Buying a campervan in the UK is something an increasing number of us are doing, and it’s easy to see why. Travelling in a campervan unlocks so much, from the convenience of having everything you need on board, to being able to drive your home on wheels practically anywhere!

So, how do you buy a campervan in the UK?

There are many considerations for buying a campervan in the UK. Campervans can be bought from dealerships or private sellers and tend to be a considerable investment. Before purchasing a campervan, consider your needs and wants so you can find the ideal van that fits your lifestyle and travel plans.

We’ve all seen the countless polished posts flooding across social media with seemingly ‘perfect’ campervans, but this is just one side of the story. Yes, life on the road can be full of idyllic moments where you can park near beaches, almost feeling the salty sea spray reach your slide door, but what about the behind-the-scenes of purchasing a camper in the UK? 

Read: The Ultimate Guide To Vanlife (For Beginners)

Do I Need To Buy A Campervan, A Motorhome, Or A Touring Caravan?

At first glance, it’s easy to think a campervan, a motorhome, and a touring caravan are all pretty much the same thing… but think again! A campervan is typically a standard panel van converted into a camper with amenities such as a kitchen area, bathroom system, and a bedroom included in the build. Often larger than campervans, motorhomes are built with comfort and style at the forefront. 

They usually have high-end, glossy finishes both inside and out, appealing to slightly older travellers who desire comfort and the ease of plugging in at campsites across the country. A touring caravan fits into its own column as caravans are separate living spaces that require towing from another vehicle. Caravans have many pros and cons, but if you’re looking to live full-time on the road in the UK, the need to tow your caravan wherever you need to go may quickly become a logistical nightmare!

Where To Buy Campervans From In The UK?

Similar to cars, campervans can be bought from dealerships or private sellers in the UK. For vans that are ready to go, and need minimal work or adjustments, a dealership might be the way to go. These vans often have a high price tag, but if convenience and reliability are what you’re looking for, the help available at dealerships alongside warranties many offer can be appealing.

Of course, if you’ve got your eye on a self-build camper where you can tailor the interior to exactly what you need, it’s best to invest in a panel van. These can also be bought at dealerships but you may be able to grab a bargain by researching online and seeking out the deals private sellers offer. I actually bought my self-built campervan on Facebook Marketplace, but you can also buy them from Quirky Campers, eBay and various other outlets.

Check out – 10 Vanlife Essentials You Need For Your Campervan

festival girl with campervan, vanlife tips for buying your first camper van in the uk

6 Considerations For Buying A Campervan In The UK

Jumping into the world of campervans is exciting, but it’s essential to focus just as much on the elements you need in your new van, alongside the things you want. Buying a campervan in the UK is something many people are doing, but what are some of the key considerations to make before diving into a campervan purchase?

1. How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Campervan? 

The costs of buying a campervan in the UK can fluctuate substantially depending on a few factors such as the vehicle’s condition, age, mileage, size, and make. Campervan prices can range anywhere from £5,000 for a small, basic van from a private seller to £30,000+ for long wheelbase, modern, luxury camper conversions. There are even electric campervans that have been newly converted which sell for £80,000 – but I’m going to guess that this is out of most peoples’ price range!

Read: Choosing The Right Campervan Insurance

2. What Size Van Should I Buy?

Knowing the size of the campervan you need can make the buying process easier as you can rapidly filter out all of the vans that are either too big or too small. A larger camper will suit those travelling as a family or with pets, while smaller models may work better for those on a solo mission. It’s vital to consider the type of layout you’d prefer, as well as the belongings you plan on carrying in your van, as when you live in a small space, every inch matters!

3. How Will I Use The Camper Van? 

Vanlife has gained popularity, but it isn’t the only way to travel in a campervan. Alongside full-time vanlife, many choose to take their wheels for a spin on weekend adventures, long road trips around the country, and even part-time during summer holidays. Campervans can be used in a multitude of ways, and if you’re a beginner looking to get started in vanlife, it can be useful to jot down everything you want to do with your van, so you can better tailor your vehicle search.

