Given the current state of the world, RVs and vans are one of the only real responsible ways to travel! With your bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping facilities all self-contained, Serenity would be perfect for risk-free weekend or week-long trips out to the woods (or the beach or the desert or... you get the picture).
The two of us have found this van to be a comfortable full-time home for months on end. We lived in it as our sole residence for about 6 months, and could easily have kept going! For anyone who can rock a capsule wardrobe, doesn’t mind cuddling at night, and loves a new view, this is a great way to live and a great way to travel.
The couple who lived in the van before we did actually made do with even less space -- they had an Aussie Shepherd sharing their adventures. With just the two of us, we had plenty of room for all the things we needed, and a bunch of things we just wanted to have around: Vicky traveled with binoculars, books, camera equipment, sewing gear, and painting stuff, while David brought a PS4 on the first part of the trip, plus video games and a few small board games. We cooked gourmet meals, cuddled up in our own nice sheets at night, and got to live the life of constant explorers.
Composting toilets like our high-end Nature’s Head take maybe a day to get used to, and then provide a lifetime of convenience. We’re so happy we have never had to deal with blackwater in our van life -- our toilet separates liquids and solids, composting the solids into inoffensive dirt while liquids can be disposed of at dump stations or in toilets. If used properly, there’s a faint smell of fresh soil and nothing else. There's more info about the toilet on the Nature's Head site.
For $20 per month, we maintain a membership to a nationwide gym with locations in (amazingly) every city we have visited. We can both work out and shower any time we want, and we never have to scrub the tub. We also occasionally take advantage of our friends’ generous hospitality, and from time to time stay in official campgrounds that often provide showers.
We’ve set up our nearly full-sized bed with a foam mattress pad, a mattress cover, and happy whale sheets for a comfortable night’s rest. (If we need a table during the day, all of our bedding can be stored under the bed, so that the mattress cushions and pop-up table can be converted to a dinette.) With full custom blackout curtains and shades, the inside of the van is a comfortable private space.
It’s an exciting new world of work! One of us has a full-time computer-based remote job, and sometimes uses a jetpack or phone tethering to work from inside the van (check out the standing desk and auxiliary monitor in our van tour!). We also take advantage of WiFi in public libraries (bless the public libraries), coffee shops, and other hangout zones.
For the most part, we use two induction cooktops powered by the solar panels on top of the van and the batteries in the back. Induction is a great way to cook -- for a chef, it’s second only to gas, but doesn’t require refills of flammable substances like gas or propane stoves would. Vicky can’t live without a LOT of spices, fresh veggies, and a drawer full of cheese, so it’s a good thing the van has a built-in spice rack, a generous pantry, and a good-sized fridge and freezer, too.
We also added a microwave to our van kit -- it’s just ten inches tall, so it fits perfectly in one of our cabinets, and is a great way to quickly heat leftovers (and make popcorn) without using too much of our solar power.
Incredibly easy. There are blackout curtains for every window and a ton of sound dampening. We've tested Netflix at full volume with the window open and you can't hear it at all until you're a foot from the window. It's pretty spectacular.
The van itself is white and generic, so you don't stick out on a residential street (where we spent most of our time).
When we weren't stealth camping in cities or staying on friends’ driveways, we were either at official campgrounds or Harvest Hosts. We didn’t spend a lot of time boondocking, but that’s another good option!
Campgrounds are great because they've got all the amenities a traveler needs: water, dump stations, peace and quiet but with the option for socialization.
Harvest Hosts is a paid membership program that allows travelers to stay at wineries, breweries, and farms all across North America. These are typically super pretty and welcoming, definitely an upgrade from Wal-Mart.
Boondocking is staying for free on public land. Generally there are no amenities besides maybe a fire pit, so you have to pack in and pack out all water and waste. That said, there are some fabulously isolated and beautiful free camp sites all across the country.
The van was built to support 2 people working and traveling full-time, so there was always plenty of space and power to run both our laptops. While we didn't spring for wifi in the van, the previous owners did. They used a monthly plan through Unlimitedville and they loved it.
