Author Topic: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?  (Read 1592 times)

shelbster

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How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« on: May 24, 2021, 12:30:49 AM »
Hello all,

I'm looking for advice on a (potential) purchase of a first car!

The short version: I might want a car to get myself to trailheads for various outdoor adventures. I have the money to buy a car if I want to but I'm very frugal and am 100% going to analyze the shit out of this decision. I have an option that seems like it would suit my needs, but the gas mileage is crap and I'm not sure how to go about deciding if it's "good enough."

Some general context:
  • I'm turning 28 this summer and have done a good job so far with a Mustachian way of life.
    Over $200k to my name as of right now and a job that pays about $100k a year. FIRE goal involves working part-time starting in the next 5 years or so to have extra time for... lots of things, including outdoor adventures.
  • I have never had a car and am pretty proud of it.
    I live in the city limits of Seattle so biking/busing gets me almost everywhere I need to go and has saved me TONS of money over the years. It's been great.
  • I've been an enthusiastic hiker since college and in the last year have gotten very into all sorts of outdoor activities -- camping, backpacking, mountaineering, climbing, etc.
    This involves a lot of driving to trailheads and I've mostly relied on a partner's car. Unfortunately, he's moving away in a few months, but I don't want my outdoor adventures to end.
  • In my more-intense outdoor doings in recent months, I've seen a number of get-ups I am very inspired by where people take a larger vehicle (SUV, van, truck, etc.) and convert it into a rig for car camping with a mattress in the back, storage for a campstove, etc.
    It's really awesome in terms of the price/mobility/comfort ratio. I'm pretty taken with the idea of setting that up for myself but I'm unsure of timing and the specifics of what I want/need.

Some secondary pieces of context:
  • If I owned a car, my plan would be to drive it primarily to trailheads and to continue biking in the city.
    For reasons that I imagine are pretty easy to guess for anybody who frequents this forum. As a back-of-the envelope calculation, I could see myself driving as much as 600 miles/month in the summer months (basically two long weekend trips per month) and maybe as little as 100-200 miles/month in the winter.
  • I have friends whose cars I can borrow from time to time, but it's not ideal.
    They are all primarily sedans with decent gas mileage, but there are plenty of trails in the Pacific Northwest where one is definitely more comfortable having a high-clearance vehicle. Also, I don't want to have to rely on friends having cars available to go on weekend trips after my partner leaves.
  • A side benefit of owning a vehicle generally is that it would make it easier to see my parents.
    They live about 30 miles outside of town, public transportation out there is a nightmare (I love public transportation but ~2.5 hours one way is NOT worth it), and that logistical problem has been the main inconvenience of not having my own car in the past.
  • I am planning to take leave from work and do some extended travel starting in September -- starting with hiking the Camino de Santiago in Europe, continuing to backpacking in Europe and beyond, no car needed.
    As such, I don't urgently need a vehicle by any means, but if I did buy the one mentioned below, I would have an easy place to store it with my family over the winter, and I would also have the (delightful) option of coming back and immediately embarking on a road trip in North America.

Now onto some specifics... my brother has a friend who is looking to sell a car with the following specs:
  • 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Regency van (v6 engine)
  • 140,000 miles on it
  • Asking $3500-$4000
  • Expected gas mileage (from Fuelly) is about 12 mpg (gasp)
  • I don't know much about cars but my brother does, so let's assume that I'll have him look at it and conclude the van is in good shape.

As I see it, there are two decisions to make here: 1) do I want a car? 2) do I want this car? If not, why not and what am I looking for instead?

I think the answer to #1 is yes, at least eventually. I really want to be able to continue my outdoor adventures and not have to beg friends for cars (see above).

Regarding this car, the obvious advantage to it is that $3,500 seems like a very reasonable price for this car. A quick search revealed similar vehicles to be in the $7k-$10k range, although some of those options had considerably fewer miles.

The obvious disadvantage is the gas mileage (I think I had a small aneurysm when I saw that number). 12mpg is NOT very Mustachian, but the difficulty here is that while I would LOVE the gas mileage that comes with a tiny Mustachian sedan, that's not the car that meets my needs here. If I buy a car, it's going to be a high clearance vehicle with room to sleep in the back -- an adventure-mobile!

There is such a thing as a hybrid SUV, but the base cost for those is far, far above the $3,500 I would be looking at here, so it's sort of moot for the next 10 years or so until some good used ones will come available (I imagine -- again, not a car person).

The other potential disadvantage is the miles on it already. 140k is quite a lot, no? Still, it seems like for $3,500, it wouldn't have to last all that long to be worth what I put into it (again, assuming this isn't something that's going to fall apart a month after I start driving it because it has major engine issues or structural problems or something).

I'm leaning towards just spending the $3,500 and getting the car because it would be pretty perfect for what I want, but the gas mileage gives me pause and I want to make sure I don't take the first thing that comes along because it seems like a good choice only because I haven't done my research.

Thoughts? Is there anything I'm missing? What would you consider if you were making this decision?

Many thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: May 24, 2021, 12:48:04 AM by shelbster »

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2021, 01:16:07 AM »
For the number of miles you'll be putting on it, the gas mileage isn't going to be a huge contributor from an environmental impact. Even if you were discounting the cost, a hybrid SUV would be worse because you'd be contributing to the mining of the battery metals without reaping the benefit of miles and miles of battery driving.

What options would you have for renting a vehicle for your two weekend trips a month in the summer? How likely is the road trip? If the road trip is pretty certain and will be relatively low mileage per day, it sounds like this could be a great choice but if the road trip is point to point basically driving all day then it might be worth considering something more efficient.

Do you have any sense if this deal is so good that it is worth snapping up even though you are shortly going away all winter? How well do you know brother's friend? If you are confident that the vehicle and deal are good and that the friend is doing you/brother a favour then it sounds great. However if it's being sold because it's failing then it might be worth buying something when you get back from your amazing trip.

