Categories
van build

3 Things We Wish We Would’ve Checked Before Buying our ProMaster Van

We knew there would be unforeseen maintenance, but as amateurs at care buying, here are the three things I wish we would’ve checked first, because it might have given us a bit more negotiation leverage. Maybe, maybe not. 

A little background – these tips are personal to our buying experience as we shopped for a Ram ProMaster to convert into a tiny home. So, it was a bigger and more “industrial” purchase than a regular car.

It was pretty obvious the side door handle needed replacing, since the handle itself had been broken off. I did a quick Amazon search, thinking it might only be $50. In fact, the replacement part was $115. If we opted to have someone replace it for us, we were looking at a $200 ordeal. When settling on the price, we were able to get $500 knocked off. The salesman was pretty ready for that move and pulled out the, “This is the best price in the country on this type of van.” Which, was true. But, it’s still $18,000 coming out of our pocket.

Here are three more unforeseen problems, that we probably could have checked while at the lot.

  1. The Spare Tire – This is one I wouldn’t have thought about, unless someone mentioned it. How often is the spare tire flat? Actually, I don’t know. I don’t buy cars that often. But, repairing the spare tire cost us $183, rounding up to $200.
  1. The Headlights – These might be hard to check during the daytime, but try to get a close look at them. Are they scuffed and scratched? Does it look like some elbow grease will shine them up? We didn’t know it until our overnighter road trip how dim they were and not just because of the bulbs. Ours were pretty worn and needed replacing, which added up to $330. Whew! Who knew they’d be so pricey? If it’s obvious your desired car will need new headlights, do a quick Amazon search to get an estimate. 
  1. Brakes & Oil – ask the dealership when they last changed the brakes and oil. It may be standard practice, it may depend on the dealership. You might need new pads, or new calipers too. But, changing the brakes to make sure they were fresh and ready to go cost us $390.
Our brakes really weren’t terrible, and it gave Ivan something to do/learn while waiting for the weather to warm up.

All in all, the repairs we were responsible for added up to $1,000. We got a bit knocked off the price, could have negotiated another couple of hundred dollars if we knew to look for these three things? Maybe, maybe not. 

But, at least I will know for next time. (Hopefully, there’s not going to be a next time to soon!!)

Any other quick checks people should do when buying a car? Maybe ones that are less obvious than checking tire tread? Comment below. And, good luck on your next car purchase!

Love,

Hanna 

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Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Time to Move

We were laying down to sleep, upstairs in his parents’ unfinished attic, when I was overcome by sadness. “I miss our home,” I whispered. “Me too,” he replied. I felt lost.

When we were skipping around packing up the van with “just the essentials”, something in the back of my mind knew we were moving out – but my conscious self hadn’t accepted it. I didn’t let myself understand that, “We will be in Idaho for 2 months” actually meant, “We are moving out of this home.”

On the other hand, was it really home? Our landlords were nice enough, and just picky enough that I felt a regular reminder whispering, “You are a guest here.” So, while the apartment was comfortable, clean, and big, it wasn’t really our home. Despite the conflict of emotions, I still missed our nice little place in Farmington, Utah. Laying down to sleep that night, I realized I would need to set up a new routine yet again to manage my diet needs (and preferences).

We’ve been here about two weeks now. Ivan installed two back windows in the van. Yesterday, he cut some boards and drilled them in to essentially create studs for the walls. We get 4-5 Amazon packages almost every day, it feels like Christmas. There are moments where I’m excited for this next adventure, moments I regret not doing it sooner, and other times where I wonder if it’s going to be a good thing. 

I haven’t exactly been super helpful. Ivan has so far done the work himself, though I expect the tasks to gear up pretty soon. Everyone seems excited for us, curious and intrigued. No one has said anything critical or negative, which is nice. Even though we’ve received nothing but encouragement, I still anticipate some passive aggressive comment about our choices. It hasn’t happened yet, so why do I keep thinking it’s coming?

