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Frank Hovis

Motorhome Advive

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Having got heartily sick of driving 500 miles a week, not wanting to buy or rent just for work (council tax, furnishing it) a camper van makes most sense and I've fancied one anyway for a few years.

This will be on hard standing with electric hook-up, showers.

Requirements are:

Comfy sleep (will be just me), sadly

Tolerable to spend evenings in

Cooking facilities

Late night wee without going ou

Ok for winter

3 or 4 nights a week so storage not an issue

Back of an envelope calculation shows it makes sense to pay up to £15k.

So what should I look at or avoid? In SW so any specific examples welcome.

Not interested in classic VW camper, trendy but don't fancy living in one all week as too small.

Ta muchly

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Get a boat, as a second pad, like me. Women seem to dig the alternative lifestyle thing.

Bloke living on his own in a motorhome has got a bit of a Jimmy Savile/child abductor vibe.

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Where are you actually going to keep the van during the week?

Would a towable caravan be a better option?

On a site a couple of miles from the office, will take bike to cycle in. Car will stay at home and I'm a poor driver (best to be honest about these things) so think towing a caravan would be too stressful.

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Where are you actually going to keep the van during the week?

Would a towable caravan be a better option?

Why not go all in by buying a chainsaw and calling yourself a tree surgeon too.

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Get a boat, as a second pad, like me. Women seem to dig the alternative lifestyle thing.

Bloke living on his own in a motorhome has got a bit of a Jimmy Savile/child abductor vibe.

Gee thanks :-(

I did initially look at a boat as something off the wall but couldn't find any to rent.

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I know nothing about motorhomes TBH, but I quite fancy a 'stealth camper', something like an old hi-top Transit or Sprinter van with a caravan interior installed. Apparently the purpose built motorhomes are a serious theft risk (as are normal caravans obviously). Dunno if you have the skills to convert one yourself, but if not I daresay people who've built one do occasionally sell them on...

Plenty of space for a cassette toilet in the back of a big van; a proper motorhome will almost certainly have one as standard. If you've got an electric hookup a simple electric heater should keep you comfortably warm, albeit for a small but non-trivial cost.

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How much space do you need? Modern small/medium van conversions are very well laid out and as you mentioned drivng, T4's, T5's just about as easy to drive as cars, part of what makes them so popular. As you will be on a fully serviced site the extra space in a larger van that has a shower is effectively wasted, portaloo's are not too bad really, especially if only really using them when caught short. How about trying something out for a weekend, find out what you really feel comfortable in driving and living in (albeit sort term test), might be worth it in the longer run.

Right time to buy anything like a campervan - coming up to winter.

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One tip. If you use it in cold weather, condensation on the windscreen will be your no. 1 enemy. You'll need to have external insulated windscreen covers to stop it. Google "silver screens" + motorhomes. The internal "thermal" blinds/screens just make the condensation worse.

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Definitely spend a weekend or two visiting as many dealers as you can trying out all the different styles and configurations.

If you decide to go for a coach built you absolutely must get it damp tested by an independent Approved AWS workshop.

If you want to use it over the winter, make sure it is winterised, a lot of UK motorhomes aren't.

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I spent eighteen months with a similarly large commute, decided to research buying a motorhome but booked into a country pub for a couple of weeks of B&B while looking.

After a couple of days the landlord realised I didn’t bother with breakfast and said if I wanted to stay a few nights each week on that basis then he would offer me a £20 night rate.

By the time I accounted for camp site fees, tax, insurance and maintenance on a motorhome, the pub B&B option was unbeatable.

If you fancy a motorhome in any case and think you will get leisure use out of it then fair enough but a weeknights only, frequent and no hassle B&B guest is a very good “catch” for a quiet country pub.

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You could go for something like a Bongo with an Airbeam tent attached, that would give you somewhere to put your potty.

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I spent eighteen months with a similarly large commute, decided to research buying a motorhome but booked into a country pub for a couple of weeks of B&B while looking.