I'd caution against kitting it out and then leaving a mattress and textiles in it all winter: temperature changes and the possibility of a tiny leak could trash your set up.

Jorey

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2021, 04:43:51 AM »
As a person with an adventure car for most of the reasons you do in NYC(gasp), I recommend being very honest with yourself about how often you will use it.

My 2c is that having a car in the big city is a PITA, but still totally worth it to be able to get to trailheads, do long road trips, visit family, etc. I also have the added bonus that owning a car opens up some work options to me that would be otherwise unavailable. Something worth factoring into your decision would be the cost of carshare vs owning a car. If you are really honest with yourself about how often you'll use it, is just doing a carshare sufficient? IIRC most of the trailheads in the PNW are accessible by 2WD low clearance. Also, when we say owning a car, we mean all of the costs. Insurance, maintenance, time spent finding parking, money spent on a stolen catalytic converter because you live in the Big City, etc.

My 2c

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nereo

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2021, 05:04:01 AM »
Ditto that, with your anticipated mileage the MPG shouldn’t be a primary concern. For low-mileage drivers, you can spend far more on registration, taxes, insurance, parking permits and maintenance/repairs than on fuel. So I’d give careful consideration to how much that will cost, and whether its worth it vs a car-share service.  When I last lived in a city 4 years ago it was far cheaper for us to simply rent a car a few times per month than own one (though we wound up finding a car-share that was even better). Can you do basic maintenance? Do you have a place to park?

Also - while there are tons of YouTube vids of posters who have convertered old pickups and vans into amazing trail-head bunk vehicles, that’s not the only route.  I had a friend that built a simple platform in a Toyota Camry and it work well enough for him and his dog (he pulled the passenger seat out and it was 6’6”). Even easier is bringing a tent and sleeping pad. Even the smallest of cars can haul two people and a weekend’s worth of stuff, especially if you add a roof rack or hitch rack.

Point being, don’t limit yourself to “rugged” SUV or pickups. Any car can get to almost every trailhead in the US.

Malcat

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2021, 05:32:52 AM »
Is renting a car or joining a car share when needed not an option??

Also, do you have parking at your home? How much will insurance cost? Plus there's maintenance, which can be very expensive on an old, high mileage vehicle.

If you are just using it got trips and never for commuting, then you won't actually put much mileage on it, so high mileage isn't that big a deal, nor is gas mileage.

Paper Chaser

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2021, 06:37:10 AM »
A van that gets 12mpg while empty probably struggles to get 10mpg when a bunch of camping or "overlanding" stuff gets thrown on and increases the weight while killing aerodynamics. Again, for your use case that might not be a deal breaker, but I'll echo the others proposing that you ask yourself how much size/space/capability you actually need, and is that achievable through other means than owning?

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2021, 07:05:25 AM »
There are some clever platforms that are designed to go behind the back row of seats and then unfold into a platform bed when the rear seats are folded forward. Although they are often designed for a specific car, I bet there are options or modifications that would make them suitable for a range of similar sized cars that you could hire. Then you'd have an adventure-mobile trunk to put into whatever vehicle was available that weekend. This all assumes that you have somewhere to store it and load it up - it could be that a car is the only suitable place you have to store the trunk!

shelbster

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2021, 12:40:48 PM »
Thanks, all!

I appreciate the feedback that mileage isn't a primary concern. Especially considering that even doing a road trip with a cheapie gas guzzler would probably be less expensive than other ways I like to spend my free time and money (notably international travel).

Re: associated costs, I suppose I didn't do a good job explaining that I was already thinking of licensing and insurance... good reminders, though. Worth pulling together a fuller cost-benefit analysis to look at that in more detail.

Parking shouldn't be a problem -- street parking is an option where I live in Seattle. I think if I had to pay for parking, it would be a non-starter. <snark> I could just burn my money instead, and that would at least have some consumption utility. </snark>

My gut instinct is that if I do buy a vehicle with the goal of using it as an adventure-mobile, I'll want a high clearance one. Most trails are available with low clearance vehicles, but my partner and I have both experienced a number of forest service roads and the like with low clearance and high clearance vehicles and one is way more pleasant than the other. (Not that you need 4WD. That seems to be overkill.) Plus, it sort of defeats the purpose of having 100% ownership of my own vehicle, but then be limited in my ability to have those adventures if there's snow or a rough road to the trailhead or whatever.

That said, I will definitely look into a carshare. I don't love the idea of renting cars -- it just racks up money so quickly, and you lose out on the ability to get up and go. Plus the transaction costs of having to pick a car to rent, go to pick it up, etc. There's an argument to be made for paying a little more to own your own car and get the convenience of it. Time also matters.

A carshare might be a good compromise between all of those things! And it has the added bonus of being less of a temptation to drive all over creation just because I can, rather than sucking it up and biking like I currently do (and like doing, despite certain inconveniences).

Will look into this more!

Here's a follow-up question: assuming that the van in question is in good shape, how much of a good deal does this sound like?
If it'll be hard to find another one for that cheap, then I'm a little more inclined to rush this decision-making process. If I have a good chance of finding a similar deal after I get back from my big trip, then it would probably behoove me to hold off for now, see how things shape up when I get back (living situations, how I spend my weekends, whether my other partner is correct when he says that his Outback is too short to sleep in, etc.), and go from there.

The little research I've done so far does show similar cars to be in the $7-10k range rather that $3.5-4k, and my brother says this is a good deal. But I'm not much of a car person, as mentioned, and my brother is not a Mustachian, so I don't have a good sense of direction here (pun intended?).

norajean

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2021, 01:04:43 PM »
Unless your adventure-mobiles to date have been slow-slung sports cars, I doubt the van you are considering has a lot more clearance.  They actually are average clearance.  Their width, length, height and weight are not ideal for trail roads.  If you want to get up bad roads in the wilderness, I would consider a Subaru Outback (of the same vintage).  They have AWD, clearance, space for gear and are fuel-efficient.  Plus, Seattle is full of them. 

