Now it’s official, I’m going to say goodbye the Josie :-(
After over two months of back and forth and very slow progress with the insurance company that's representing the garage that mucked up the Warrant of Fitness last year, things suddenly happened very quickly.
On Tuesday last week, I finally had enough of not knowing what's going on and why things are taking so long, which led to a somewhat stern email to the insurance company. Looks like that was exactly what they needed because two days later I received a settlement offer. They decided they do not want to attempt to fix the van and instead offered money to settle it – an offer I was happy to accept. Part of the deal was that I would keep ownership of Josie and I did consider using the money to get her fixed. But in the end, I decided not to - mainly because of the unpredictability of the repairs. Several rust repair experts I talked to told me that they won't know how bad it really is until they 'get in there' and that the total repair cost might end up being significantly more than quoted.
I didn’t want to take that risk!
So, with a heavy heart, I decided to let go of Josie. I listed her for sale (being very honest about the rust issues), and within two hours, I had several interested buyers. In the end, I sold her to a former panel beater who was looking for a bit of a project. He will pick her up next weekend, which means I've got a bit of time to clear out all my stuff and say goodbye.
I’m sad to see her go!! She's been such an awesome first van, and I have so many amazing memories with her. But I'm also excited for what is next.
Which brings up the question “What is next?”
Definitely another van! I've been back in Auckland housesitting for over two months now, and I'm more certain than ever that I want to be back on the road by the end of winter! The good news is, with the payout from the insurance company, the money made from selling Josie plus what I've managed to save by working a lot right now, I will be able to buy a new one as soon as one comes up. The much harder question is “What kind of van do I look for?”.
I still have the dream of doing a custom conversion. I would love to convert a van based on my ideas and taste and have a really unique van that’s 100% me. But I’m not sure if now is the time to do that. I won’t be able to do it on my own – I simply don’t have the skills, tools, time, or space to do it. So I would need to find someone who not only brings those four things but also has the patience and motivation to try and bring my dream to life AND let me help (being fully aware that me 'helping' is probably causing more work for them, haha).
And I really want to be back on the road by summer, so that means there is a bit of time pressure as well.
On top of that, there is a lot of uncertainty around my future at the moment. My book will be released either late this year or early next year, and I have no idea if/how that will impact and potentially change my life.
So, I'm thinking maybe I should just buy another 'ready to go' van now and then revisit the whole 'custom conversion dream' next year.
But even if I look for a 'ready to go' van, I still need to figure out what I'm actually looking for. So I made a list – and then realised I'm asking for a lot!
But, since I know several people from the motorhome/campervan/RV community in New Zealand are occasionally reading my blog, I thought I'd share my list here. Who knows, maybe someone knows of a van for sale that ticks my boxes.
So here it goes:
Similar in size to Josie (~5.5m long) – maybe a little bit bigger (would love a bed that’s >190cm long)
In excellent condition mechanically and, of course, not rust (learnt that lessons the hard way…). I will get the most thorough pre-purchase inspection done, so it needs to be able to pass that!
Easy to drive and park, including around towns. I prefer the van style over the big motorhomes.
Not too bad on the gas usage (Josie only needed 10-11liter on 100km which was pretty good)
Lots of storage for all my surfing and kitesurfing gear
Walkthrough from the back to the driver's seat – that's important to me for safety reasons given I'm on my own most of the time
Certified self-contained and set up for off-grid living (min 90l fresh and grey water tanks, solar, good batteries, etc.)
Diesel or gas heather (or space to install one relatively easily)
Would love for it to be automatic but that’s not an absolute must
Tidy and well laid out on the inside and something I would feel comfortable in (for example, I really don’t like the Transits that have the kitchen and bathroom in the back and the couch/bed behind the driver's cabin).
Bike rack (or able to install one easily)
A way to transport my surfboards in a way that's easy to load/unload on my own (so roof racks are not really an option). If I get a van similar to Josie I could get something built by the same guy who did the side racks for her, but that means the side door will be blocked and there is a limit to how wide the van can be.
An absolute dream would be a fully off-road capable 4wd campervan that I can drive on the beach J(for that, I might even be able to find a bit of extra $$$)
Ideally, I can find this somewhere in Auckland or at least the top half of the north island. I really want to view before buying and be able to take it to a pre-purchase inspection myself (I didn't for Josie and we all know how that worked out…).
How much can I spend?
Well, my absolute top limit is $45k, but it would have to be my dream van for me to be willing to spend that much right now. I’d probably be looking more in the $30 - $35k range for now.
I’m keeping an eye on Trademe, but if you see/hear of something suitable elsewhere, it would be awesome if you would let me know!
The good thing is, I'm in no rush. I'm committed to working and housesitting in Auckland till the end of August and could probably extend that if needed. And I just bought this super cute little 4WD to get around in for now :)