Why we chose the Ford Transit over the Mercedes
Today's the day! We finally bought our first (van) house together. A ton of research went into what type of van we wanted to buy. With so many options out there it was a very difficult process. First you have to look at the brand of van you want. Then when you narrow that down you have to figure out what type of fuel you want to run. Next it comes to size and add ons. These vans are a total customizable build on the manufacturers websites so they come with a ton of configurations and that’s why buying used means it's basically the same process as buying a house. Unless you buy new, you're not going to find everything you want. So make a list of your wants and needs in order of priority and then look for a van with those options. For us it was Size, diesel or eco boost, price, windows, and color (we wanted white because black can get very hot in the summer). You really have to take stock and agree on what’s most important to you and remember you can always add things later on that you may have had to sacrifice for so long as the initial price is right.
The reason why bought the ford transit...
The reason why we went with the Ford Transit was because of the Size, Car & Driver Reviews, price, fuel efficiency and longterm cost of repairs and maintenance. One of our reasons for van life is to save money and if we can do that with fuel and parts then we can use that extra income to take more trips or save for longterm goals.
Another major deciding factor...
was an article written by Tom Robertson, President at A. Blair Enterprises, Inc. and owner of 47 Mercedes Sprinter Vans. Mr. Robertson found a fatal and expensive flaw with the Mercedes Sprinter Vans which averages out to 10 cents per mile on the Mercedes verses 2 cents on the Transit. You can read more on that article HERE
It took a few months of intense shopping and missing out on great deals but finally we scored a use 2015 Ford Transit 350, fully loaded with only 25k miles. Granted it was in California at the time and we were in Florida but lucky for us Preston is on a buddy pass for airlines and hopped on a plane to fly there, do the deal and then make the long 2800 miles back across country to pick up me, our dog and my stuff.
We got the highest roof Ford makes at 9.1' (they have 3 sizes) so we can stand up and have more room for storage. It was also the EXT, the longest they make at 22.2 feet. It didn’t have all the windows we wanted but lucky they are fairly inexpensive and easy-ish to install. It's an 3.5-liter EcoBoost which makes us somewhat nervous since it's newer technology however the fuel economy is suppose to be an average of 16 mpg which isn't too far off from the diesel's 19 mpg (from a van life forum website) plus is has a torque rating of 400 lbs -ft (4220 lb payload) which is great for us since we will be loading down the van to make it livable and it also give us the capability of towing our motorcycles behind us.
The cost was only $28,000 which we financed and got a great loan. We wanted to be more fluid with out finances since we knew we had to invest cash up front on the cost that comes with the conversion process. We both were spending over 50k a year on our apartments and because we travel for work we were never there to enjoy them. Also since we travel for work and are subcontractors we pay upfront for our expenses for airfare, fuel, rental cars and hotels. Over all we spend around 120k a year doing what we can now do for under 50k.
The minute we put all expenses on paper, van life vs non van life, it really put things in perspective and there wasn't a doubt in our minds that we had made the right decision.
As far as design and layout, we started developing it as soon as we came up with this crazy idea to live in a van. We've done a ton of research, wrote down our needs and wants, looked at Pinterest, Instagram and google searches until we almost went blind. Most of the time it's fun but when we get to the solar and parts where we have to cut holes into the van it becomes overwhelming and scary. When we started had no clue about how power converting worked and most of it seemed like a foreign language. It is painstaking and time consuming researching every thing we can about wiring, solar panels, batteries, and AC / DC converting but it's a necessity since it’s basically our first step before we can get two the fun stuff of designing the interior. After a month of watching videos and reading and talking to experts we are in a little better shape, still nervous but not as overwhelmed.
We're excited to share the process of our Van Conversion in the coming months and hope to serve as a DIY guide to those of you out there looking to ditch the cubicle for a life of freedom and happiness.
Watch our full review of our Ford Transit
The Lost Latitudes follows a couples life on the road in their Ford Transit and on their motorcycles. Photographer, Preston Burroughs, and journalist, Leticia Cline, capture unique content for companies, brands, travel and tourism boards. They also curate original content on van conversions, DIY projects, travel tips and routes, van videos, blogs and visual content for future Van Lifers.