The wanderlust bug is doing the rounds once again; the amount of emails that we receive in the Van Clan inbox has tripled in the past few months, and more and more of you want to know how to get into alternative living. Maybe it’s because Spring has sprung, or perhaps you’re all just ready for a well deserved off grid adventure into sunnier climates. Whatever the reason, the Van Life movement is ready to take on some brand new members, but what are the costs involved with living the van life? Is there an affordable camper out there that doesn’t cost the earth, a cheap camper that can turn your off grid living dreams into a reality. We’re here to tell you that there is, and it doesn’t cost as much as you might think.
A self-converted camper conversion is always going to cost less than having a company build one for you (and it’s way more fun too!), but if you don’t have the means or the know-how and are looking for an affordable way to go travelling in a van, then Colorado-based Oasis Campervans have the solution. They’ll convert your minivan into a stealth camper van for just $8.5K, and they do a damn good job of it too.
Head over to our Van Lifers & Weekend Warriors Facebook Group to join our new and exciting community of travel-hungry adventurers!
Finally, An Affordable Camper That Is The Real Deal
For many vandwellers, small campers are their weapon of choice. They’re cheap to run, they go under the radar and don’t attract attention, and they’re much easier to drive than giants like the EarthRoamer of the VW California XXL. If you’re not into trailer life, then a compact camper is the perfect solution, and Oasis Campervans have come up with the ideal formula for an affordable camper with attitude.
Now you may have been expecting an article about Mercedes Sprinter Conversions or even the best ford campers, but Oasis Campervans uses the family-friendly Toyota Sienna as their base vehicle. Bearing a small resemblance to this compact camper van from Peace Vans, this affordable camper provides a tiny home from home that has everything you need to live comfortably on the road. Don’t be fooled by the price either; some of the cheaper small travel trailers that we’ve looked at in the past, for example, have been quite basic for the price. Oasis Campervans will kit out your Sienna with all of the top cooking accessories, a sleeping area and the necessary van life essentials to turn your adventure bus dream into a reality.
What’s Inside This Affordable Camper?
For starters, this camper looks exactly like a family saloon car. You could stick a few sun-blockers up on the inside of the windows, and no one would have a clue what was inside. I’ve seen som many stealth campers, but this one might just be the best. If you’re looking for an affordable camper that’s tall and spacious, then this isn’t it. It’s perfect for the weekend warrior who wants to get out of town as soon as the out of office is in place, but I couldn’t see anybody taking this Toyota Sienna conversion on the road for more than a few days at a time. That being said, if you’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors and just want somewhere to sleep and cook then it’s perfect!
The living room area is very nicely put together, with everything slotting neatly into place and tucking away securely for transit. It’s probably important to mention at this point that these custom campervans can be made to the buyer’s specifications, but they will usually all have a wooden finished floor and a swivel table to eat and work off. They are perfect for the business person who doesn’t want to waste all of their money on hotels when travelling for work! You also get a set of pull out drawers that you can use to keep all of your dry clothes, tinned ingredients and other van life equipment stored away. TOP TIP – keep these drawers stacked all year round so you don’t have to waste time packing when you want to hit the road.
The comfortable looking chair folds back to make part of the bed frame, once more saving space and utilising clever design techniques. The bed does take up most of the available space when erected, but you still have access to a sink in the boot area for cleaning your teeth and washing your hands etc. There’s lots more useful storage to be found underneath the sleeping area too; lift-up flaps give you access to compartments that can be used to store your best power banks or perhaps a portable solar charger, and you’ll also find more boxes and compartments at the rear of the minivan.
Can I Cook In It?
Well, I wouldn’t plan on making Christmas dinner in this affordable camper, but once the boot is open you have access to a flip up table and preparation area that spans the full width of the van. It’s designed with outdoor cooking in mind, so check the weather before you step outside to start making your risotto. It’s a nice touch, as you wouldn’t really want to cook inside in such a small space; everything you own (including you) would end up smelling of last night’s dinner, and god help you if you end up burning something!
You can, believe it or not, also charge your devices from this affordable camper too. There’s a 12v USB chartering socket towards the back of the van, allowing you to top up your phone or tablet when you’re running low on juice. We’re not sure if Oasis Campervans install split charge relay’s into their builds, but it would be a great option to keep a leisure battery charged up on the go. A solar panel would look a little bit cumbersome on the top of such a small car, but you could up your electricity storage game by packing a portable solar charger and making use of all of that free energy that’s just waiting there ripe for the taking!
If for some reason, you decide that you need to take all of the camping elements out of your affordable camper for a long family journey, then all of the components are removable and can be easily re-installed at your leisure. Personally, I’d keep it as a camper all year round just to save the faff, but at least you have the option if the need ever arises.
Oasis Campervans take two to four weeks to make up each affordable camper and ship each van in less than six weeks, and compared to other campervan conversions they’re very affordable indeed. Each build costs just $8’500, which is chump-change compared to something like the Ford Earthroamer or this insanely large Monster Camper. Having said that, you have to have a minivan before considering one of these conversions, so the total cost will fluctuate depending on if you decide to buy a new or second-hand van to be converted.
This affordable camper is never going to be something that you could travel in full time, no matter how small you can fold yourself up on an evening, but it is a cost-effective option for the weekend warrior who wants to park in plain sight without attracting too much attention. There’s a lot of scope for customisation, and you wouldn’t have any problems getting into underground parking or slotting into tight spaces. However, speaking from experience $8’500 is still a lot of money to spend on getting somebody else to convert a camper for you. I bought and converted my maxi-roof panel van that I live in full time for around $6’000, making it a much more affordable camper than any company-built conversion that we’ve covered here at Van Clan.
The fact of the matter is this; if you’re looking for an easy to drive adventure vehicle that you can take away at a moment’s notice, then this affordable camper will be perfect. Not everyone enjoys wielding a hammer and saw, and if you’re not comfortable building your own tiny house, then Oasis Campervans provide you with affordable and quality service.
However, don’t rush into buying something that might not be right for you. Headroom is everything in the van life game; if you’re planning on spending a lot of time on the road then standing up and having room to move will make your travels far more enjoyable. Take the time to rent a few different campers from Outdoorsy to get a feel of how big a vehicle you need before committing to such a small conversion. You could always check out our ‘How To Build A Camper’ e-book on our online shop too and have a crack at making a hand-made-home yourself! It’s easier than it looks and incredibly rewarding, plus you have the added advantage of learning from our mistakes!