This is a terrible time to buy a new or used car, so I would wait until next year.

Botany Bae

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2021, 01:10:01 PM »
I'm not recommending a Prius, but I'd look at something other than a van for trail head use and road tripping. I live in your general region and my adventure car is a 2010 Prius. It gets me to most trailheads, but clearance is an issue on some of the FS and logging roads. When we update in the next 5-10 years, we'll go with a Suburu or similar for the extra clearance and AWD. We have the back set up to turn into a 2-person sleeper for trailhead or car camping. Deploy air mattress, put up window coverings, and install screens. We have boxes that slide in the back seat foot wells for storage. There is a whole subreddit or Prius Dwelling that can show you how to trick out a small car for camping. Bonus of going smaller is it's easier to park at busy trailheads, less fuel costs, and they are pretty cheap to insure.

Samuel

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2021, 03:02:27 PM »
Parking shouldn't be a problem -- street parking is an option where I live in Seattle. I think if I had to pay for parking, it would be a non-starter. <snark> I could just burn my money instead, and that would at least have some consumption utility. </snark>

Keep in mind you can be ticketed and then eventually towed if you're not moving it every 72 hours while parked on the street. That would get annoying if you plan to only use the van once or twice a month.


I definitely see the allure of this potential deal, though. Assuming the van is mechanically sound this does sound like a good friends & family deal that is a couple grand below market.

Would the seller be pissed off if they discovered you bought it, used it for the summer, and then flipped it before your trip? If not that might be tempting...


Also, I would want some basic level of mechanical knowledge and basic tools if I were to be driving this kind of vehicle miles into the wilderness.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2021, 03:06:12 PM by Samuel »

shelbster

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2021, 03:42:59 PM »
Keep in mind you can be ticketed and then eventually towed if you're not moving it every 72 hours while parked on the street. That would get annoying if you plan to only use the van once or twice a month.


I definitely see the allure of this potential deal, though. Assuming the van is mechanically sound this does sound like a good friends & family deal that is a couple grand below market.

Would the seller be pissed off if they discovered you bought it, used it for the summer, and then flipped it before your trip? If not that might be tempting...


Also, I would want some basic level of mechanical knowledge and basic tools if I were to be driving this kind of vehicle miles into the wilderness.


All fair points. The seller wouldn't care, since he's my brother's neighbor and we live several hours apart.
I'm liking the idea of flipping it, actually... Again assuming that it's in good shape, it occurs to me that $3,500 is not a ton (given my savings) and the rest of the expenses are quite variable.

Specifically, my monthly expenses would look like this:
  • Car payment: $0, except for the opportunity cost of my investments, of course
  • Gas: ~$200/month, assuming I'm driving all over for summer adventures
  • Insurance: about $30/month, assuming ~600 miles/month, with MetroMile; possibly less with USAA but I haven't looked into it
  • Registration: $145/year <=> $12/month
  • Maintenance: unknown, but again limited by not driving it too much and learning how to do easy repairs myself

Am I missing anything?

If that's the extent of it, then my real cost of having a car is... not actually as much as I thought. $3,500 + $12/month is not quite chump change but it's only a few steps away from it.

I looked into car sharing and I'm not sold on the cost. At something like $83/day for Zipcar in Seattle, it wouldn't take long for it to be worth it to buy a car outright. See also the logsitcal inconvenience I mentioned above about renting cars.

Comparatively, I could have a car, move it occasionally, stop paying for insurance on months I don't drive (I assume is possible with MetroMile), have an adventuremobile whenever I want, learn car repair myself, see my parents easily, go on a road trip if I want, and even (potentially) save on rent for a few months when I come back and just live out of the car... And then sell it again if I find that it's more trouble than it's worth? That suddenly becomes a much more attractive scenario.

I'm still considering other options (like getting clear with my other partner about how much I could use his car for weekend trips, especially if I chipped in on his insurance and such) but so far, I'm pretty taken with this idea.

Still curious to hear other perspectives, though! I'm new to the car world and definitely starting from little context.

Jorey

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2021, 04:21:38 PM »

For what it's worth, I own a 2008 Honda Element in NYC. I budget $1k per year in maintenance. And often I spend it. Older cars get brakes and suspension work often, and then the more occasional items, exhaust, transmission, etc.  it adds up. I'm not as mustachian as most, so I'm not telling you not to do it because it sounds like you want it and have thought it through. But I would be careful about really reflecting on my reasoning of buying the car of my brothers friend, and not shopping around for the thing I actually want. Vans also harder to street park.

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sailinlight

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2021, 04:31:34 PM »
That van doesn't seem great for anything except making an RV out of. It would need a lift and larger tires to do anything useful offroad that any tiny econobox couldn't handle.

Just get an old hatchback with decent ground clearance like an Outback and see how you like owning it. Worst case scenario is that you decide it costs too much and you don't like having to worry about owning an asset that's left outside on the street all the time so you sell it. If you're making 100k/year the small amount of transaction costs isn't going to change your life at all.

Jorey

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2021, 04:39:07 PM »
That van doesn't seem great for anything except making an RV out of. It would need a lift and larger tires to do anything useful offroad that any tiny econobox couldn't handle.

Just get an old hatchback with decent ground clearance like an Outback and see how you like owning it. Worst case scenario is that you decide it costs too much and you don't like having to worry about owning an asset that's left outside on the street all the time so you sell it. If you're making 100k/year the small amount of transaction costs isn't going to change your life at all.
This

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Steeze

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2021, 04:56:06 PM »
I had a 1997 Subaru Outback with 200k+ miles on it when I bought it in 2012. Was perfect for camping, mountain biking, skiing, etc. was a standard transmission and got around 20mpg +\- highly recommend. They are high off the ground and drive great in snow and mud. That vintage is fully depreciated and will hold value at this point unless you damage it. Think I paid <$3000 for mine and bought it off Craigslist in Denver.

