Sprinter Van Life | 4 Reasons The Trend Is Wildly Popular

by Vera Lawrence | LAST UPDATED June 10, 2021

Van Life
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People around the globe are ditching their overpriced apartments in exchange for van life vehicles like Sprinters. But what is Sprinter van life, and what makes it a good car for extended cross-country travel?  

This article will explain a few reasons why the van lifestyle appeals to so many people and why it's ideal for nomadic living. 

Before we begin, understand that "sprinter van life" is a term coined by those working and traveling out of their Sprinter vans. Although it's primarily a joke, the phrase has grown with the movement's popularity. For the sake of this article, it simply means living out of your Sprinter van! 

If you're interested in living the ultimate Sprinter van life, make sure you're up-to-date before hitting the open road. We've put together lots of informational content to help you cover all the bases. 

Start with our Beginner's Guide to Van Life and move on to van life costs to develop a budget. After that, make sure you've prepared your van life toilets and understand the ins and outs of van life parking.

The Appeal of Sprinter Van Life: 4 Benefits

A van parked under the stars

Exploring the world from the inside of a Sprinter van is an experience. You'll experience the local culture, visit famous attractions, and work and travel at your own pace. 

Aside from the tourist side of things, staying a bit longer in a single location also has benefits, like allowing you to meet fellow travelers. Van life also gives you the ability to experience travel uniquely. 

However, if visiting some of your most anticipated locations in a Ford Transit van with a custom build doesn't appeal to you, then being a full-time van lifer isn't the best plan. But for those keen on Sprinter van life, here are a few things to consider.

Quick Overview of Sprinter Vans: Pros and cons

Pros: The Mercedes Sprinter van is one of the most popular vehicles for van dwellings. This type of van is ideal for extended travel because it has a lot of headroom, and it drives more like a standard vehicle than anything else. 

Not to mention, Sprinter vans are powerful, fuel-efficient, and very durable. After all, Sprinters are transportation service vehicles, meaning they hold up well when driving cross-country.

van dweller standing on top of the vehicle

Cons: We've heard owners complain that they're prone to rust over the years, so please be aware if you're looking to buy one. I suggest giving the body and undercarriage a thorough inspection. 

In addition, Sprinters are a bit higher than other vans when it comes to price. Although parts and maintenance are nowhere near as expensive as those for RVs, they're still much more costly than your average car.

Sprinter Van Life Is Better Than a Cubicle

The truth is office work isn't for everybody.

When it comes to personal preference, you might not mind working at a desk every day. But pretty much everyone that's worked an office job can attest that there are too many restrictions.

However, not all offices are stuffy white rooms full of people in ties and buttoned-up dress-shirts, but a good portion of them feel like they've time-jumped from a 1960s black and white movie.

We're trying to say that it's easy to imagine why people working in those typically monotonous environments don't particularly enjoy it. 

Sprinter van life offers a new way to live and work with more freedom and flexibility than a traditional job. We'll be the first to admit that every job imposes some limitation on your daily life, whether it's a remote position or not.

Either way, everybody can agree that the digital nomad lifestyle is ideal for travel. And it allows you to freely explore the world at your own pace.

Work and Travel On Your Own Terms

A red VW bug for Sprinter van life

Working off-grid from a van sounds tricky, but it's pretty easy once you get all of your ducks in order. The good news is all you'll need is a reliable laptop and access to a semi-decent wifi connection.  

There's wifi at most gas stations, restaurants, or coffee shops, or you can splurge a bit and get a limitless internet deal for your phone and use the hotspot. 

A Note About Sprinter Van Life Jobs 

We won't go into the jobs that you can find on the road, but if you're interested, we've expanded on that topic in another article, covering some of the more attractive job options for digital nomads

We want to point out that the main characteristic of van life and digital nomad jobs are flexible schedules. Flex jobs allow you to set your work hours, meaning you can get your work done whenever convenient. 

