Owning a Camper Van has been popular for years here in the UK. The market for new and second hand Camper Vans has been growing to meet that demand. Suddenly the desire to be a Camper Van owner has seen a rapid spike and the market can barely keep up. The price of Campervans has risen in line with this demand. So how much is a Camper Van now? We’re about to explore the subject and find out.
Why The Sudden Increased Demand For Camper Vans?
Why have we had this spike in demand for Camper Vans? Let’s be straight about this. There was already a healthy demand for Camper Vans. But this new and rapid spike is almost all due to the rise of Covid and the sudden popularity of the Staycation (holidaying at home instead of abroad).
The fear of firstly catching and dying from Covid by going abroad and being amongst large crowds of unvaccinated people has convinced many to stay home. Then there are the contributing factors being on a flight breathing the recirculated air from the other passengers, and the worry of sudden flight cancellations which we suffered from greatly living in Spain but coming from the UK, there were the lists of Red, Banned Countries, PCR Requirements and of course, to top it off, Quarantine Regulations on return.
What Kinds Of Camper Vans Are Available?
There are two main markets for Camper Vans, the second hand market and the new market. Prices will vary wildly depending on which market you shop. We’ll look at how much Camper Vans are selling for in both so that you have a good Idea what you should be paying.
Camper Vans can also be grouped into Coach-built or DIY Models. We’ll only look at Coach-built models here, as they would be the only ones most people would consider if they were was making an expensive purchase such as this.
Camper Vans in both of the aforementioned markets, new and second hand, can be further broken down by their size and the facilities they offer. Camper Vans come it the following groups:
- Car Sized Camper Vans
- Work Van Sized Camper Vans
- RV Camper Vans
- Luxury Camper Vans
Let’s have a look at what’s currently available in each of these groups, and what they are selling for.
Car Sized Camper Vans
Car Sized Camper Vans or Mini Campers as they are also popularly called are very popular here in the UK and fill a certain niche market. They are well suited for the Hiking or Fishing overnight stays, but not so much for long term living.
They provide for the basic essentials such as Cooking, Sleeping and Toilet Facilities such as a Portaloo, but that’s about all. Storage space is obviously limited but many have incredibly creative space saving ideas implemented into them.
The benefits of having a micro camper over a larger version are that they are less expensive (sometimes), they are easy to park and manoeuvre, there’s enough room in them to eat, sleep and move around for 1-2 people and the fuel economy is excellent compared with larger Camper Vans.
Popular Brands of Coach-built Micro Campers in the UK are:
- Ford Transit Connect
- VW Caddy
- Peugeot Partner
- Fiat Doblo
- Renault Kangoo
- Citroen Berlingo
- Vauxhall Combo
All of these car sized campers are offered as professionally coach-build versions and are readily available in both the new and second hand markets.
You can pick up second hand versions for in the region of £8000, and you can expect to pay around £30,000 for a new version.
Work Van Sized Camper Vans
The most popular work sized Camper Van in the UK is the iconic VW Camper. They come in all shapes, sizes, models and ages and their wildly fluctuating asking prices reflect that.
The VW Camper (and other models) are big enough to stay comfortably in for longer periods than micro campers, but I still wouldn’t want to live in one for more than 4-5 days due to the lack of living space and storage.
An elevating roof seems more popular than having a permanently raised on for head room. The ability to drop it down to the normal height of the vehicle gives you the opportunity to still use many public carparks and drive it into your home garage too.
VW Campers come with all the facilities you would expect to keep you self sufficient for several days, but due to space restrictions you are unlikely to have fixed beds and a shower.
VW Camper Vans hold their price in the second hand market, and due to there being so many models of VW and some being far more sought after than others it is difficult to put a ball park price on them.
That being said, I’ll give it a go. A decent version of a T4 or T5 VW Campervan, with average mileage, that was Coach-built and was not a DIY Project should cost around £10-20,000 second hand and anywhere from £50,000 new.
Classic VW Camper Vans
Classic VW Campers are in a league of their own when it comes to pricing. A well restored Classic VW Camper, especially an older Split Screen Model can come in with an eye watering price label attached.
Older Models that have been lovingly restored can easily cost as much as the new versions coming in at £50,000+ too.
RV Camper Vans
We used to own an RV Camper Van and they are definitely big enough, and they have all the mod cons to enable you to live in them for extended periods of time of over a week or even permanently.
RV Camper Vans come fully equipped with pretty much everything that you would expect to have in a holiday apartment. Having things as simple as fixed beds, showers and a flushing enclosed toilet become fat more of a need when you are on extended trips compared with just roughing it for a few nights. They also have the added advantage over a holiday apartment of being mobile, so you can move whenever you like.
RV Campervans are too big to use as a family car, so unless you are planning on living in your Camper permanently, you are probably going to need a car or another means of transport too, which is an expense you will have to plan in.
Many RV Camper Van owners have a small moped or similar that they carry with them so that they don’t need to take the Camper with them if they need to run errands while boondocking or hooked up to a campsite.
RV Camper Vans are more expensive again than VW Type Camper Vans and can cost in the region of £40,000 in the second hand market and upwards of £80,000 new.