Read: 10 Vanlife Essentials You Need For Your Campervan

Beginner's guide to vanlife, ultimate guide to vanlife

4. What Type Of Campervan Suits My Needs? 

There’s an incredible number of campervans for sale, each with its own functions, perks, and style. Before searching for a campervan to buy, it’s worth investing some thought into the type of campervan that will best serve you through your future adventures. Fixed roof campers require less maintenance than pop tops, and they also provide space for a log burner flue or solar panel setup. 

A pop top or elevating roof van, however, can beat height barriers and be more stealthy, especially when the roof is down. However, these smaller vans might be a squeeze if you’re on the taller side or travelling with multiple people. 

5. Do I Need An Off-Grid Campervan?

An off-grid campervan is a goal for many as it means spending less time plugged in at campsites (or friends’ houses!) and more time exploring the depths of the wilderness, supported by an off-grid electrical system. Generally, this is in the form of a solar set-up on the roof of a camper, with some travellers even fitting tilting brackets to improve the angle of the panels towards the shy British sun. 

Off-grid campers are a dream, being able to support extended periods of travel, but from new they have a hefty price. It’s possible to purchase a regular campervan and add off-grid features later, though it’s important to remember to fit an electrical system safely. If you haven’t done this before, I recommend getting in touch with professionals who can advise and help with the installation to ensure it functions correctly. 

Read: Wild Camping For Campervans In The UK (2024 Guide)

6. What Do I Need For An Off-Grid Campervan?

Off-grid campervans tend to contain a solar power setup supported by quality batteries such as lithium. If you intend on taking your campervan on long trips, away from cities and camping facilities, it’s a good idea to also carry a fresh water tank and a grey water tank on board, along with a toilet system, an abundance of gas for cooking (unless you’re using an induction hob), and a jerrycan of spare fuel in case you truly end up in the middle of nowhere! 

how to get wifi for your campervan or motorhome

Is It Cheaper To Buy Or Convert A Camper Van?

Buying a ready-built campervan and purchasing a panel van to complete a self-build both incur costs. There’s a certain luxury to buying a campervan that’s already kitted out and you simply have to move in, but these new campers tend to have a high price that surpasses that of a self-build. 

Budgeting for a cheaper van and completing the build yourself can keep costs far lower, whilst also ensuring you tick all the boxes for what you want in your van. Just be sure to hit the requirements set out by the UK government when the time comes to take your new home out on the open road! 

FAQs

Can You Legally Live In A Campervan In The UK?

Provided your campervan is fully road-legal and you adhere to the rules and regulations set out across the country, it’s legal to live in a campervan in the UK. Your camper needs to have a valid MOT, alongside being taxed and insured. The use of ‘no overnight parking’ signs is on the rise in the UK, so whenever you see these signs, it’s best to find a different park-up for the night. 

Do I Need A Toilet Or Shower In My Campervan?

A bathroom setup in a campervan is often the part of a build that gets people scratching their heads! Even if you have a long-wheelbase, high-roof van, creating enough space for a kitchen, seating area, bedroom, shower, and toilet can be tricky. For me, having a toilet on board is a non-negotiable and something I don’t plan on giving up anytime soon! A shower, however, is more debatable in my eyes. 

If you’ve got a knack for design, you may be able to incorporate a shower and toilet in your van in an innovative way that doesn’t take up too much space. As I travel so much, I’m often around sources of water where I can cold swim and freshen up, but for the times when I’m not near a majestic waterfall in Scotland, I’ve got a portable shower that works a treat.

How Do I Choose The Right Bed For My Campervan?

Getting a quality night’s sleep is essential, with a minimum of 7 hours being recommended for best health practices, but is it possible to achieve a great sleep in a campervan? Choosing the right bed is a fundamental part of a campervan as it’s where you’ll be resting and relaxing, ready to take on the adventures of a new day. 

Widthways and longways bed layouts are both comfortable, though the latter may be better suited to taller individuals. The widths of vans can vary greatly and may result in a bit of a squeeze for long-legged travellers, so this is a worthwhile consideration when converting or buying a campervan.