Why is now a great time to buy a van?

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).

Is it comfortable?

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.

How do you go to the bathroom?

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.

How do you shower?

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.

How do you sleep?

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.

How do you work?

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.

How do you cook?

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.

🔝 back to top


How easy is stealth camping?

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).

What are the other parking options?

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.

Why is this the perfect van for digital nomads?

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:

  • Large table with comfortable seating big enough to handle 2 laptops plus keyboards and dongles
  • Standing desk option with movable arms for a monitor and laptop holder (both included with van)
  • WeBoost 4G-X package to boost your reception wherever you go
  • Swivel seat up front (for when you're working near the ocean or other amazing views)
  • Ample solar to power all your devices + charge the battery during the workday.

🔝 back to top

I am VERY outdoorsy / I am NOT very outdoorsy - Can the van camp AND glamp?

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:

  • the bathroom doubles as a wet room for wet suits, hiking boots, boards, equipment, etc.
  • the floor (see flooring question) can take a beating and stay beautiful. It’s also VERY easy to clean
  • there is enough storage for all sorts of fun toys -- climbing gear, fishing equipment, photo rigs, drones, you name it
  • you can carry enough power/water to go for a week at a time without refill, if you’re careful
  • both sliding and back doors come with custom fitted nets/screens to make sure you can enjoy nature and a good breeze, minus the bugs
  • if you’re staying in campgrounds, this van fits easily in almost all tent-only sites -- no need to pay the upcharge for RV hookups and extra room

Not about boondocking? This van is also perfect for glamping, city living and all manner of non-outdoorsy adventures.

  • fits in well in any city (we've parked it in the heart of Chicago without issue) in a standard parking spot so you can eat out to your foodie's heart content with your home nearby!
  • all the power you need to Netflix & Chill on the comfy bed (we didn't spend all that money on a WeBoost for nothing!) in a comfortable temperature
  • love to shop? There's plenty of storage for that too.
  • if you’re staying in the ‘burbs visiting friends, you get all the comfort of your own space and your own cozy sheets while still being nearby for late-night board games

We have a dog/cat/pet - is this the right setup for them?

YES! The van was built with a pet in mind.

Pet-friendly features:

  • Maxx Air Fan with temperature monitor (the fan can be set to automatically switch on if the temperature gets too hot/off if it gets too cold).
  • Good insulation & air circulation - The van's been parked in direct sunlight before and the combo of insulation + fan + open RV window + window covers + curtains made it so it was no more than 5 degrees F hotter than the outside.
  • Canary Security Camera - the Canary Flex (which is installed in the van) - means you can check on your pet and van anytime, right on your phone. Just install the app and you can have peace of mind as well as alerts if there is strange movement/sound coming from your tiny home. You can also talk to your pet through the camera if you catch them up to no good! (Requires constant WiFi - previous owners used Unlimitedville and a Canary Membership)

🔝 back to top

Buying the Van

How much are you asking and is it negotiable?

Asking price is $64,500, firm.

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.

What's included?

The vehicle itself, plus lots of gear specifically selected for use on the open road. This includes:

  • Custom quilted magnetic window covers for the "house" part of the van
  • Vehicle-specific sun screens for the windshield and front windows
  • Two top-of-the-line induction cooktops, plus 2 compatible frying pans
  • A remote-ready workstation, including an HD monitor, laptop mount, and double monitor arm (which we also used as a TV for gaming and movies)
  • A Weboost Antenna, for excellent cell service while in the van
  • Custom-made couch/bed cushions
  • 2 collapsible camping chairs
  • A collapsible electric kettle
  • A top-of-the-line Nature’s Head composting toilet
  • Equipment for managing the composting toilet
  • so much more!

I want to come see the van!

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.

Can I buy the van today?

Yes! We're ready to hand over the keys as soon as the transaction is complete (see below for more info about that process)

Will you deliver the van?

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.

Do you have financing options? Do you accept trades?

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.

What state is the van registered in? Is it an RV or Auto?

The van is registered in Texas. It's got a regular auto title.

Does the title have a lien on it?

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.

