Converting vans into campers has been an increasingly common lifestyle decision. However, it wasn’t until the covid pandemic caused the borders to become restricted that almost every middle-class family decided a camper is very much on the table.

Having your own camper means being able to explore your local country for less money than staying in hotels, yet is more comfortable than camping. However, many waste a lot of money on this endeavor and fail to understand the finances of it.

When looking through a wide range of Volkswagen Crafter vehicles, you will soon realize that it’s a lot cheaper to buy one of these than a purpose-built camper. Purpose-built campers can be tempting because they tend to be larger, but with this space comes both a great cost and a great inconvenience.  Plus, some of the purpose-built VW campers are simply too small, meaning the parcel vans strike a perfect middle balance.

Having a commercial parcel van, for example, is likely going to fit inside more car parking spaces than a purpose-built camper, and so this is one area that you will save money - besides the vehicle itself. Another reason is that a van made for commercial parcels - or even if it isn’t and it’s simply a leisure VW van - it’s likely going to last longer and be cheaper to fix and maintain.

You could buy a Volkswagen Crafter van that’s already been converted to a liveable camper, but these are roughly in excess of USD$100,000 / €90,000. Buying your own crafter for €40,000 and converting it yourself, or even paying a builder to do it, will always end up cheaper. If you pay someone else to build the conversion you also have the luxury of designing it and requesting customized designs.

Monetizing Your Camper

You could rent a camper as and when you want to use it. This would end up cheaper if you’re only planning on using the camper a couple of times per year, but even then, it’s a close call. First and foremost, your converted van isn’t going to depreciate in the same way as a regular car. Firstly, you can purchase a second-hand van in order to limit the immediate depreciation. Secondly, your conversions will actually add value, thus offsetting a lot of depreciation - meaning that when you come to sell, you will get back a lot of money still. 

There is a hidden final benefit, too. When renting a camper, you will find the prices to be quite extortionate for what it is because demand is high and supply is low. You’re looking at over €100 per night for a converted van - and that’s at the lower end. In other words, when you own a van, you can monetize it when it’s not in use. Renting out the van can turn your van into a lucrative business opportunity, all whilst being able to use it whenever you like. It’s not inconceivable that you make your money back on the van. Renting the van out for 100 nights a year will likely result in roughly €10,000+ in revenue. Whilst there are still costs and depreciation, it’s worth considering.