ramble... :Blush:

    JJ :Cool:
     
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  9. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    It looks like you have read a fair few threads on fulltiming so you know there are a range of views from "Wish I could do that" to "you must be crazy" to "doing it and loving it".

    There are literally 1,000's of reasons why you shouldn't do it and one big one why you should.

    For me the big one is "Because the lifestyle suits me".

    It will either work for you or it won't. It definately works for me and I won't be giving it up if I can help it. I can come up with 100's of reason why living in a house doesn't work for me :Wink:

    If you can live like JJ and not do any campsites at all it is a dirt cheap way of living and that can be enough of a reason to do it. I use campsites a bit probabably 50% of the time over the last 2 and a half years. This figure will be dropping down over the next few years as my self build is now becoming more self sufficient and with next years income it will become totally self sufficient. This will allow me to save.....

    If you are seriously tempted, can I suggest you try it but do it on the cheap. Keep as much money back as you can and buy a van that will be easy to sell and lose as little money as possible. You can then give it a go for 3 months+ on the understanding that the vehicle you are in isn't perfect. If you enjoy it and it suites you then you can commit more funds to a better vehicle and kitting it out. If is doesn't suite you then you can sell the van and look at other options.
     
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  10. Hollyberry

    Hollyberry Funster

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    Life's too short not to do it.
    If you hate it you have other options:
    volunteer abroad fro a year or 2--accommodation, a local wage, the safety net iof health care & being flown back if necessary.
    Look at a site called Workaway. You stay in a place for an agreed time--get accommodation, all meals in exchange for 5 hours work a day. Varies from renovating/gardening/decorating/animal acre the list is endless.

    You might get a larger return on money by owning a property and letting it . The downside is having the responsibility.

    I had the option to travel when I retired at 50, didn't, and have regretted it ever since.

    Have a Plan B just in case things go pear shaped (they won't) and go for it and have some fun--life can be too short.
     
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  11. Dafydd

    Dafydd Funster

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    thanks

    Thanks for the welcoming replies old-mo, Alan GIBLA53, haganap, WhiteCheyenneMan, MrJinks and JJ.

    I've enjoyed the internet for 12 years and I still find it amazing. I'm only here since a few days, though I have browsed occasionally in the past - (I know now that I have been infected with the campervan bug for some years, even as I have been making a detailed moving plan that involves a flat and a job! I think I might be in the final stages of campervan-compulsion-syndrome!) - and straight away I am delighted by the level of interaction, the laid backness, the willingness to share experience... to have this kind of sounding-board for my meandering ideas is invaluable.
    Whilst I know myself quite well, and lots of Europe quite well I have no experience or knowledge of campervans and (to misquote Donald Rumsfeld haha) I can only guess at the quantity of "unknown unknowns" besides the questions I have concerning the "known unknowns" - the wide range of practical issues.

    haganap Fiat Ducatos... I thought my prejudice might be ill-founded! I was recently a passanger in an Italian friend's Fiat Doblo van-car, the engine seized and went mad (even after the key was removed) filling the village we were passing through with dense black smoke. Only for it being a diesel it would have blown up (the coolant system did!). Terrifying... my anti Fiat-in-general prejudice is based on the various experiences (and subjective opinions) of various Italian friends. Iveco on the other hand has a good reputation for being mechanically solid.

    More seriously: reliability, solidity of the mechanics is a high priority for me as I'm no mechanic. Hence my tending towards a Sprinter or Iveco Daily base vehicle. Some time ago I did some browsing on van forums (with work I lived for 4 years with a works Renault Traffic, luckily when the engine melted/seized the cost of recovery and replacement engine were not mine!!), regular vans not campers, and Merc topped the list followed by Iveco and then Transit. That was in terms of fewest problems/satisfaction... costwise you pay a hefty premium hence lots of businesses go for Renaults, Fiats etc.
    As I have been learning Italian for the last 2 years I have also browsed Italian Fiat Ducato threads (again, mostly work vans) and whilst many owners presumably do have no or few problems (there are a lot of Ducatos out there as vans and campers) the quantity of Ducato nightmare threads, many with significant post-sales support problems, was the foundation of my prejudice.

    I realise that things can change dramatically with a new or updated model... you read things like "avoid xyz specific model but from 2005 it's a better engine/problem xyz was resolved".
    Like you say I'd be writing off a lot (most) camper options if I won't look at a Ducato base. You make a valid point and I've parked it in the back of my mind, just behind the Merc & the Iveco :Wink:

    WhiteCheyenneMan Ah god, the myriad ins and out of the money thing! I don't mind you delving as the more honest/less secretive I am about my situation the more appropriate might be any advice that kindly comes my way. Talking about one's money situation is a general taboo but I don't mind breaking it here, might as well show my cards. The house proceeds will buy a camper and leave an exit-strategy fund, the other income is separate and reliable. I will work either for money or in exchange for stopping somewhere. Amazingly, having mentioned this campervan plan to a few Italian friends only 1 week ago, I have already been offered to spend winter 2012 on a farm in Sicily if I help with some work.... mad...
    My plan as it stands can only work if I sell up. With things as they are (and will be in Ireland for many years) I'm never going to earn enough to save for a van, not in 20 years.

