If you're dreaming of life on the road, there are a lot of options. Some people travel around in large RVs or motorhomes. They provide a lot of conveniences, but they're also tough to maneuver and find parking for. Towing a pull-behind camper is another set of obstacles. But what if you could travel in a large, roomy van? The Ford Transit looks big - big enough to stand up in? And would it make a good camper?
The Ford Transit is growing in popularity among those converting vans into campers. It comes in three basic models - the Cargo, Crew, or Passenger Van. Each model has pros and cons, but the options available for both roof height and length make it a great choice. It's easier to drive and park than a full-sized camper, and as of 2020, it even offers all-wheel drive.
Keep reading to learn more. We'll explain why Ford Transit is such a popular choice and why many van-converters have picked it. Next, we'll cover the different models and help you decide which one is the best choice for you. This article explains the different sizes available and the variety in height and length. Finally, for those of you who want to make sure that living in a van is legal, we'll cover everything you need to know there.
Can You Live In A Ford Transit?
A quick Google search will tell you - not only can you live in a Ford Transit, but some people already are! There are personal stories and testimonies out there of people who have already figured out how to make living in a Ford Transit work.
For some, living in a Ford Transit is more affordable and convenient than buying a full-sized camper. It's easier to maneuver on the road, and you can take it just about anywhere. Particularly if you're living alone and can make do without many modern conveniences, it's an efficient way to travel and live in the same space.
Ford is also known for easy, accessible parts. Mechanics and garages for Ford vehicles are everywhere. So, if a problem should occur during your travels, getting back on the road will be a fairly simple task.
Which Ford Transit Is Best For Camper Conversion?
Currently, the available models for Ford Transit include the Cargo Van, Crew Van, Passenger Van, and the top-line Passenger Van XLT. There isn't one model that's best for conversion. It's more a matter of your budget and personal needs.
The Cargo Van is the most affordable for those working with a bare budget. It seats two, and you can select several options for height and length. Choose between low, medium, and high roof and a regular, long, or extra-long length. The extra-long (EL) model has 487 cubic feet of cargo space or 246 cubic feet with the smallest options.
The Crew Van adds a few more seats, with a maximum seating capacity of 5. Of course, you lose some of the cargo space that way. It also comes in various options for height and length, maxing out at 383 cubic feet. With the seats down, that turns into 400 cubic feet.
The Passenger is also available in a variety of configurations. It has seats for up to 15 people. The actual cargo space available will change, depending on how many seats you leave out. But expect to get as much as 461 cubic feet from the extended-length (XL) version of the high roof.
The Passenger XLT is essentially an upgrade on the Passenger - it has nicer chrome accents, better wheels, and other features.
Learn more about the different options for Transits here: How Much Weight Can A Ford Transit Carry?
Which Ford Transit Is Best For Van Life?
There isn't really a "right" answer between the Cargo, Crew, and Passenger Van styles; there isn't a "right" answer as to which one makes the best conversion. There are several options and possibilities for each model type. Start by considering all the scenarios you'll use your van in to decide exactly what you need.
You'll want to think about how many seats you need. If you're using this vehicle both as a house on wheels and a mode of transportation, two seats may not be enough. Sure, you may be living in it alone - but do you occasionally need extra seats to pick up a family member or offer a ride?
If you have another vehicle available for "day trips," sticking with the 2-seat cargo van might be an easy choice. For others, they might prefer the crew van, with five seats (removable when you don't need them).
Most people who convert opt for the extra-long extended body. It simply offers more room for all your stuff, with a length just under 22 feet and a 148-inch wheelbase.
Which Ford Transit Vans Can You Stand Up In?
The short answer for most people is going to be "the big one," though of course, it depends on how tall you are. While the Transit comes in several models, the height varies between picking the low, medium, or high roof. Even the lowest roof is pretty tall, at more than six and a half feet. Even the interior dimensions, of 4 and a half feet, would be manageable for some people shorter in stature.
How High Is The Ford Transit Medium Roof?
The medium roof has an exterior height of 107.8 inches - or just under 9 feet. On the inside, this turns into 6 feet. Now, you don't have to be the smallest of van-dwellers to stand up comfortably. Of course, you could always go a step up to the high roof.
What Is The Interior Height Of A Ford Transit High Roof Van?
If the 6 feet of the medium roof isn't quite roomy enough, have no fear. The high roof is a whopping 9 feet tall. To be precise, 9 foot 2 inches.
The inside measures 6 feet, 9 inches. Even Michael Jordan can fit in that - should he ever desire to live in a Ford Transit Van.
How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Transit Van Into A Camper?
It's hard to give a clear-cut amount, as there are just so many variables to consider. A hefty price difference occurs right upfront - do you buy a Transit, then pay for modifications? Or do you buy used, finding one already converted into a camper on a site like RVTrader.com?
At the time of this writing, 32 vans are currently offered for sale on RVtrader. The features and customization vary, as does the model year, but prices range from around $40,000 to a high cost of nearly $200,000.
If you decide to convert your own, some companies offer specific conversion kits. While these are typically a bit pricier, it also takes some of the guesswork out of it. Depending on how fancy you get, prices can range from simpler $40,000 options to more customized upgrades going for upwards of $100,000.
But if these prices blow your mind, don't give up yet! There's plenty of DIY ways to convert your van and save some money in the process. You don't have to spend your life savings on a tricked-out camper. There's plenty of anecdotal stories of people doing the work themselves, for anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to $20,000.
Is It Legal To Convert A Van Into A Camper?
While converting a van into a camper isn't, in itself, illegal, there are some gray areas.
Firstly, many states have specific laws against sleeping in your vehicle overnight. As many as 20 states have a specific policy for when it is - and isn't - okay to sleep in your vehicle. You'll want to research the laws of wherever you plan to travel to make sure you don't end up in any legal trouble.
As a general rule, truck stops, rest stops, and public lands such as national forests tend to accept overnight van stays. Small businesses, major roads, and city-owned parks are examples of places where overnight stays are typically discouraged or even illegal.
It's also important to check with your state's department of motor vehicles. Depending on the state, or even country, that you live in, you may need to follow specific standards when converting your van. For example, in the State of Illinois, you can be required to provide potable water, a 110v power supply, and a disposable septic system, among other things.
The department will also let you know how to re-register your vehicle correctly. In many cases, it must be recorded as an RV or another new classification.
Ford Transits are growing in popularity as an option for those seeking a van or camper lifestyle. Because of the high roof available in all models, even tall people can stand up comfortably. The highest roof still measures 6 feet 9 in the interior - big enough for almost anyone.
You can purchase an already converted Transit at a used RV website or convert your own. Paying a company to convert your van for you can cost anywhere from $40,000 to more than $100,000. DIY options can range from a few thousand to around $20,000.