Ecky

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2021, 07:05:33 PM »
As someone who has cars as a hobby (I try to be mustachian about it), my immediate thoughts reading your post were along the lines of, "I hope your brother knows cars very well". It would be very easy for someone to notice the transmission starting to slip or shift rough, and to sell the vehicle while the signs were early and subtle. Dodge products are, by and large, at the lower end of the reliability spectrum, and a transmission replacement could end up being nearly the price of the vehicle. Granted, it might not need another one for another 100,000 miles. But, I would not buy a 25 year old vehicle unless you plan to either a) drive it until it leaves you stranded, and scrap it, or b) know a good mechanic. At that age, so many things are generally old and tired. All of the bushings, rubber hoses, fuel and brake lines, etc. etc.

It might well be a great buy. But, scrutinize it very hard before committing. Often the purchase price of a vehicle is the smallest cost of ownership, even in the short term.

Malcat

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2021, 07:38:32 PM »
As someone who has cars as a hobby (I try to be mustachian about it), my immediate thoughts reading your post were along the lines of, "I hope your brother knows cars very well". It would be very easy for someone to notice the transmission starting to slip or shift rough, and to sell the vehicle while the signs were early and subtle. Dodge products are, by and large, at the lower end of the reliability spectrum, and a transmission replacement could end up being nearly the price of the vehicle. Granted, it might not need another one for another 100,000 miles. But, I would not buy a 25 year old vehicle unless you plan to either a) drive it until it leaves you stranded, and scrap it, or b) know a good mechanic. At that age, so many things are generally old and tired. All of the bushings, rubber hoses, fuel and brake lines, etc. etc.

It might well be a great buy. But, scrutinize it very hard before committing. Often the purchase price of a vehicle is the smallest cost of ownership, even in the short term.

This.

I have the dubious honour of having every car I've ever owned.be a lemon, and that's including my low mileage 2012 Toyota Corolla.

Sensible, not all that old, not very high mileage cars have cost me a fortune over the years. Cars can be fucking assholes sometimes.

shelbster

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2021, 12:57:50 AM »
Sensible, not all that old, not very high mileage cars have cost me a fortune over the years. Cars can be fucking assholes sometimes.

Lol. That’s why I haven’t bought one yet!

As someone who has cars as a hobby (I try to be mustachian about it), my immediate thoughts reading your post were along the lines of, "I hope your brother knows cars very well".

As it happens, he does... but he’s not exactly a die-hard Mustachian either, so perspective is appreciated!

I had a 1997 Subaru Outback with 200k+ miles on it when I bought it in 2012. Was perfect for camping, mountain biking, skiing, etc. was a standard transmission and got around 20mpg +\- highly recommend. They are high off the ground and drive great in snow and mud. That vintage is fully depreciated and will hold value at this point unless you damage it. Think I paid <$3000 for mine and bought it off Craigslist in Denver.

This seems very reasonable. I actually did look around on Craigslist (and pushed back a little against my partner with a high-clearance vehicle about exactly how necessary it is) and that’s the option I’m leaning towards. I found smaller cars with better gas mileage for less money (albeit often more mileage).

So maybe I end up with a van, maybe something like an Outback, maybe even a used Prius or similar with low clearance but GREAT gas mileage and interior space for the size... any way you cut it, the van seems like a good deal but not a GREAT one and therefore I don’t feel pressured to Get It Right Now lest the deal be missed forever.



Many thanks to everybody who has commented! This has definitely help me get my thoughts in order for now, and make me consider a variety of options for later!

six-car-habit

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2021, 02:18:32 AM »
 How about you plan a visit to your parents soon , maybe they come get you and drive you back to their house for the weekend.  Make the visit about seeing them but also seeing vehicles you have on your short list. Enlist Dad into the equation, he'd probably be enthused to help.

   Set a few appointments on that weekend in their area-  to go see perhaps an Outback, Forrester, Highlander,  Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape , Mazda CX5, Xterra, Jeep Liberty, probably a small 4x4 pickup truck with a "bed-cap" like a Ranger or Frontier, mazda B3000, etc.   --  Drive a few , have the owners let you take it on some dirt trail in their town to show the AWD / 4x4 capabilities.  All these rigs should get in the low to high 20's mpg.

   Since the main reasoning for the vehicle is to get you to cool camping spots, nature and scenery, i'd pay the bit extra or tolerate more miles on the rig to get something AWD/4x4 that will get you in and out of tricky terrain with a 90% chance of not getting stuck.   Versus a 2wheel drive sedan with a 70% chance of not getting in a rut, or "high centered".

  When you've sussed out which brand/ model of vehicle you want, similar cars to all the suggestions made in this thread should be readily available thru the private owner market. Forgo the dealer experience and find a well kept vehicle with a paper trail of maintenance, perhaps from an older couple who are downsizing, where they are the original or 2nd owners ?  Watch craigslist/FBM for a while, you'll see them come up for sale.   

  If Dad/Mom likes your choice, all the easier to leave the rig with them when you go out of country.
  Figure about 12% of the purchase price for taxes,title transfer, and registration, ie a $3500 car will cost maybe an additional $400 once you've left the licensing agent.
     