    JJ Nice ramble! More please... thanks for the encouragement about being able to get by on 10 grand a year, or 7 with 3 put aside for tax, insurance, ferries and a breakdown/"new clutch" contingency.

    If I look for a 10-ish year old camper built on an Iveco base what coachbuilder brands have caught your experienced eye? (maybe none have...)

    Large van conversion or (sacrificing some anonymity) a low profile coachbuilt are what I've been browsing for online so far though I've only really been looking at brand new ones (can't help salivating!). Something "winterised" with heating and hot water, shower & toilet.
    I could even go with an alcove model if that's what came my way second hand on a good base, though that would stand out more but maybe have more hang-out space....

    My only experience on the road was in my twenties when I lived on a converted Bedford bus for a year and a half, until the engine chewed itself to pieces. We lived mostly in England and France... young and easy under the apple boughs indeed!

    How's your Portugese JJ?
     
  12. Dafydd

    Dafydd Funster

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    Thanks Gromett, that is very sound advice

    Hollyberry, I will look at workaway, thanks.
    I lived for a couple of years near Cahors and in the Dordogne. I spent a year in a falling down farmhouse in a forest near Pressignac-Vicq, near Lalinde. God I loved it there! Owls and wild boar for neighbours. Sadly I had to return to the UK eventually (or it seemed as though I did...). Many years ago myself and some friends spent 6 months (living on a bus) around Libourne and Bergerac, & Neuvic where we parked up on a farm for 3 months... god I really loved that!
     
  13. motorhomelover

    motorhomelover

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    dont mess about with a van rebuild get your self an Amerivcan RV all the comforts of home at an affordable price
    best thing i ever did
    good luck with your life change

    Ianf
     
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  14. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    That's the last thing I would advise for a fulltimer especially one who wants to travel.......:shout:

    Are you a fulltimer Ianf?
     
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  15. Carol

    Carol Funster Life Member

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    The only comment I can make after reading that is that you were born to Motorhome, I for one look forward to keeping up with your progress. :Smile:
     
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  16. WhiteCheyenneMan

    WhiteCheyenneMan Funster

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    Sorry Daffyd but I have a complaint now :Angry: You've got me dreaming of breaking out to fulltiming............ but my wife's still working :Rofl1:

    By the way, someone somewhere once suggested to me that the Fiat Multijet was developed, or actually manufactured by Ford. But I've no idea whether there's any truth in that............maybe another Funster knows for sure?
     
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  17. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    Hi Dafydd... don't know too much about modern vans other than the ones I go and sit in at the shows... (I did like the Autosleeper Broadway)

    My main thing is rear wheel drive... don't think I would like a front wheel drive...

    The Iveco is strong but very "commercial"... I tend to feel every bump but I don'rt mind this... air assisters fitted last year made a big difference...

    I have an old but beautiful (and shiny) Hymer 660 which I use for "holidays"...

    Haven't bothered with winterising as I am always here in the winter...

    Solar for electricity and genny for emergencies

    If you get really bored you could browse www.wagonman2000.blogspot.com

    My Portuguese is shocking given how long I have been trying to learn...

    JJ
     
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  18. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    Though my knowledge of full timing is only from what I've read, I have always thought that the ideal MH for someone on their own on a limited budget is a largish panel van conversion that doesn't look like a motorhome. I saw one parked in Eastbourne and if the door hadn't been open no one would have thought it was a motorhome. It could be freely parked anywhere without exciting any comment, where a conventional motorhome would have the natives in an uproar.
    The worst choice unless you have pots of money would be an RV, they cost a lot to run and are the opposite of inconspicuous, in fact they often produce adverse comment even on campsites, even where the pitches are big enough for them. They are lovely inside but rather like putting wheels on your house:Laughing:
     
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  19. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    What's up, no RVers on then. Have I got my tin hat on for nothing:Rofl1:
     
  20. Destination Unknown

    Destination Unknown Funster

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    This RVer is online

    No you havn't nearlyretired. We decided that if we were going to full time might as well be as comfy as possible and have chilling space :Smile: and in the euro boxes well thats really not feasible. We also didn't want to have to be getting water everytime we stopped, emptying toilet every two minutes and having to get out and level when we parked up. The RV has everything onboard BRILL.........

    We full time in a 34' Fleetwood Bounder, have done for the past 2 years and just love it:thumb:

    We use mainly aires in France, campsites in Spain (won't wildcamp here) and wildcamp in Portugal (loads of opportunities here):BigGrin:

    In UK we use CLs, CSs and THS and had no problems re size. Yes I know we cannot park in town car parks but then I don't want to live in a car park!! To get around we tow a car on an A-frame.

    Its a fabulous life and wouldn't change it unless health is the reason. So go for it Daffyd what ever vehicle you have I'm sure you won't regret it.

    Regards Brian and Chris
     
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