Online work is also more liberating in employment contracts since they target freelancers and part-timers. Although there are considerable benefits to this structure, be aware you probably won't get any benefits. In any case, you should be able to make enough money to stay on the road for good.

DIY Tiny Homes Are Rewarding

Tiny homes in nature

Although building a DIY tiny home can be stressful, it's gratifying to do it right. 

There's not much better than aimlessly cruising around North America in your custom van build. Sprinter van life is a liberating experience, and you'll have fond memories of that period for the rest of your life. The key is to take your time and build it right, accounting for any necessities you may need along the way. 

How Much Does It Cost To Build a Custom Van?

If you're up to the challenge, there are many different camper van conversion companies to transform your Mercedes Sprinter van into an adventure van with maximum upgrades.

Aside from Dodge Sprinter vans, you can opt for the Ram Promaster vans, any Dodge cargo vans, or even travel worldwide on a school bus. Regardless, I prefer vehicles with a high roof and decent floor plan, but smaller than motorhomes. Gas mileage is extremely important also.

The point is you can turn almost any vehicle into the best camper van for your specific purposes, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune either. 

For example, a standard sprinter camper van goes for anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000, depending on the storage space, the state of the electrical system, the year, make, model, and various other factors.

Altogether, the price of the sprinter van conversion depends on you entirely.

yellow van driving in the mountain

You can make a complete buildout and go for a high-end package and turn your van into a sports mobile with an optional awning and a raised wheelbase for off-roading. Or you can buy a reliable van and stick a mattress and a bucket toilet in the back and call it a day.

We advocate going for the middle ground and maybe checking out some campervan layouts on sites like Outside Van to understand options for the interior better. 

You can buy and convert a van for as little as 20k or drop 100k on something over-the-top. Regardless, Sprinter van life depends on your budget and preference.

In all fairness, it's challenging to find a house or apartment in that price range. You'll probably spend more on rent in a moderately-sized apartment for a year than you would on a high-end house on wheels.

Sprinter vans are also generally dependable and easy to maintain, so as long as you're a considerate owner, you'll get at least ten years of life on the open road out of a reliable van.

Freedom In Minimalism

Living the Sprinter van life means cutting down on a few items. The good news is with fewer possessions comes more freedom. The key is to build an efficient setup that makes you feel comfortable. Before long, you'll realize that less is more. If you have no idea where to start, here are a few suggestions to help you begin furnishing your van.

Due to the large frame of the sprinter vans, there's enough room for a sizable bed and essential items like a portable toilet or a gas stove. However, you can't wash your clothes or take a shower without filling up a water tank, so don't forget the value of careful planning. Without it, you'll spend a lot of time running around to compensate for essential utilities, which isn't the point. 

After all, adjusting to the sprinter van life isn't as hard as it sounds, and fewer distractions mean that you can enjoy your surroundings and the new locations a lot more.

You can also hop on Amazon and get a few solar panels. These solar panels and an inverter can help you power all of your electrical devices and allow you to work without having to drain your van battery.

Add a propane tank for the cooker and a countertop with a sink for your dishes, and you're ready to tackle any road trip.

Final Thoughts About Sprinter Van Life

These are obvious reasons why Sprinter van life is so popular. Remember that not everyone's the same, and some van lifers enjoy life on the road for many personal reasons. Regardless, you need to understand the importance of careful planning and finding the best van for your specific needs.

Like buying a house or a new car, it doesn't pay to make impulse decisions with Sprinter van life. The best thing you can do is take your time to find a van that fits your needs and spend the money for good quality. 

If you have questions about Sprinter van life, please leave a comment, and one of our seasoned DIY van lifers will reach out! Otherwise, take a few moments to read some similar articles covering alternative lifestyles like tiny homes and off-grid living, to name a few!

Vera Lawrence
Vera is a part-time van lifer after spending nearly four years in her 1990 Ford E350 (named Fred). She currently lives in Utah and takes extended weekend trips into the desert with her two dogs. She is an ice cream fanatic and avid runner.

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