   
 

sonofsven

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2021, 08:09:13 AM »
The "go to" vehicle for your purposes has been the Subaru type of awd wagon. I've never owned one so I won't comment there.
I have, however, owned lots of vans and trucks. And I used to do a lot of "adventuring", but not much anymore except fishing.
The benefit of a van is the ability to haul lots of stuff, and sleep in relative comfort and anonymity (river optional). You can also do this in a pickup with a topper but you have to exit the back to get to the drivers seat by going outside, and sometimes you might not want to do that.
The downsides to a van is the overall driving experience of driving a lumbering van, and your friends and fam might soon rely on you for all their moving needs, and the inevitable repair bills.
Another good option would be a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier (especially the Nissan, it is way under valued compared to the Tacoma, or rather the Tacoma is way over valued) or Ford Ranger
Two wheel drive (less popular option so less money), extra cab (nice to have a little storage behind the seats), four cylinder (less popular, better mpg), manual trans (last forever) and a topper (or canopy, or shell to keep your stuff dry and somewhat less visible).
4wd is nice for slippery conditions so if you'll be traveling in snowy conditions it might be worth the upgrade. I rarely use 4wd on my main rig but it's nice when you need it. I think having 4wd sometimes pushes people to drive places they maybe shouldn't.
Go drive the van and see if you like it. Drive each type of vehicle you're interested in.


therethere

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2021, 08:50:53 AM »
I have an Outback, basically for this exact thing. But I'm actually surprised it's getting so many nods. My Subaru has had so many random things break on it and it's at 150k. There is absolutely no way, without a knowledge of cars or a friend that's a mechanic that I would recommend buying a used Subaru with such high miles. Maybe the pre-2005 are better? I bought my car with 80000 miles, for 8k. And I've put well over 8kof repairs in it, with a friend doing most of the labor for free and buying parts half off..... And, now I'm basically at the point where I may have to start replacing things I've already repaired once. At this rate, I likely would have been better off buying a new car, and having less maintenance over the years. But I enjoy not having to worry about dents, scratches, high insurance, etc. So it's definitely not mustachian if that's what you're looking for. I think of it as my fun/hobby car and that's how I justify the extra expenses. I'm actually at the point where I was planning to buy a used car (likely not a Subaru due to the maintenance) to replace it because it needs so many repairs, but used car prices are so high that I'm trying to get it through one more summer.

I will say, its a beast in it's own right. And has been perfect for our needs. It's our 2nd car, with 95% of the miles as camping miles, mostly boondocking on USFS roads. It's kept up 20mpg towing a 1500# trailer and a big roof box. Vans seem cool, but then I think of the logistics and am not sold on them. We rarely camp in the same place we hike, so in the AM you'd have to pickup all your stuff and drive to the trailhead. Want to head into town? Pack down all your stuff and leave some stuff at your campsite to save your spot.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 08:55:18 AM by therethere »

shelbster

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2021, 12:44:07 PM »
  When you've sussed out which brand/ model of vehicle you want, similar cars to all the suggestions made in this thread should be readily available thru the private owner market. Forgo the dealer experience and find a well kept vehicle with a paper trail of maintenance, perhaps from an older couple who are downsizing, where they are the original or 2nd owners ?  Watch craigslist/FBM for a while, you'll see them come up for sale.   

  If Dad/Mom likes your choice, all the easier to leave the rig with them when you go out of country.
  Figure about 12% of the purchase price for taxes,title transfer, and registration, ie a $3500 car will cost maybe an additional $400 once you've left the licensing agent.

This is the direction I was going, but I've never seen that advice written out so plainly. Thanks!

The downsides to a van is the overall driving experience of driving a lumbering van, and your friends and fam might soon rely on you for all their moving needs, and the inevitable repair bills.
Another good option would be a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier (especially the Nissan, it is way under valued compared to the Tacoma, or rather the Tacoma is way over valued) or Ford Ranger
Two wheel drive (less popular option so less money), extra cab (nice to have a little storage behind the seats), four cylinder (less popular, better mpg), manual trans (last forever) and a topper (or canopy, or shell to keep your stuff dry and somewhat less visible).
4wd is nice for slippery conditions so if you'll be traveling in snowy conditions it might be worth the upgrade. I rarely use 4wd on my main rig but it's nice when you need it. I think having 4wd sometimes pushes people to drive places they maybe shouldn't.
Go drive the van and see if you like it. Drive each type of vehicle you're interested in.

Also very concise advice. The bit I bolded in particular makes sense to me but again, not being a car person, I couldn't have put my finger on all of those points. I appreciate the context!

Glenstache

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2021, 01:02:14 PM »
Also in the Seattle area and have been to many trailheads in the area. A lot of the trick is knowing how to drive the roads. I've gotten corollas to some pretty sketchy trailheads. An old van will also be slow to drive (safely) to a rough road trailhead. Unless you really need a lot of space for cargo, a van or truck really isn't necessary. Unless you are tall, you can sleep in the back of most hatchbacks just fine. My Tacoma was light in the back and my current subaru crosstrek is generally nicer to drive to most WA trailheads. My neighbors used their crosstrek as a couple as an adventure mobile including a mini fridge for years and slept in the back at many trailheads. Older Rav4s are similar and can be found for pretty cheap and are very reliable. A hatchback can also easily add a bolt on hitch for a bike rack, or add cargo if needed for a longer excursion.

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2021, 01:31:52 PM »
The '96 van is a worn-out antique. You'll spend more time fixing it than adventuring. This will be the case for most $3500 SUVs, especially at today's used car prices.

Your annual total cost of ownership for a vehicle driven maybe 20-30 times per year is unlikely to be less than $2,500 when you factor in maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes and tags, depreciation, etc.

Instead of doing that, consider just renting a vehicle when needed. I looked at Enterprise in Seattle. Looks like a "midsize SUV" goes for $122/day. If you are only going to visit the parents, a midsize car goes for $97/day. If your work or nonprofit organization offers a discount code, that can get a lot cheaper. How many trips would you have to take in an owned vehicle before you break even on the cost of a rental? Be sure to factor in the time/hassle of taking care of an owned vehicle.

