The Best Vehicle To Live In [A List of Pros and Cons]

The Best Vehicle To Live In

A question on everyone’s mind when they’re thinking about mobile living is ‘What is the the best vehicle to live in?” There are a lot of vehicle options out there and there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to choosing your rig. Your adventure and lifestyle is going to be different from others and so is your vehicle.

If you are at the stage where you’ve finally had enough of looking through countless posts of other Van Life vehicles and becoming “Instajelous” every time you scroll past another adventure rig. Or you may just be curious at what the top van life vehicles are out there. Either way you’ve come to the right place.

We have put together a list of pros and cons from vehicles you can live in and convert into your new home on wheels.

Before you decide what vehicle is best for you to live in you may want to first check out the

8 Things You Must Consider Before Buying A Van 

OK, now we can begin…

The Pro’s and Con’s

Let’s start with… 

The Van

popular van life vehicle

This iconic Van Life vehicle is popular with the Instagrammers living the life on the road.  Vans range from pimped-out-six-figure-adventure rigs, to entry level beaters so you’ll see a wide variety to choose from. It’s often the most affordable option, which makes it great for people just starting out. There are a lot of different vans out there, choosing the right one for you is as overwhelming as it is fun!

Panel Van/cargo Van

If you are looking to build your own Van then choosing a full sized van gives you a lot more room to build your ideal home. There are a lot to choose from and all have different features. Some, like the Mercedes sprinters have a raised roof which allows you to stand up without crouching and feeling like the hunchback of Notre dame whilst others have a long narrow yet spacious interior.

Advantages

  • They are great to convert into a custom built camper van
  • Cargo vans are everywhere as they are used by courier services and trades around the world.
  • Due to their popularity, they are usually sold for a good price and parts are readily available and easy to find
  • Generally easy to work on, especially the older models without modern electronics.
  • Higher security due to less windows
  • Stealth camping can be easier (depending on external setup and decals)

Disadvantages

  • Limited light due to limited windows
  • All panel van camping interiors have to be custom built
  • Used cars especially those used in the trade can be quite damaged and a have a high mileage
  • Not a lot of character

Camper Van

what is the best vehicle to live in

Don’t want go to the trouble of building your own van? Well you’re in luck. There are tons of pre-built campers that will only require a bit of personal touch.

Advantages

  • Comes with everything including the kitchen sink! Ok maybe not all have EVERYTHING but enough to make you self-sufficient on the road without having to build anything yourself.
  • Some camper vans come with a pop top for extra room and standing space

Disadvantages

  • Can be more expensive however you will save the cost and time of converting another van
  • When getting a camper van remember that it was once someone else’s home so it may have a lot of mileage and require a bit of maintenance.

Kombi/classic

AKA Hippie Van

list of best vehicles to live in

 

Advantages

  • Strong Community (new friends, shows & events, advice, support, documentation)
  • Already set for living in
  • Iconic vehicle
  • Easy to work on
  • Surprisingly good off road with rear wheel drive and engine weight over rear wheels.

 

Disadvantages

  • Maintenance – with an old design and old parts, expect to be getting your hands dirty often if you want to keep your vehicle running smoothly. It’s not just that old parts will break (and believe us, they will) it’s that these older designs require maintenance more frequently than modern vans
  • Availability of parts – with such a strong following, parts for anything you will need are readily available but don’t expect high street stores to stock the parts you need.

 THE CAR

Your trusty car that gets you comfortably from A to B is not our recommended choice if you want to live on the road for any length of time.  That said, if you like to dabble in the van life on the weekends without buying another vehicle then you can make it work, particularly if you have a station wagon.

It’s easy enough to make a bed in the back of the car and have storage under the bed but the lack of space will get frustrating.

Advantages

  • Low gas mileage
  • Low profile – Great for stealth camping
  • Mobility – you be able to get through small spaces that bigger campers can’t
  • Affordability – cars are often cheaper to buy and maintain an the other options listed here.