Lying in bed, missing our home that wasn’t really our home, I recognized that we are on the edge of a great adventure. I think part of my sadness came from the speed at which we left. The two months of missing Ivan dragged on and on, then suddenly he’s home, were driving home from Chicago with a brand new van, my current job becomes my former job, and we find ourselves living in another state.

Perhaps the sadness I felt in the night was more like the ache of goodbyes left unsaid – which, I’ll admit is weird to feel about an apartment. I think once we go “home”, finish emptying the apartment, slow down, and say, “Goodbye” I will be able to close the chapter of Rooted Life and open the chapter to Nomadic Life.

Have you gone through an exciting transition, then sadness took you by surprise? Maybe it’s a symptom of looking too far into the future, that you/I miss the present. Let me know your thoughts, I’m genuinely curious.

Love,

Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found travels/travel nursing van build

Back in Action

He’s home! He’s finally home!


It could have been 4 weeks or 18 weeks, once Ivan walked out of the airport and into my arms the pain of missing him dissolved into relief. Like putting on a favorite old t-shirt, we fit together just right as if no time had passed – but, we also felt a little more tender and little more grateful to be together.

Moments after reuniting at the airport

In no time we were planning for the future. I put in my noticed at school that I would not be returning in the fall. Ivan and I felt like now is the time to do something a little daring, a little crazy.

We spent a year traveling in the past. Ivan is a nurse and there is a position called, “travel nurse”. A travel nurse gets hired with a company who has relationships with hospitals. The hospitals come say, “We need nurses” and the company sends the nurses. Ivan had an employed, but worked at 5 hospitals during the year. We lived in Maine, California, Idaho, and then back to Utah.

With this experience under our belt, we had been toying with the idea of traveling nursing again but this time, with a trailer or camper. We had fun living in different apartments and AirBnB’s. There was something satisfying about knowing, “I can only keep what fits in the car.” On the flip side, we had to hunt for the perfect furnished apartment and be willing to pay a premium for said furnishings.

Ivan’s recent contract in New Jersey gave us just enough cash to buy a Ram ProMaster van – this has quickly become our next adventure. After a few weeks of emotional recovery and van hunting, Ivan found one that might work. After a few days of me applying a bit of wifely pressure, we agreed to buy a ticket to Chicago. We texted the dealership on Sunday to set an appointment, bought the flights, and will land on Monday. I’m so anxious, but excited.

My mind leans toward worst case scenarios, so let’s play Worst Case Scenario: we arrive and the van has been sold, and there are no other alternatives. In that case, we would find lodging and a ticket home. We spent $550 getting there, so that would be easily $1,000 for nothing but a story. Maybe such a story/failure/mistake wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but I certainly dread it. Now, I have to focus on belly breathing so my body doesn’t stress and switch to sympathetic mode. Next scenario – we go, the van is there but for some reason or another, it’s not a good fit and we walk away. The consequences are the same as above. Final scenario – we go, we just spent $550 getting there, so we talk ourselves into something we don’t actually want just because of what it took to get there. I guess this isn’t worst case scenario, because the price of the van is $16,000. That leaves us $4,000 in the budget for fixing up unseen problems.

This brings us back to our original decision making. There are new vans with lots of miles, old vans with less miles, higher cost, lower cost – so it becomes a matter of fitting all those pieces together. We were debating between a $20,000 van and a $16,000 van. We settled on the cheaper one with the understanding that there will likely be those pesky car problems you don’t foresee and we’d at least have an extra $4,000 to put toward it. $4,000 goes a long way in car maintenance.

Now, we are sitting at the airport, waiting minute by minute for boarding to begin. I’m scared, excited, I feel a bit reckless, but I also feel like an adventure-seeker. Sure, I’ll be skipping out on work and haven’t thought through those consequences. Sure, we’ll be setting ourselves up for a 20 hour drive back and haven’t thought through those consequences. But, away we go.

Much Love,

Hanna
#vanlife#newadventures