Camper Van (e.g. VW California)

Any thoughts from the Mustaschians on owning a Camper Van? Anyone here that owns one? How did you justify buying one?

Family of four (4 and 7 year old) and we’ve rented one a few times (mycamper) and really loved it. However, we go back to our home country (flying) 2x 2 weeks per year, and thus there is not so much vacation left for camping. Mostly only weekends, and realistically we would not go every weekend.
My workaround for the moment was buying a nicer tent and camping mattresses for the family and hoping car+tent would satisfy 80% of our needs. Using mycamper rental for early spring and late autumn when it is colder.

I’m relatively minimalistic and mustaschian, but for a VW California I was very close to say F-it, let’s enjoy life and buy one. As most folks on this forum we would have the money to buy one directly ‘cash’, which makes it even harder to refrain from.

Has anyone estimated/calculated what the total costs per year (incl. depreciation) would be? On VW California forums such threads typically end at “stop calculating and start enjoying”. My assumption is something like 10k per year, compared to 5-6k per year for a normal car we now have.
The solution might be to wait a year or two, and hopefully buy cheap(er) once the current boom is over and there is a surplus of supply.

Any other camping related comments or recommendations for swiss camping places is welcome as well :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I’ve bought one before I started mustachian way :slight_smile: T6 California …
We use it a lot, nearly every weekenda, every vacations.
All my vacation are really cheap, we nearly don’t go to campsite, and cook in the van …
It is difficult to calculate what you save on vacation, because I could use a tent. But it is so easy to leave on friday, even if the weather is not perfect. For exemple, we did 2 weeks in south France and with the gaz, it cost use 600 .- for 2 .

On the other side it is very expensive. Cost of acquisition, services, assurances … If you want I can give you more detail of what I spent. One advantage of a vw California, is that it doesn’t loss a lot of value. Even now I’m not sure about this, with the electrical crazyness. Some restrictions for diesel car are coming. Who will buy a diesel van, when new electrical van start to be available ?

If i would buy another one now, 100% sure. Not necessary a vw california, but build the interior by myself. I know better also my need and would need more space. Why not retire in it ? :slight_smile: (I don’t plan to have kids).

We use the app camp4night, people share free spot to camp. I use it in Europe (including CH) and works very well.

2 Likes

I’m quite excited for when electric campers become affordable. With a big battery and solar on the roof, you can be self sustainable for a long time and can go really offline. E.g. you want to run air conditioning for the night? No problem, no need to run the stinky engine or connect to an outlet. For the upcoming Cybertruck an independent company has announced an add-on called Cyberlandr. As you can see in the picture, it’s foldable, so you can fully hide it in the bed. But of course, not sure when the Cybertruck comes to Europe, if at all. And the add-on also only exists on renders.

3 Likes

I had the same idea and then I’ve looked at prices.

if I remember right, it was long time ago
new ones start from 60k- You can rent in mycamper for 135 day (let’s assume all included).

This is that you need to use 444 days.
Assuming that you will use X days a year (not for all your holidays as you go back home by plane)

In my case, I remember that I will amortize in 10 years. Excluding the maintenance, insurance…

So it is better renting when I want than buying one.

In a future where ICE vehicles face heavy restrictions I’d rather look at a modded ID Buzz for camping:

I agree that financially it does not make sense.
However, it is not a fully fair comparison. Especially for weekend trips it is a hassle to rent. You need to pick it up, drive back home, pack all you stuff, etc. and the same when you return. Having one yourself would enable you to have part of your camping gear all the time ready in the van. Any preparations for the week could be done throughout the week and then on Friday afternoon you can take off directly.

If you have it readily available, I’d be interested to learn more on the costs of having one in CH. e.g. does it end up being around 10k per year?

People keep stating that it won’t depreciate a lot, but I haven’t seen objective data on this yet. Any insights here?

Also, not loosing much of value might be true going from 2020 to 2021, or even a year or two onwards. However, due to the diesel and the incoming electric vehicles there might be a cliff-like drop in the value some years ahead?

I’ve been eyeing the ID Buzz. If they come out with a reasonably priced camper version (not very likely…) I’d probably be all over it.