Disadvantages

  • Space! – Fitting your car with the essentials for a weekend trip may be ok but anything longer than that may be uncomfortable.
  • You will constantly be moving things around from back to front to under the seat to on the dash board…This will get tiring FAST!
  • Ground clearance – off road driving and remote campsite access may be limited
  • Sleeping – If you are on your own then this might not be too bad but if you have a dog or a partner it could get a little too cosy
  • Lack of privacy – Have you ever had to change in a car? Not ideal
  • Limited Room for passengers – this is especially true if f you have a bed in the back that can’t fold back, which makes your seats useless

SUV/4WD

Similar to the car option It is quite easy to turn your SUV into a camper as explained above. The only difference is that it is slightly roomier and better for outdoor adventuring.

 

Advantages

  • Great for overlanding
  • Can blend in which makes stealth camping a lot easier.
  • Great mobility
  • Generally cheaper to buy than a camper van and usually easier to maintain
  • Better mileage
  • Flexible enough to be a family runner, adventure mobile and a work horse

 

Disadvantages

  • Space – As with the car space is limited
  • You can’t use your backseats – You are probably going to have to take out the back seats to build in your bed or if you can put the seats down flat it’s likely you won’t be removing the bed to use the seats so sorry no hitchhikers
  • You will constantly be moving things around from back to front to under the seat to on the dash board…This will get tiring FAST!
  • Sleeping – again it’s possible but it won’t be the comfiest night sleep especially if you don’t have curtains which leads onto
  • Lack of privacy – Have you ever had to change in a car? Yeah it’s not fun

 


 

van life advice guide book

 


Pickup Truck Camper/Trailer

The pickup truck camper combines an average pickup truck/ Ute with an add on camping unit on the vehicles chassis. There is an option to have a pop up camper which allows the roof to collapse when driving and give you that extra room when camping.

Advantages

If you already have a pickup truck this is one of the cheaper RV options as the camper can be taken on and off your pickup truck when needed.

You don’t need to pay extra on insurance or other annual licence fees on another vehicle.

This vehicle is versatile – you can remove the truck camper and leave it jacked up at home or a camp ground and use your truck as an everyday vehicle.

It’s compact and has great manoeuvrability

Better fuel economy than a larger RV

Great for off-road and getting down to those special spots off the beaten track, especially if you choose to have a 4×4 pickup truck

Can have the option of having a pop up trailer for extra space

 

Disadvantages

The Camper and pickup truck are detached therefore you can’t just go from the drivers seat to your home without stepping outside. That’s ok until it starts raining or you need to start the truck in an emergency

The living space is smaller than other RV options

The sleeping area is over the cab in most designs and can be a tight space unless you have a pop up trailer

Not much room to install a shower and toilet and holding tanks


The Unimog

 

What the hell is a Unimog?! That’s what we thought when we came across these beasts on our travels. Originally these machines were designed to use in the military, mining or as agriculture equipment but you can now see them being used as an off-road camper.

Advantages

Extreme off-road capabilities – in a Unimog, you don’t follow the path, you make the path.

Built to operate in harsh conditions

You can help move boulders from one mountain to another

It can pretty much get you out of any situation, or at least you had better hope that you can because good luck finding some with enough horse power to pull you out of that swamp that you tried to cross!

 

Disadvantages

Expensive! These vehicles can vary in price depending on mileage and condition but generally they are quite pricey compared to other off road vehicles.

You may need a commercial license to drive one

If the vehicle is pricey it usually means the parts are too

Due to size international shipping will be expensive and difficult

A bit over the top, unless you are planning on driving over the Himalayas on your way to boulder down the great wall of China.

Unimogs are a tad more complex to work on than other vehicles. Their unique design and features make these vehicles a bit of a specialty mechanically. If you’re lucky you may find a tractor mechanic down the road from where you break down but you have to be pretty lucky for that.

Changing a tire will take a bit of extra effort –Have you seen the size of those things?!

It is not a fast vehicle – A Unimog makes our Kombi feel like we’re driving a Ferrari

We apologize if we seem like we are not taking the Unimog seriously, we know some people do. But honestly, we personally don’t think they are viable options for most people.