Luxury Camper Vans
As Camper Van and RV Manufacturers became aware that more and more of the population were trying out permanent “Van Life”, they began to cater for it by offering Luxury Camper Vans.
A Luxury Camper Van pretty much replaces your house or apartment and provides a massive amount of living space and storage over and beyond that offered by RV Camper Vans and smaller models.
Luxury Camper Vans are basically a house on wheels with separate rooms, fixed beds, kitchens, bathrooms and extraordinarily sophisticated space saving and adaptable room configurations.
Don’t underestimate how much these things cost though. A good second hand Luxury Camper Van, something built on a bus chassis with extending rooms, will cost in the region will cost around £150,000 second hand and upwards of £250,000 new. There are even Million Pound Campers available with interiors like this one below.
What Facilities Should Camper Vans Have?
In my opinion and in that of many others, there are certain things that a recreational vehicle must have in order for it to be considered a Camper Van and not simply a Day Van. These include, but are not limited to:
- A Toilet, portable or permanent
- Somewhere to cook
- Somewhere to wash
- Somewhere to sleep, either permanent or that can be set up
- The ability to move under it’s own power (So no Caravans!)
- Separate batteries for the vehicle and the living space
- A way to hook up to the mains power or solar power to top up the batteries
If these criteria and probably a few more that I have missed are met, then it’s a Camper Van and not a Day Van IMHO.
What Fuel System Is Best For A Camper Van, Petrol or Diesel?
In my opinion this is a no brainer, it’s Diesel. Diesel fuel provides higher power at lower rev’s than petrol, which is just what you need for pulling away from junctions and moving around Campsites in a large heavy vehicle.
Unfortunately, as I write this the UK is suffering the financial affects of Brexit (leaving the EU), Covid and the Invasion of the Ukraine by Russia and Fuel prices for Petrol, Diesel, Gas and Electricity have all rocketed exponentially. They look like staying high for the foreseeable future too.
These fuel rises, especially the rises in vehicle fuel may have some sort of a knock on effect in the Camper Van market. We’ll have to wait and see, but it should be prompting Governments to seek alternative fuel sources so that we can’t be held to ransom by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Shell and BP as we are now. One such fuel source which is free and abundant is Solar Energy.
In the future, hopefully the majority if not all vehicles will be powered by Solar Electric energy as the technology needed to produce it becomes more efficient and affordable, but for the time being Diesel Fuel is going to be my suggestion for a Camper Van without a shadow of a doubt.
What Are The Running Costs Of Owning A Camper Van?
The running costs of owning a Camper Van are a bit greater than those of running a family car. However, if you choose to live in a Camper Van permanently, then those costs become a massive saving on what you would have spent on a permanent home. Your biggest initial outlay is obviously going to be the cost of buying your camper van, but from the day you buy it, the main costs of running a Camper Van are going to be:
- Camper Van Insurance
- Breakdown Cover
- Regular and Periodic Maintenance and Servicing
- Fuel for Driving
- Fuel for Cooking and Heating
- Berthing of Campsite Charges
- Storage Fees if not kept at home when not in use
Can I Buy A Camper Van With Finance?
Yes, you can definitely buy a Camper Van with Finance, but as you are probably aware, financing your Camper Van purchase will significantly increase how much you eventually pay for it.
However, that being said, financing the purchase of a Camper Van makes sense in some people’s circumstances.
For example, if you are planning on moving out of rented accommodation and living Van Life, and you didn’t have the lump sum of cash needed to buy a Camper Van outright, you could finance the whole project with the money that you would have used for your rent payments and have somewhere to live, and the saleable asset of a Camper Van once the financing is cleared.
Will I be Able To Sell My Camper Van Later?
Almost certainly. There is a very strong market in second hand Camper Vans and they hold their price quite well after the initial drop when first bought from a dealership that all vehicles experience.
There are several online marketplaces such as AutoTrader in the UK, as well multiple dealerships that will sell your Camper Van for you or buy it from you.
It seems to me like I have never before seen so many Camper Vans on the road in the UK. The lifestyle has really taken off here, as it did in Spain where we lived up until last year.
I can see the positive trend continuing too, especially with the number of people being attracted to the unconventional way of living and working remotely known as Van Life, the rise of Covid and the War in the Ukraine that we are currently experiencing putting many off travelling abroad.
So, How Much Is A Camper Van And Is It Worth Buying One?
We’ve covered a lot of information here, but as you can see, it is possible to get into Van Life for only a few thousand pounds in the UK at least, and it is possible to finance part or all of that too.
The answer to our initial question of “How much is a Camper Van”? appears to be, as much as you are willing to pay. There is a price range to suit everyone’s budget.
On a personal note, our intention was always to buy an affordable Camper Van that was structurally sound with low mileage, which we could work on to improve, then trade up as we got more used to Van Life. That’s exactly what we started to do. You can read about it here…
Unfortunately, with the rise of Covid and the implementation of Brexit we ended up having to sell it and move countries from Spain back to the UK, which completely threw our plans into disarray.
However, I believe, unless of course you have a large stash of cash stored away somewhere, that this is a sound plan and should enable almost anyone to get into the world of owning a Camper Van quickly.