If you are looking at more than, let's say, 25 trips a year, I would consider finding a wrecked vehicle. Yes, a wreck. For example, a friends' parent hit a deer one night in their late model SUV. The deer bent up the hood and fender, cracked the plastic grill, broke off the mirror, put dents in both driver-side doors, and caused the airbag to go off. The vehicle was totaled because the cost to repair all of that to like-new condition exceeded a certain percentage of the car's value. If you could find such a vehicle at a salvage auction, you might be able to purchase it for a couple thousand, fix only the things necessary to drive (glass, mirrors, headlight, alignment) and leave the rest of the damage as-is (i.e. cut out the airbag, you're only driving occasionally). Then you have something that starts every time and can drive through thick brush without you caring about scratches.

therethere

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2021, 01:47:45 PM »
The '96 van is a worn-out antique. You'll spend more time fixing it than adventuring. This will be the case for most $3500 SUVs, especially at today's used car prices.

Your annual total cost of ownership for a vehicle driven maybe 20-30 times per year is unlikely to be less than $2,500 when you factor in maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes and tags, depreciation, etc.

Instead of doing that, consider just renting a vehicle when needed. I looked at Enterprise in Seattle. Looks like a "midsize SUV" goes for $122/day. If you are only going to visit the parents, a midsize car goes for $97/day. If your work or nonprofit organization offers a discount code, that can get a lot cheaper. How many trips would you have to take in an owned vehicle before you break even on the cost of a rental? Be sure to factor in the time/hassle of taking care of an owned vehicle.

If you are looking at more than, let's say, 25 trips a year, I would consider finding a wrecked vehicle. Yes, a wreck. For example, a friends' parent hit a deer one night in their late model SUV. The deer bent up the hood and fender, cracked the plastic grill, broke off the mirror, put dents in both driver-side doors, and caused the airbag to go off. The vehicle was totaled because the cost to repair all of that to like-new condition exceeded a certain percentage of the car's value. If you could find such a vehicle at a salvage auction, you might be able to purchase it for a couple thousand, fix only the things necessary to drive (glass, mirrors, headlight, alignment) and leave the rest of the damage as-is (i.e. cut out the airbag, you're only driving occasionally). Then you have something that starts every time and can drive through thick brush without you caring about scratches.

You're really advocating to knowingly drive around with no airbags and a vehicle with potential frame damage to save cash? Wow. Safety is one thing not to play around. All you need is one person checking a text behind you and you're toast.

JLee

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2021, 01:54:11 PM »
The '96 van is a worn-out antique. You'll spend more time fixing it than adventuring. This will be the case for most $3500 SUVs, especially at today's used car prices.

Your annual total cost of ownership for a vehicle driven maybe 20-30 times per year is unlikely to be less than $2,500 when you factor in maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes and tags, depreciation, etc.

Instead of doing that, consider just renting a vehicle when needed. I looked at Enterprise in Seattle. Looks like a "midsize SUV" goes for $122/day. If you are only going to visit the parents, a midsize car goes for $97/day. If your work or nonprofit organization offers a discount code, that can get a lot cheaper. How many trips would you have to take in an owned vehicle before you break even on the cost of a rental? Be sure to factor in the time/hassle of taking care of an owned vehicle.

If you are looking at more than, let's say, 25 trips a year, I would consider finding a wrecked vehicle. Yes, a wreck. For example, a friends' parent hit a deer one night in their late model SUV. The deer bent up the hood and fender, cracked the plastic grill, broke off the mirror, put dents in both driver-side doors, and caused the airbag to go off. The vehicle was totaled because the cost to repair all of that to like-new condition exceeded a certain percentage of the car's value. If you could find such a vehicle at a salvage auction, you might be able to purchase it for a couple thousand, fix only the things necessary to drive (glass, mirrors, headlight, alignment) and leave the rest of the damage as-is (i.e. cut out the airbag, you're only driving occasionally). Then you have something that starts every time and can drive through thick brush without you caring about scratches.

I am not aware of any state that will let you register a salvage vehicle without having the title converted to rebuilt, which generally involves an inspection to insure that things like airbags have been properly repaired.

As the OP appears to be in Washington: https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/salvaged.html

ChpBstrd

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2021, 02:47:35 PM »
The '96 van is a worn-out antique. You'll spend more time fixing it than adventuring. This will be the case for most $3500 SUVs, especially at today's used car prices.

Your annual total cost of ownership for a vehicle driven maybe 20-30 times per year is unlikely to be less than $2,500 when you factor in maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes and tags, depreciation, etc.

Instead of doing that, consider just renting a vehicle when needed. I looked at Enterprise in Seattle. Looks like a "midsize SUV" goes for $122/day. If you are only going to visit the parents, a midsize car goes for $97/day. If your work or nonprofit organization offers a discount code, that can get a lot cheaper. How many trips would you have to take in an owned vehicle before you break even on the cost of a rental? Be sure to factor in the time/hassle of taking care of an owned vehicle.

If you are looking at more than, let's say, 25 trips a year, I would consider finding a wrecked vehicle. Yes, a wreck. For example, a friends' parent hit a deer one night in their late model SUV. The deer bent up the hood and fender, cracked the plastic grill, broke off the mirror, put dents in both driver-side doors, and caused the airbag to go off. The vehicle was totaled because the cost to repair all of that to like-new condition exceeded a certain percentage of the car's value. If you could find such a vehicle at a salvage auction, you might be able to purchase it for a couple thousand, fix only the things necessary to drive (glass, mirrors, headlight, alignment) and leave the rest of the damage as-is (i.e. cut out the airbag, you're only driving occasionally). Then you have something that starts every time and can drive through thick brush without you caring about scratches.

I am not aware of any state that will let you register a salvage vehicle without having the title converted to rebuilt, which generally involves an inspection to insure that things like airbags have been properly repaired.