Some features that make this awesome for the digital nomad life:
Absolutely. The van was built with 2 very different people in mind (both of us live in here!)
The Promaster itself is a great van owned by many very outdoorsy people (Alex Honnold has one)! This one specifically is built to be comfortable, secure and safe. It's perfect for for all sorts of outdoorsy ventures:
Not about boondocking? This van is also perfect for glamping, city living and all manner of non-outdoorsy adventures.
YES! The van was built with a pet in mind.
Asking price is
We think that price is a pretty sweet value already for all the features this van has, and we dislike the awkwardness of negotiating for things. The price includes all the equipment below.
The vehicle itself, plus lots of gear specifically selected for use on the open road. This includes:
Awesome! We've got a great video right here:
We're also available via email for questions or virtual showings over Zoom or FaceTime if the above doesn't cover it.
If you're serious about purchasing the van, we can organize an in-person showing/test drive here in the SF Bay Area. We want to accommodate you the best we can (within the safety of the pandemic), so let us know what you need.
Yes! We're ready to hand over the keys as soon as the transaction is complete (see below for more info about that process)
We can deliver it anywhere in the greater SF Bay Area. We have some limited availability to take it farther, but there would be an additional charge.
Nope, we will only accept full cash payment for the van. No trades, payment plans, or enormous piles of candy will be considered.
There are plenty of options for financing out there! We've used Nerdwallet before and liked it quite a bit. They can give you a handful of estimates based on a soft credit check.
The van is registered in Texas. It's got a regular auto title.
Nope! The title is clean and in my (David's) name. I've got the original document that I'm ready to hand to the new owner.
We'll conduct the transaction using Escrow.com. This is for a few reasons:
Absolutely! It's quite painless.
Here are some general links:
The van is a Dodge ProMaster 2017
As of June 30, 2020, the van has 47,119 miles on it, most of which were picked up on the interstates. We've spent most of our time in cities, plus a bit of time camping. We don't anticipate putting many more miles on it besides drives around the neighborhood to keep it in good working order.
The van has had regular oil changes and tire rotations, as well as all the scheduled warranty inspections. The vehicle itself is still the original, off-the-factory-line parts.
The only major damage we've had was to the plastic on the back of the passenger mirror. It got cracked in the middle of the night while we were asleep. We patched it up well the next morning. It's also a pretty cheap replacement part if you want it done for real (aka without duct tape).
Nope, but we purchased the van from the original owners (and builders).
Yes. It's got an extended Powertrain Warranty, and that's good for 60 months (expiring 2022-11-20) or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. It stays with the van when we sell it to you.
The van fits in just about any old regular parking space, and is relatively easy to parallel park. The clearance makes it hit-or-miss with low clearances structures like drive-thrus and parking garages.
We've parked and driven around Chicago, New Orleans, and Los Angeles without issue.
We averaged 17mpg overall, most of which was on the highway. Less in the city, but we didn't keep track closely.
The tank is 24 gallons, so you can go 250 miles in a city and ~ 400 miles on a road trip.
We didn't measure it directly, but the previous owners told us this:
The weight ratings for the 2017 RAM ProMaster 2500 are...
[They] had the van weighed on a CAT scale (per axle) and by RVSEF (per wheel). Both weigh-ins were done with us in it + personal belongings + a full 24 gallon gas tank + a full 7 gallon freshwater tank.
CAT results (Jan. 5th, 2019, accurate to 10lb. increments) Front axle: 4020 lbs. (609 lbs. under GWAR) Rear axle: 3740 lbs. (1,551 lbs. under GWAR) Total: 7760 lbs. (1,140 lbs. under GVWR)
We insured it with State Farm as an RV. This covered both the cost of the vehicle itself, plus all of the build & fixtures. We paid ~$800 for 12 months of coverage. We also had cheap renter's insurance to cover our personal belongings (~$100 / 12 months)
The bed is made up of 5 cushions. These cushions were cut and created by friendlyfoam.com and are made of professional, marine grade foam. When the table is up they form the seating area, and then when the table goes down, they comprise the bed.
We store our bedding in the bench underneath the bed when the table is up.
