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All of my questions are coming from an economic point of view. I want to have a van for the next few years and then probably sell it to do some world travel. Accordingly I want to have this cost me the least amount possible over those few years.

Though we're anxious to get a used van now, I've told my wife it's probably better to wait until September as demand should be down and newer models coming out soon, hence lowering price of older vans. Agreed?

It's probably best to buy from a private owner but tha't hard to find. Do you think it's better to buy from a new car dealer's used inventory or from a used car dealer who specializes in vans (for example Curmsons in Queens, NY)?

Is it better to buy the newest van I can afford with 20-30k miles, or go older with 80-90k miles?

I have zero build skills. Should I a) get an empty van and find a van builder, b) get an empty van and try to piece in the parts using various tradesmen c) get an already built van?

I would be using the van for 2-3 month trips around the country. Mostly staying in camp grounds but also doing some stealth and boondocking.

By the way I test drove a Promaster and didn't like the feel at all. I couldn't imagine taking it on long trips. I'm hoping my test drive of a Ford will be better.
 

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It depends on what options you want. Some are really hard to find used. I had to have the 3.5 turbo and couldn't find a good used price when i was looking so i bought new off the lot in September and got a good deal.
 

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The van business is funny, and 2020 economics and planning are a bit out of whack with history.

In 2019, amazon and other delivery companies purchased so many vans that it really stressed the ability to buy a van that wasn't very plain Jane if at all.

In 2020, covid shut down the factories for a while and it seems like Ford and the others are finally starting to crank out vans in real volume for conversion van users.

Covid has also made air travel much less appealing, so a lot of people are buying RVs and conversion vans. I know that this will sound odd but some people in this area are buying vans just to have access to a simple bathroom because all of the public bathrooms at restaurants and gas stations are closed. That limits travel to how far you can drive and hold it in a sedan or pick up truck, but a 5 gallon bucket can work in a van.

Car rental agencies and similar travel use companies are selling inventory when they can.

The switch from 2020 to 2021 models is coming at some point. ( I don't know when). Will Ford really take its only Transit factory off line to convert to 2021 models with so much market demand going on? That has to be a tough decision right now.

For long trips like that, it might be better to consider a truck and trailer or a class B RV.

The idea of stealth camping is a fun concept but just so you know, everyone can tell what is going on.

What I can tell you is that the van upfitters are pretty busy right now.
 

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From what you describe, I'd go with a Winnebago conversion of your choice. Get the newest used one you can find, this will make maintenance and selling to recover value easiest. If you have a custom conversion and any problems it will ruin the experience or force learning some skills and paying for specialized labor.

That said, if you're weekending in it, and you can get by with simple Ikea furniture and a fridge with fabric held on the walls with magnets and a couple LED lights, then a empty van new or used can work out well.

It's really up to you, just some considerations.
 

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I am living proof that determination can overcome having no skills. I literally had to buy a jig saw and a circular saw to build out my van. I researched all the alternatives for electrical, water, ventilation, insulation, fridges, Internet, wiring, etc. If you have the time and determination you can do it with basic tools in your driveway and then you have something you built and can fix. If you don't have the interest, buy something already built.
 

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The old lore was that November was the best time to buy a new car, because sales are down and next year's models are now in stock, so no one wants LAST years trim package!

But like mentioned above, vans are becoming sought after right now, and production is down. It's a classic supply and demand scenario, so vans aren't cheap. I'd look for a rental that is still under warranty, if the dealerships haven't bought them all to re-sell already.
 
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All of my questions are coming from an economic point of view. I want to have a van for the next few years and then probably sell it to do some world travel. Accordingly I want to have this cost me the least amount possible over those few years.

Though we're anxious to get a used van now, I've told my wife it's probably better to wait until September as demand should be down and newer models coming out soon, hence lowering price of older vans. Agreed?

It's probably best to buy from a private owner but tha't hard to find. Do you think it's better to buy from a new car dealer's used inventory or from a used car dealer who specializes in vans (for example Curmsons in Queens, NY)?

Is it better to buy the newest van I can afford with 20-30k miles, or go older with 80-90k miles?

I have zero build skills. Should I a) get an empty van and find a van builder, b) get an empty van and try to piece in the parts using various tradesmen c) get an already built van?

I would be using the van for 2-3 month trips around the country. Mostly staying in camp grounds but also doing some stealth and boondocking.

By the way I test drove a Promaster and didn't like the feel at all. I couldn't imagine taking it on long trips. I'm hoping my test drive of a Ford will be better.
I think that unless you already are connected w/ a van builder or tradesman who can help you, or can find one, it's hard to do the $ calculations on the cost of a build. You will need a clear design and have a tradesman give you a bid or estimate.
Thus I think for you the best option is to buy something already built for camping, eg one of the manufactured camper vans or small RVs. Try to find a used one. Or perhaps buy a van someone else has already converted. This way, you know exactly what the cost is, and I think you're going to have an easier time selling it, because it's a standard product. I believe there is likely to be more market for a standard camper van than for something custom built, unless it's quality is really good.
I would suggest it's better to buy from a new car dealer's used inventory if possible. That's what I ended up doing. I shopped around at both new car dealerships with used on their lot, and dealers who only sold used cars, and the latter did not provide very good service. The new car dealers I believe are more motivated to provide good service b/c of the need to back the brand.

I think it's generally better to get a younger vehicle with less miles on it, but some of the older vehicles with more miles might be in good condition so consider them. However the latter are less likely to be sold by dealers, more likely to be sold by individuals.

I was quite impressed when I test drove a Ford Transit!
 

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A couple of points not covered yet:

Buying new; I would avoid buying a model built this year. There are a lot of temp employees on the assembly line due to covid, and I can only assume that means some build quality issues are going to happen.

Buying used; New cars are incredibly complex, difficult, and expensive to work on. I think a cpo (certified pre owned) is worth the money from a dealer.

Build yourself or pre built interior; Pre built, but only if it's done by a reputable company. Billy Bob might have done a nice job building his camper van, but you have no idea where he sourced his parts from, you have no wiring schematic, etc. You can also buy a bare bones van and budget a pro to do the conversion, but this is by far the most expensive route to take, and as mentioned previously, most builders are really busy right now. Some are two years out for completed vans.

Good luck.
 

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Depending on what you want for amenities, not living full time, you may want to consider a kit like the wayfarer kit.
I was seriously considering it before deciding to do a DIY build, its about 10k for most of what you need, and they pre build it and install it in one day. they you just need a goal zero or similar solar generator and some camping gear, and you are ready to go.
 

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I am a cheap skate and bought mine at the end of the month at the end of the year in 2019 when prices are usually near the bottom as they try to clear out the old models.. There wasn't alot of choice to pick from but I found a 2019 MR pretty stripped model and walked out the door after some tough negotiation for $30,100 plus tax.

At the time a 2 year old used model with 20k miles of unknown "history" was around $26,000. and still hard to find locally so I thought for a few grand more a new one with warranty was a better value for me and am happy with the purchase so far.

Even though I paid cash I never mentioned that until the very end when the guy in the finance tries to squeeze you for all kinds of extra charges, fees and higher interest rate (that's where they make $ in the financing dept) and they were pretty pissed and even tried to reneg when I stroked them the check but by then I already had an invoice in hand. Those guys are a snakey buch you should have heard the bs fly by the time I got out of there.
 
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