The allure of van life has been steadily increasing over the years, garnering immense popularity in the UK. The freedom to explore uncharted territories, break free from traditional societal norms, and connect with nature in an intimate manner has lured many adventure enthusiasts to this unique lifestyle. To fully relish the van life experience, however, it’s critical to make an informed decision about the type of van you want to call your home on wheels. This guide is designed to delve deep into the realm of vans and ascertain the best van for van life in the UK.
What Exactly is Van Life?
Van life is an alternative lifestyle that involves converting a standard van into a comfortable, mobile home. People adopting this way of life are typically driven by a desire for freedom, exploration, and simplicity, often choosing to travel extensively and live with minimal constraints. These converted vans, equipped with all the necessities such as a bed, a small kitchen, and sometimes a tiny washroom, become their mobile abodes, allowing them to live and sleep anywhere they desire.
Parameters to Consider When Choosing a Van
Choosing the best van for your van life adventure involves considering a number of important factors. These include:
- Size: The van should be large enough to comfortably accommodate all your daily activities but not so large that it becomes difficult to manoeuvre.
- Functionality: Ensure the van caters to your specific needs. Do you need a lot of storage space? Do you plan to cook often? How big should the bed be?
- Budget: Your financial situation will play a big role in the type of van you can afford. Don’t forget to factor in potential renovation costs!
- Fuel Efficiency: If you plan to travel extensively, fuel efficiency is a key factor to consider as it can greatly impact your travel budget.
- Mechanical Condition: If you’re buying a used van, its mechanical condition is crucial. A van in poor condition could lead to unexpected repair costs down the line.
Now, let’s explore some of the best vans that have been tried and tested by the van life community in the UK.
1. Volkswagen Transporter: The Iconic Choice
The Volkswagen Transporter is iconic in the world of van life. Its popularity stems from a number of key factors. For one, it’s incredibly reliable – a trait that’s indispensable when your vehicle is also your home. Furthermore, the Transporter hits the sweet spot in terms of size. Models like the T5 and T6 offer plenty of interior space to comfortably accommodate a bed, a small kitchen, and storage, yet they’re compact enough to handle the narrow and winding roads that are so common in the UK.
An added bonus of the Transporter is its impressive fuel efficiency. Given that fuel costs can add up significantly when you’re travelling extensively, this is a key advantage. Lastly, the Transporter boasts a strong resale value, which is a comforting factor if you ever decide to switch things up.
2. Mercedes Sprinter: The Roomy Beast
For those prioritising interior space, the Mercedes Sprinter is an excellent choice. Known for its superior height and length, the Sprinter offers the most room for you to stand, stretch, and move around comfortably – a luxury in the world of van life. The spaciousness also allows for a wider range of conversion possibilities, from extra storage space to a larger bed or even a small shower.
Not to be overlooked is the Sprinter’s reputation for reliability. Its robust build and powerful engine are designed for long-haul journeys, making it perfect for those planning to spend a significant amount of time on the road. The Sprinter’s strong resale value is also a considerable advantage.
3. Ford Transit: The Jack of All Trades
The Ford Transit is a highly practical choice for van life, particularly known for its versatility. The Transit range offers a variety of sizes and configurations, meaning you’re likely to find a model that perfectly suits your needs. From the compact Transit Connect to the spacious Transit Jumbo, there’s a variant for every kind of van lifer.
The Ford Transit has also earned a reputation for its robustness and longevity, which is crucial when you’re depending on it as your primary abode. Its popularity means that there is a robust market for used models, potentially saving you a significant amount of money. Furthermore, the wide availability of spare parts across the UK reduces the risk of being left stranded in the unfortunate event of a breakdown.
4. Fiat Ducato: The Spacious and Square
Fiat Ducato shines in the realm of van conversions due to its square-shaped build, which enables optimal use of interior space. This means less wasted space and more room for your living essentials. The Ducato is available in a wide range of models, offering options in size, wheelbase, and height to fit your unique needs.
Apart from its space efficiency, the Ducato also offers smooth handling and comfortable driving dynamics, ensuring your journeys are enjoyable. It’s worth noting that the Ducato has a front-wheel-drive configuration, which results in a lower, flatter cargo floor – a definite plus point when you’re fitting out your van interior.
In the quest for the best van for van life in the UK, remember that the ‘perfect’ van is highly subjective and largely depends on your personal needs and preferences. Whether it’s the legendary reliability of the Volkswagen Transporter, the spacious interior of the Mercedes Sprinter, the versatile options of the Ford Transit, or the optimised space usage of the Fiat Ducato, each van has unique strengths to offer.
Before making your decision, make sure to weigh all the factors – size, functionality, budget, fuel efficiency, and mechanical condition. Your van isn’t just a vehicle; it’s your home, your companion, and a significant part of your van life experience. Choose wisely and enjoy the thrilling adventure that awaits you in your very own home on wheels.