The bed sleeps left-right and measures 66" head-to-toe (across the width of the van) and 48" wide (front-to-back in the van). This is a few inches shy of a "full" mattress and it can fit two average height people. David slept a little bit diagonally and Vicky could sleep whichever direction she wanted.
The table (room enough for 2-5 people, laptops etc.) sits on an easy to use Springfield Marine Pedestal.
About the bed cushions: They are not your basic "oh we cut this up ourselves from a piece of foam off amazon'' foam. They are high density professional quality foam -- they’re very comfortable and should last for quite some time.
Is it comfy? Quite! The cushions are firm and we do suggest using a mattress protector/softer foam on top + bed sheets. We're pretty picky about mattresses and we found the bed extremely comfy.
The van contains two 7 gallon water containers:
The water is pumped through the pipes to the sink by an Shurflo electric pump and accumulator.
And don't worry - the sink itself is big enough to wash your pots and pans!
The house battery charges two ways:
The house battery supplies power to:
The house battery itself is a 24V "DIY Telsa Powerwall" lithium-ion battery (more on that in its own FAQ). It has a 100 amp capacity (aka 200 amps in the 12V world, or about 2.5kWh of energy). It can safely go from 100% to 0%, so that's a TRUE 100 amps without having to worry about harming the battery.
The whole setup is monitored with a SBMS120. This thing is a freaking sweet little piece of technology that's a 2-in-1 charge controller and lithium BMS. It also has cool graphs to display energy in & out, and has tons of options to configure how it charges and balances the battery if you wanna get really geeky with it.
Our lights are 24V LED RGBW strips. They can show any color, plus white. They also have a dimmer, which is great for any time of day. You can control them via both a remote control and a touch panel mounted by the bed.
There are two separate "banks" of lights:
Not at all! The system is pretty dialed in, so you don't have to worry about much of anything. We haven't had to adjust anything in the system for the entire time we've owned the van.
Not only will we show you around some of the basics when you tour the van, we can provide you with an exhaustive detailed video manual for it. We’re also willing to help troubleshoot as best we can once the van is yours -- just send us an email!
From the previous owners/builders:
Yes, we literally MADE our battery. It was a crazy intense project but we're super proud of it, and it's been running strong and powering everything in the for over a year now!
It was made out of 420 "18650" cells recycled out of used computer batteries. If you Google "DIY Tesla Powerwall" and watch some videos you can find some people that power their whole houses with these things!
Each cell was thoroughly tested and selectively chosen, so they should still have a good amount of health left in them. Plus each individual cell has a tiny fuse on it that will keep it safe from overheating due to dangerous electrical currents.
There no signs of this happening so far! But, all batteries lose capacity over time. Even still, the battery should remain safe to use even as individual cells & packs begin to fade.
Once the battery capacity reaches a point where it doesn't give you the energy you need, a replacement would be a pretty easy weekend project. All you would have to do is get (8) 3.2v LiFePo4 battery packs like these (or something like them) and swap them out with the (7) 3.7v DIY ones in there now. We (and the original owners) are happy to lend advice when that time comes.
Yes. This van does a great job of staying at a comfortable temperature - all year around. We have traveled in hot summers, cold winters, and everything in between - the van is built to keep comfortable (and dry!).
The van is insulated in all the walls with rigid foam board and the all-around curtains do wonders at blocking hot/cold air drafts.
There's also a roof-mounted Maxx Air Deluxe Fan. It has a remote for easy control as well as a temperature monitor option so it will switch on automatically if it gets too warm. It can suck air out (great for cooking, etc..) and in (great for keeping a constant breeze in the space).
The only truly uncomfortable sleeping experience we had was a heat wave in the Chicago summer. We were trying to be extra stealthy with the windows closed, but it got way too warm. A cross breeze definitely helped, but at some point there's only so much you can do.
The floor is made entirely of high-quality COREtec Plus 5" Waterproof Vinyl Planks. They're completely watertight/proof with a cork underlayment.
It's great for walking around in socks when it's chilly and easy to clean! You'll absolutely feel the difference between this and lower quality flooring.