As the OP appears to be in Washington: https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/salvaged.html

Yes, that might be an issue with the airbags in WA. In other states, there are no inspections; you just get a salvage title and the car is worth 20% less even after everything is fixed. However I doubt body damage is an inspection issue if all the lights work, glass is intact, it has mirrors, etc. and is generally road worthy. Otherwise every dented or rusted car would have to be fixed, and they're obviously not.

You're really advocating to knowingly drive around with no airbags and a vehicle with potential frame damage to save cash? Wow. Safety is one thing not to play around. All you need is one person checking a text behind you and you're toast.

Yes on the airbags. Airbags mostly save the lives of people not wearing their seat belts, and I think OP's odds of getting into a crash in a vehicle only used for adventures (what? 25-35 times per year) are so low this is not a thing to stress about. Definitely not a reason to get a 1996 model and hope its safety features still work. If OP can manage to buckle up a few dozen times a year, they will eliminate the vast majority of whatever net risk the airbag could have removed. Now if OP was commuting every day in freeway rush hour traffic, my answer would be different and I'd say "yea, when looking for a damaged car, make sure the bags didn't go off". That might be the easiest advice anyway.

Stalling in the middle of the freeway is the main safety hazard for car buyers in the $3500 range. OP needs something that's not going to put them in a risky situation like that. Getting something that's beat up is the solution.

Also, I would not recommend anything with frame damage or major damage that makes it un-driveable. I'm talking cosmetics. A car that has been scraped across two doors and a fender is just as reliable as it was before the accident, but it's worth $6000 less than before. Given the choice between cosmetics and reliability, I'll take the later. 

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2021, 03:57:48 PM »
The '96 van is a worn-out antique. You'll spend more time fixing it than adventuring. This will be the case for most $3500 SUVs, especially at today's used car prices.

Your annual total cost of ownership for a vehicle driven maybe 20-30 times per year is unlikely to be less than $2,500 when you factor in maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes and tags, depreciation, etc.

Instead of doing that, consider just renting a vehicle when needed. I looked at Enterprise in Seattle. Looks like a "midsize SUV" goes for $122/day. If you are only going to visit the parents, a midsize car goes for $97/day. If your work or nonprofit organization offers a discount code, that can get a lot cheaper. How many trips would you have to take in an owned vehicle before you break even on the cost of a rental? Be sure to factor in the time/hassle of taking care of an owned vehicle.

If you are looking at more than, let's say, 25 trips a year, I would consider finding a wrecked vehicle. Yes, a wreck. For example, a friends' parent hit a deer one night in their late model SUV. The deer bent up the hood and fender, cracked the plastic grill, broke off the mirror, put dents in both driver-side doors, and caused the airbag to go off. The vehicle was totaled because the cost to repair all of that to like-new condition exceeded a certain percentage of the car's value. If you could find such a vehicle at a salvage auction, you might be able to purchase it for a couple thousand, fix only the things necessary to drive (glass, mirrors, headlight, alignment) and leave the rest of the damage as-is (i.e. cut out the airbag, you're only driving occasionally). Then you have something that starts every time and can drive through thick brush without you caring about scratches.

I am not aware of any state that will let you register a salvage vehicle without having the title converted to rebuilt, which generally involves an inspection to insure that things like airbags have been properly repaired.

As the OP appears to be in Washington: https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/salvaged.html

Yes, that might be an issue with the airbags in WA. In other states, there are no inspections; you just get a salvage title and the car is worth 20% less even after everything is fixed. However I doubt body damage is an inspection issue if all the lights work, glass is intact, it has mirrors, etc. and is generally road worthy. Otherwise every dented or rusted car would have to be fixed, and they're obviously not.

You're really advocating to knowingly drive around with no airbags and a vehicle with potential frame damage to save cash? Wow. Safety is one thing not to play around. All you need is one person checking a text behind you and you're toast.

Yes on the airbags. Airbags mostly save the lives of people not wearing their seat belts, and I think OP's odds of getting into a crash in a vehicle only used for adventures (what? 25-35 times per year) are so low this is not a thing to stress about. Definitely not a reason to get a 1996 model and hope its safety features still work. If OP can manage to buckle up a few dozen times a year, they will eliminate the vast majority of whatever net risk the airbag could have removed. Now if OP was commuting every day in freeway rush hour traffic, my answer would be different and I'd say "yea, when looking for a damaged car, make sure the bags didn't go off". That might be the easiest advice anyway.

Stalling in the middle of the freeway is the main safety hazard for car buyers in the $3500 range. OP needs something that's not going to put them in a risky situation like that. Getting something that's beat up is the solution.

Also, I would not recommend anything with frame damage or major damage that makes it un-driveable. I'm talking cosmetics. A car that has been scraped across two doors and a fender is just as reliable as it was before the accident, but it's worth $6000 less than before. Given the choice between cosmetics and reliability, I'll take the later.

Source?

Repairing after collision damage resulting in a salvage title is different than a safety inspection for an existing car that's presumed roadworthy already. 

https://itstillruns.com/register-salvage-title-vehicle-5009661.html

Quote
Vehicles that have been designated as salvaged have been evaluated as a total loss by an insurance company due to the expense of repairs resulting from an accident, flood damage or theft. Once this designation has been assigned, the registration is canceled, and the vehicle cannot be driven on public roads. From this point, reregistering the vehicle requires repairing the damage and passing the state-authorized inspection. Vehicles that pass this inspection can then be reregistered as either rebuilt or revived salvage, depending on the terminology used by the state.

therethere

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2021, 04:06:00 PM »
The Element would be a perfect car, however, it depends where you'd be parking it and how often you're checking on it. They are prime targets for catalytic converter theft right now. My friend got his cat stolen, replaced, then stolen again within the course of 2 weeks. Supposedly you can steal a catalytic converter off an Element in <5 minutes without even having to raise the car. Lots of people selling Elements now after getting their cat stolen the first time.

fraylock

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2021, 10:30:23 PM »
Have you checked out renting on Turo?  It's like AirBnB for cars, where individuals can list their cars for rent.  In a city like Seattle, there are cars for rent all over, and many will deliver the car to you.  If you know you're going to an easy trailhead, you could get a cheap car for $20-30/day.  If you know you need 4WD, you can pay more for that.