After a couple of days the landlord realised I didn't bother with breakfast and said if I wanted to stay a few nights each week on that basis then he would offer me a £20 night rate.

By the time I accounted for camp site fees, tax, insurance and maintenance on a motorhome, the pub B&B option was unbeatable.

If you fancy a motorhome in any case and think you will get leisure use out of it then fair enough but a weeknights only, frequent and no hassle B&B guest is a very good "catch" for a quiet country pub.

There's a lot to be said for this. Sometimes booking on t'internet isn't always the best option. When you get to know landlords like this, you can often negotiate a better rate.

Btw, how long ago was this boomer?

One final thing I would say if you go the motorhome route is don't do it forever, it will be very easy for the months to slip into years [of living in a van!]. Set a fixed amount of time say 24 months and stick to it. Same if you go hotel/b&b route.

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Motorhomes and caravans aren't built with full time living in mind and tend to fall apart with prolonged use. With a mains hook up, things are a lot simpler - just use normal domestic appliances for heating, lighting and cooking. Although electric heating may be insufficient and expensive in the depths of winter - it may be worth looking into eiberspacher heaters.

My advice would be to avoid fitted out motorhomes in this situation. It's not possible to fit a whole house into a van, although many have tried. Start with a panel van and work out what furniture and appliances are actually needed for your purposes by living in it and developing it as you go. Condensation, smell and cold are the main problems to tackle. I'd avoid having a toilet in the van - it's not that bad going outside at night. Living in small spaces can be sort of fun and quite pleasant when you get the hang of it.

Budget four to five thousand for a panel van. Ex utilities fleet crew vans, which have extra windows fitted, are probably a good option for a diy camper. Transits (beware rot/ fuel pump), VW LTs and Merc sprinters are worth a look. Check mileage on old MOTs - clocking is a big problem with digital odometers.

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There's a lot to be said for this. Sometimes booking on t'internet isn't always the best option. When you get to know landlords like this, you can often negotiate a better rate.

Btw, how long ago was this boomer?

Finished in late 2011. Getting to know landlord and wife over the 18 months or so I could see they were barely breaking even despite working hard, keeping the beer well and serving decent quality pub food. A regular £250-£300 per month from me (plus whatever profit they made on my odd drink and couple of meals per week) obviously helped a lot.

One final thing I would say if you go the motorhome route is don't do it forever, it will be very easy for the months to slip into years [of living in a van!]. Set a fixed amount of time say 24 months and stick to it. Same if you go hotel/b&b route.

Agreed. I found that repeated nights away from home meant I lost out on hobbies and social contact, spent too much time on a computer (pub had free Wi-Fi :D), did not eat as well and generally became more lethargic. Probably don't have enough moral fibre or something because long distance lorry drivers seem able to cope!

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My advice would be to avoid fitted out motorhomes in this situation. It's not possible to fit a whole house into a van, although many have tried. Start with a panel van and work out what furniture and appliances are actually needed for your purposes by living in it and developing it as you go. Condensation, smell and cold are the main problems to tackle. I'd avoid having a toilet in the van - it's not that bad going outside at night. Living in small spaces can be sort of fun and quite pleasant when you get the hang of it.

Budget four to five thousand for a panel van. Ex utilities fleet crew vans, which have extra windows fitted, are probably a good option for a diy camper. Transits (beware rot/ fuel pump), VW LTs and Merc sprinters are worth a look. Check mileage on old MOTs - clocking is a big problem with digital odometers.

One of my friends, in fact it was Greek Tony, did exactly that! Just got a van and had it fitted out like he wanted. Saved a fortune on a ready made one. :huh:

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Probably don't have enough moral fibre or something because long distance lorry drivers seem able to cope!

Well in that case Frank will be fine.

And Frank, don't forget how Gregory Kloehn manages.

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Ta for replies but I have already gone off it. I was thinking cheap option but as I've spent 6 months in a B&B before during the week I remember how hard it is to have a proper life during the week and I think living a van will be worse.

So I will have to sort myself out a rental, dealing with agents again and deposits and council tax and utilities and... worth it in the end I suppose.

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