How do we pay you?

We'll conduct the transaction using Escrow.com. This is for a few reasons:

  • This provides a layer of security handling a large amount of cash for you the buyer & us the seller. Read about their process here.
  • It will greatly speed up the money transfer process.
  • We're more than happy to cover the final sale Escrow.com fees (~$500). Note that Escrow.com requires the buyer to cover fees if you back out/withdraw funds.

Can you give us a step-by-step of the Escrow.com process?

Absolutely! It's quite painless.

  1. You express your firm intent to buy the van
  2. We'll create a "transaction" on the site at the agreed upon price
  3. You'll initiate a wire transfer from your bank to the escrow.com account. Note that your bank may charge you a small fee for this service (ours was ~$20)
  4. Notify us once it's cleared. They'll send you an email
  5. We'll meet in person. We'll go on the site and mark the van as "shipped" and you'll then mark it as "received"
  6. We'll sign over the paper title and hand you the keys. You'll drive off into the sunset!

Here are some general links:

🔝 back to top

Van Specs

What's the make/model/year?

The van is a Dodge ProMaster 2017

  • High roof
  • 159" wheelbase
  • Gasoline engine, 3.6L
  • Front-wheel drive

How many miles are on the van?

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.


What condition is the vehicle in?

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).

broken fixed

Are you the original owners?

Nope, but we purchased the van from the original owners (and builders).

Is the van still under factory warranty?

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.

How tall/long is the van? Can you park it anywhere?

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.

  • Length: 19’ 8” bumper to bumper
  • Width: 6’ 9” (mirrors in), 8’ 10” (mirrors out)
  • Clearance: 9' 4" (highest point with our WeBoost antenna & open MaxxAir fan)

We've parked and driven around Chicago, New Orleans, and Los Angeles without issue.

What kind of gas mileage does the van get? How far can it go?

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.

What's the weight rating & gross weight of the van?

We didn't measure it directly, but the previous owners told us this:

The weight ratings for the 2017 RAM ProMaster 2500 are...

  • GWAR (front): 4629 lbs.
  • GWAR (rear): 5291 lbs.
  • GVWR (total): 8900 lbs.

[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)

  • RVSEF results (Jan 23rd, 2019, scales accurate to 100lb. increments)
  • Front Driver: 2100 lbs.
  • Front Passenger: 2100 lbs.
  • Rear Driver: 1900 lbs.
  • Rear Passenger: 1800lbs.
  • Total: 7900 lbs.
  • GWVR is less than both GWARs added intentionally by manufacturer because vehicles over 9000 lbs require special licensing. So the real GVWR is more like ~9920 lbs.

What was your auto insurance like?

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)

🔝 back to top


What's the bed/table situation?

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.

bed table

How much water does the van hold?

The van contains two 7 gallon water containers:

  1. The fresh water tank can be filled from most water fill stations (we usually filled up with friends or used Prima water stations, found all over the country at grocery stores. It costs ~$3 for 7 gallons of fresh water).
  2. The gray water tank collects used water from the sink.

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!


🔝 back to top


What's the electrical setup like?

The house battery charges two ways:

  1. 600W of solar panels on the roof
  2. Sterling battery-to-battery charger that cranks out 800w when the van is running

The house battery supplies power to:

  1. 24V distribution panel that powers the lights & fans (w/ 2 USB outlets as well)
  2. a 2000W (6000W surge) AIMS inverter/charger, which power 6(!) different 120V wall outlets in the van (2 under the bed, 2 around the standing desk area, and 2 under the sink)

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.

How is the lighting?

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:

  1. one receiver controls the 3 upper lights - above the sliding door, above the kitchen counter, and above the RV window
  2. another receiver controls the 2 "movie theater" lights affixed under the lip of the counters (these are super handy for stealth camping!)

I'm not super techy, is the electrical system hard to manage?

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!

A DIY battery? Is that safe?

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.

What happens if the recycled battery starts to die?

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.

🔝 back to top

Build Details

Is it well-insulated? Does it stay cool and comfortable?

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.

What's the floor made out of?

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.


🔝 back to top