1 Like

is there a non diesel version? cause if you buy new (there is like 6-12 months wait I’ve heard, you know…pandemic effect (everybody wants to camp alone) + chip shortages) you are getting it in 2022, you keep it what 10 years? good luck selling a diesel vehicle back in 2032, when competing against electric vans. the remaining value is going to basically be 0, and the vehicle will not be able to enter most european cities (diesel ban)

so you have a much larger depreciation than normal when buying new.

There is also a petrol version, but only a small minority of the ones on the streets are petrols.

IF I would get one, I’d more likely buy a 2-5 year old occasion. As you highlighted, the risk for massive depreciation in some years is there and is an additional argument against buying.

We have a T6 Ocean (with the kitchen) for 4 years now. Our kids were 3 and 5 when we got it. We’ve loved it…and it has gone around Switzerland, and Europe in the last few years.

Loads of fun, the kids love it, and we are really glad we took the plunge.

That said, we are now looking to sell it. Not because of any issues, just that now our lives are different and we don’t have the flexibility to go away like that anymore (kids are always busy at the weekends, holiday times have different priorities).

It will be a really tough thing to part with, as we’ve had a great time, but we are very happy to have the fun memories, and we will certainly be renting one in the future.

2 Likes

Hi all! I purchase my VW T6 California Coast 3 years ago and loving it! I paid a very good price of 44k CHF after a lot of negotiation and pushing several dealers to push the price down. On top I was lucky and they gave me the Automatic version DSGS for free due to the problems VW had with the dieselgate.
When I purchased it, I was checking 2nd hand market and that’s crazy… it was more expensive than new. Germany and Spain were also more expensive.

Insurance I got Zurich Versicherung and I pay 1100 chf and have it fully covered in all cases
Zurich circulation fee is around 800 chf a bit expensive in my opinion

And the consumption I get on my trips is a bit less that 8 liters per 100km.

Any more tip or question please feel free to connect with me.

I was hoping to get unanimous justifications against buying one, but now my interest has started again :slight_smile:

@disaga87 44k for a new one is very good deal, it seems like nowadays one would easily need to pay 60-70k for one.

Similar to the comments from @ehwhynot , @disaga87 and @Definitelynotdave, most people who have (had) one seems to have loved the experience. Was the van your only car, or you had a normal car in addition?

Any recommendations for great/best camping places in CH (with kids)?

1 Like

well back when we were kids we had a Toyota Previa, which was a simple van no accessory/kitchenette whatsoever. We would travel around switzerland with it but we would always use a tent and a trekking gas stove to cook. if it was raining too strongly, we would sleep in the car or simply go to a hotel. We had lots of great experience and we didn’t need something with a kitchen inside so to speak.

There are more considerations as well. Do you have space to park it? we know somebody in the city with a california. They alwas need to park on lateral tight spot near their home. I think they need 10 minutes each time :smiley: :smiley:

2 kids, 3 and 5, best purchase of my life. We don’t need a second car, so this is our only vehicle (T6.1 california). Over the past 12 months I’ve spent more than 15 weeks in the van, most of the time also with the kids. holidays, many many weekends, sometimes during the week just because we can. With the best mountains of the world within a 1hr range it would be ridiculous not to do it.
unexpected saving effect: will be moving further away from work soon, into the mountains. commute will be 60-75min one way (instead of currently 15min). So will probably stay for one or two nights a week in the city where i work to reduce commuting. there’s a camping place next to my office, we have great showers etc at the office, so instead of hotel or renting a room i’ll be perusing the van for my one or two nights per week. for some this may sound like a sacrifice but I absolutely love this thing and every minute I spend in it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this has literally changed my life for the better!


Forgot to add that we spend most of our holidays now in the bus (corsica, garda, sardegna, greece and in the future hopefully iceland, mongolia, norway) because we enjoy the freedom and sense of adventure that comes with it. again nice financial side effect of being considerable cheaper and without the frustrations that we got so often when booking hotels or resorts which ended up being too touristy for our taste or simply not what we liked.

2 Likes

Nice wheels! :smile:

(twenty characters)

3 Likes

Wow, what a beast! Looks nice :slight_smile:
I guess 2 people are sleeping in the roof tent so probably you are not really using it during winter right? Or with some sort of heating is doable?