The School Bus

popular vehicle to live in

If you want space and a more of a fixed home, the old converted school bus is a good option. For traveling they are best when your journeys are short and you are sticking to easy trails. You are not getting off the beaten path in this thing but it’s a strong vehicle and an interesting option to build your new home in.

 

Advantages

Space! So much space! You can almost have a full-size bowling alley in your home if you really wanted to. The options are endless!

You will get sung ‘Hail to the bus driver’ to you while you’re driving

Cheaper than most motor homes and RV’s of the same size

Your whole family can travel with you. Perfect if you fancy having 8 kids and still want to live life on the road

Bus or coach mechanics are available in most places around the world and there is a good chance your parts will be too.

It looks cool and has character!

Buses are strong and built to last.

 

Disadvantages

Fuel can be costly and depending on the model it may be more of a challenge to work on and find parts.

Parts a generally bigger and heavier to store and carry around

Due to size international shipping will be expensive and difficult

Stealth camping is somewhat difficult unless you park near a school but that’s kind of creepy and weird.

Kids may wave you down expecting you to take them to school

You will struggle driving long distances through difficult terrain. If you’re thinking of doing a trip from Chile to Alaska this may not be the best choice in vehicle (But it sure would be the coolest!)

Parking will be a pain in the butt

Limit to where you can drive – You can’t really get to those secluded beaches in one of these things

You won’t get that ‘Hail to the bus driver’ song out of your head – ever!

Some RV parks may not let you camp there


The RV

RV’s come in all sizes, shapes and designs so we’re going to break it down into Class A, B and C RV’S. Each class of RV is designed to serve different needs so choosing one depends on your individual desires.

 

Class A

The cream of the crop and ultimate mobile luxury living, these are those motorhomes that you mistake for a bus. They are generally bigger than the average school bus so it’s literally like having a small house on wheels.

Advantages

 

So much space- We’ve seen apartments smaller than these!

They include EVERYTHING- Even a washer and dryer! Imagine that, no more outings to laundromats

You don’t need to build or install anything. Everything in this RV is purposefully built for on road living

Some have multiple slide-outs which can expand the width of your home to an extra 14 feet – What the?!

 

Disadvantages

 

The price – They can almost cost you the same as a small You can even see these things reach into the millions!

The size- These things can reach up to 45 feet in length – good luck parking that.

Fuel costs alone can blow your budget if you are planning on doing long trips in this thing

RV parks can get expensive after a while – there are not as many options for free camping in these things

Once you get somewhere you’re pretty much stuck there, unless you have a car towed behind your Class A RV then you’re fine (Yes people do this)

Requires a special license to drive in some places

 

Class B

 

We don’t know why but a Class B RV is the smallest of the three classes and are a mix between the Class A and Class C RV’S and are usually built on a truck or van chassis. They look like an oversized cargo van and are quite similar although these RV’s are purposely built for living.

 

Advantages

They are generally the least expensive out of the three

Purposefully built interior

More economical than class A and C

Better manoeuvrability than its RV brothers class A and C

And better mileage too

 

Disadvantages

Less space than the other two types

Not as luxurious as the others

Doesn’t expand

Some larger sized Class B vehicles will be expensive and difficult to ship overseas

Class C

best vehicle to live in option

These motorhomes are a mix of the Class A and B and sits on a truck chassis. The camper part of the RV extends over the top of the front of the truck which is unique from the others.

Advantages

Better manoeuvrability than Class A although some Class C’s can be just as big as a Class A

The smaller models have the advantage of being roomer inside yet can still park at campsites

Has the power to tow your vehicle unlike Class B

Disadvantages

Amenities are not as luxurious as Class A

Some Class C models can be just as big as a Class A therefore too big to park and drive in some places

Due to size international shipping will be expensive and difficult

There are so many vehicles out there to suit EVERYONE and what may be the perfect rig for you may not be for someone else. Choosing the right vehicle to live and travel in is one of the most important steps to creating a comfortable and lifestyle that YOU want. We hope that these pros and cons have helped narrow the choices down for you. Let us know below what your ideal live in vehicle would be!

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