Getting a van in Europe. How to make it happen?

How we came up with the idea of buying a van?

Since the first day I met Marcos, I knew he is an adventurous spirit, and it is something that caught me in him. After some time spending together, I got to know about his dream of living in the van. And that is fine; everyone got some crazy ideas in their heads. Thus, I didn’t take it very seriously from the beginning, but the more time was passing, the more I realized that he was quite serious about it. And being honest, it felt quite scary. How are we gonna live in the van, when it is so tiny? And what about showering? How will we manage to have needed home facilities? And etc. Worth mentioning, that our Spanish friends Olga and Edu have a van. And in a meanwhile, we went on a weekend trip with them to experience the van life. And I have to admit it felt very different from any other experience. Thus, we went through long discussions and finally (I still don’t know how) Marcos persuaded me with his idea of living in the van. Eventually, even I started feeling excited about it 😀

Where to start from?

After staying for 2 months in Thailand we headed to Spain and started the search straight away, as I can stay only for 3 months in Spain. At first, we looked for options in Marcos’s home country but became not being satisfied with the “price – quality” states. Then we expanded the search and started looking through many different websites across Europe, and the most helpful turned out to be:

HINT: You might be surprised, but the car markets in the Netherlands are better than in Germany (the overall state of the cars, mileage, prices, etc.). We were surprised at first, but a constant search through major European websites proved that to us.

How to maximize search?

When we just started, we would send links to each other and share the results with the social media. But after a day or two, we would become confused or forget some details we considered as important ones. That is when we realized that we needed some order and created an Excel spread shit between us. We defined specific features and filled the gaps with information we gathered about every van we liked. After a week we found that the list was growing, but almost nobody replied to our emails yet.

So again we had to reconsider ours search strategy… We came to an agreement that we need to call (instead of writing emails) and that will speed up the process. We put some money on the skype account and in one afternoon I could already clean half of the spread sheet. And guess why? Because many of them turned out to be a FAKE!

Be aware of scams

YES, lots of fake advertisements that also became another challenge on the way to optimize the search.

HINT: If you find a very good option, with a decent mileage, at a good price, scroll to the next one. You got very high chances that you found a SCAM. At least in our case, it was 100% tendency.

An example of the SCAM: Happened to us, that we found a great deal, and the owner was very nice and talkative. He explained everything about the car, sent lots of pictures of the car and also his (FAKE) passport details. So make sure to zoom in the pictures and check them closely. After all, he started asking to make a deal from the distance! He offered us to transfer money to an independent finance company and if we don’t like the car (after being delivered to Spain) he would give us money back.

Summing up everything we would also recommend looking for the cars through the car dealers/companies (and not the private sellers). At the end, it will save you lots of time when it comes to the paper stuff and those are more likely to be real.

Time to make a serious decision

After weeks of constant search, we already became tired and way more demotivated as when we just started. If you find yourself in the same condition, it is time to make a serious decision and take an exit from a closed circle.

So we finally took a decision of taking a plane to Amsterdam and checking the options we have found. We targeted the place that had 2 vans at the same place, and one more in the neighbor city. Which meant that in one go, we can see at least 3 vans.

HINT: If your car dealers located in the different towns, it can be cheaper to rent a car and check them out. You might be surprised, but usually, they would cooperate with the rental companies and you can drop a rented car at their place. Thus, you will save lots of time and some money as well.

At the beginning, we visited the first place with 2 vans and realized that those were worse than we expected. We spent at least 5 mins on each trying to open the side and rear doors. So we took a decision of going to the next place and seeing our last option. It was risky because we were very limited in time and to get to another town was at least 2 hours by bus. But eventually, we managed to get there 5 mins before the closing time…

You need to fight for what you love

And when we saw her, it was like a love from the first glance… strong and forever. The sales person was very kind and stayed longer with us in order to prepare all the documents and make the van road ready. And everything could have been done in less than 30 mins if another challenge didn’t appear. In the Netherlands, you cannot withdraw more than €700 per day from a debit card and €500 from a credit card. And after hours of trying we finally figured out that the limit of withdrawal applied for each single withdrawal. And once you raise a withdrawal limit of your bank you can withdraw as much as you need. For that, you just need to withdraw as many times (every time €700) until you reach the desired amount.

HINT: if you plan to buy a car abroad and don’t want to carry money in cash with you make sure to raise the withdrawal limit applied with your bank.

So long story short, after weeks of constant search and many hours of fights we finally saw a physical representation of our hard work.  The late nights spent on making our dream true now were paid back. And it felt exciting as never before because ahead we had a long driving trip back from Amsterdam to Barcelona… 1600 km in 30 hours, and it is just the beginning of an exciting decision we took a month ago…

With lots of love,

Yours Olena


Kind regards from Marcos and Olena. We enjoy to explore life and share our experience with others! Follow our outdoor adventure and become part of our story <3


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