I was also looking for a campervan/main car solution (i would use it as normal car only for massive shopping in Germany or visiting friends far away as everything else i can do with the bicycle) however for me important is to have toilet/shower inside plus 3/4 sleeping berths without a tent (so can also use it for skiing holidays). I actually found several solutions at 5.40 length (i.e. only 40cm longer than the VW) at a similar price (if not cheaper that) to the VW… Aside the fact that these are probably taller (thus probably difficult to go into underground parking spots) I struggle to understand why so many people choose the VW instead of these solutions? Anything I am missing?

I guess the fuel economy with a full watertank is not the best, and also bigger size means bigger costs (insurance, parking etc.)

Also be aware that on some of this vehicles, the breaks have been designed for a certain level, but not adapted to the whole equipment (especially some vehicles are on the weightlimited unloaded and once you throw some bags and people inside, not anymore).

4 people - 2 on the roof, 2 “downstairs”. Winter and summer. You can turn this thing into a Sauna with the heater if you like.
Shower on the back, but outside and cold but that’s perfectly fine for a quick wash even in winter.

Quick look inside during a rainy winter day:

For the toilet, I have a Bivvy Loo (https://www.carplife.uk.com/product-page/bivvy-loo) which is cleaner than most chemical toilets and all fully biodegradable. And it takes literally no space.

There are for sure many cheaper options with more space and functionality. I went with VW because I need it as a daily driver. It drives like a real car (and has similar safety ratings and behaviors in tricky situations), and I didn’t want the daily driving experience to be an inconvenience. It’s a joy to hop into the bus on a Friday afternoon and drive to austria to visit the grandparents for the weekend - I wouldn’t do that with something slow and cumbersome. Same for a quick shopping tour into the city - small and agile instead of big and cumbersome.
Lastly, VW have 25 years of experience with that platform and you can tell. For my taste, it’s the perfect mix of functionality, convenience, and reliability - everything just works and you can tell that German engineers have perfectioned the layout of every little detail over decades.

Of course there’s downsides: some things are flimsy and brake quickly (but are easily replaced), and mostly it’s very expensive but it’s exactly what I wanted and needed and, after 2 years and plenty of weeks spent in the van, I would not do anything different.

For the future, I might consider going with something bigger like a Sprinter conversion or a Poessl, but that would be a secondary vehicle and a very different use case.

3 Likes

I was lamenting the same thing from 2014 until 2017, then I bought the first one, and in the same year MyCamper came along.

TLDR: GO GO GO!

So it plays out like this (psst, trade secret!):

  • you buy the car for 60k-65k, good buying position in September to November (gotta wait 6+ months for delivery though)
  • you get the car, put it on mycamper and accept that there’s a good chance that strangers are gonna have sex on that bed. :stuck_out_tongue: Swiss customers are otherwise 99% lovely and very caring with your property. MyCamper takes 25% cut. The usual net season income is around 6-12k per car, before costs and taxes, depending how keen you are at renting or if you just want a zero-cost baseline like I do.
  • after your second season, 30-40t km on the tacho and about 15 to 20k CHF taxable income on the car (minus about 8k taxes, insurance and garage rentals), you sell the car for 4-6k less than new (not kidding!)
  • net: 5k win, plus you had a camper for 2 years. The winter you sell, you order the new one. The best is: you need to only pay VW at delivery time!

if someone wants to try renting a camper first to try, here’s our MyCamper link… err, rather ping me in private if interested, this is not a marketing forum. :slight_smile:

edit2: you can’t buy a Cali this season as VW has totally screwed up with deliveries (corona, ever given and now chip shortage) and you’ll get zero discount on list prices. AutoScout has <5 vehicles at any time in the category. Also waiting times are 9+ months if you order today.

By reading and partipating to this forum, you confirm you have read and agree with the disclaimer presented on http://www.mustachianpost.com/
En lisant et participant à ce forum, vous confirmez avoir lu et être d'accord avec l'avis de dégagement de responsabilité présenté sur http://www.mustachianpost.com/fr/