If you know you want to own a car, I get that and by all means go for it.  Though from a purely practical perspective, if the car is only for adventuring, you may find that renting is cheaper and saves you time fixing things that break.  A $3500 van could be great for years, or it could become a $3500 paperweight tomorrow.  Either way, you can probably expect that you'll be spending some weekends fixing it or getting it fixed rather than adventuring.

Samuel

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2021, 09:30:26 AM »
Have you checked out renting on Turo?  It's like AirBnB for cars, where individuals can list their cars for rent.  In a city like Seattle, there are cars for rent all over, and many will deliver the car to you.  If you know you're going to an easy trailhead, you could get a cheap car for $20-30/day.  If you know you need 4WD, you can pay more for that.

After considering how I would feel if someone who rented my personal car took it bouncing down some crappy Forest Service roads I googled the Turo terms...

Prohibited vehicle uses and activities include:
Using a vehicle booked through Turo other than on paved roads (whether "off-roading," driving on unimproved roads or parking areas,” or otherwise).


https://support.turo.com/hc/en-us/articles/203990570-Prohibited-uses


Which I suppose is really only an issue if you get stuck, break the vehicle, or have high moral character...


shelbster

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #33 on: May 26, 2021, 05:19:17 PM »
Which I suppose is really only an issue if you get stuck, break the vehicle, or have high moral character...

Lol. I do like to think I have high moral character. :D



I did look at the option of renting and I didn't like it. At nearly $100/day (I think zipcar was $83 or so, and Turo was about the same) when I would be doing a lot of 2-3 day trips... no thank you. I'd rather pay a little more if necessary, have the car whenever I wanted, and not have to drive myself crazy with penny-ante thinking. Don't get me wrong, most of the time I love penny-ante thinking. I'm a Mustachian, after all! But this is a place where I would look at the cost of car rentals and decide not to rent cars to do what I wanted to do... bringing me back to square one.

For anybody interested, the official conclusion I have come to here is: I'm not going to buy this van. But when I come back from traveling, I will very likely get a smaller car with hopefully decent clearance (Outback-style) and turn that one into my adventure-mobile.
TBD exactly what that will be, but it'll be cheap and have at least decent gas mileage. And airbags, I assume. :)

norajean

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2021, 09:00:26 PM »
Pre-pandemic I normally rented SUVs or full size cars from Budget for $30/d inclusive. These ranged from four door Jeeps to Camaro convertibles to Lincoln M- something or other.

nereo

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2021, 07:51:44 AM »
Which I suppose is really only an issue if you get stuck, break the vehicle, or have high moral character...

Lol. I do like to think I have high moral character. :D



I did look at the option of renting and I didn't like it. At nearly $100/day (I think zipcar was $83 or so, and Turo was about the same) when I would be doing a lot of 2-3 day trips... no thank you. I'd rather pay a little more if necessary, have the car whenever I wanted, and not have to drive myself crazy with penny-ante thinking. Don't get me wrong, most of the time I love penny-ante thinking. I'm a Mustachian, after all! But this is a place where I would look at the cost of car rentals and decide not to rent cars to do what I wanted to do... bringing me back to square one.

For anybody interested, the official conclusion I have come to here is: I'm not going to buy this van. But when I come back from traveling, I will very likely get a smaller car with hopefully decent clearance (Outback-style) and turn that one into my adventure-mobile.
TBD exactly what that will be, but it'll be cheap and have at least decent gas mileage. And airbags, I assume. :)

There is absolutely nothing normal about the current car-rental market. 
During the pandemic rental-car companies sold off the majority of their fleet to stay afloat. Then global chip shortages and production backlogs have squeeze the car market in ways we haven't seen since the great recession.  Now there's an explosion of demand for people who want to travel and who have skipped an entire year's worth of vacation (by one estimate over 4 years' worth of travel demand may come in the next 9 months).

It's a trifecta of big-market forces, but like all anomalies it will resolve itself in a year or three.

ericrugiero

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2021, 08:19:14 AM »
For anybody interested, the official conclusion I have come to here is: I'm not going to buy this van. But when I come back from traveling, I will very likely get a smaller car with hopefully decent clearance (Outback-style) and turn that one into my adventure-mobile.
TBD exactly what that will be, but it'll be cheap and have at least decent gas mileage. And airbags, I assume. :)

That sounds like a good plan.  Re-evaluate when you get back.  The rental market and the used car market could both be better by then.  Everything is crazy right now. 

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2021, 08:55:11 AM »
I personally am not a big fan of renting for adventures. I get the cost saving parts. Yeah it's probably cheaper for a lot of people. But part of the fun of having an adventure vehicle is the ability to do things on a whim. You'll save yourself a ton of time and mental stress having a system set up that works for you, and at least for me, that's worth some extra money.

I like to watch youtube nomads and one of my favorites is Keep Your Daydream. They travel much differently than you want to but they're totally entertaining. This summer they are renting rigs for weekend trips. They are typically the most upbeat family but every experience this summer has looked to me like they are so out of their routine they are really pretty miserable! Having a system set up that works for you that you don't have to think through too hard so you can go on autopilot and then enjoy your adventure is so important!

I don't live in a big city like you, but really the only reason I own a vehicle is to adventure and visit my mother who lives on the other side of town, so I can relate.  I started off with a Prius.  I traveled a fair amount in it and slept in the back. It's a cheap cheap way to travel but you won't be able to get to a lot of the trailheads in it. I eventually decided I needed more space more than anything so I decided to buy a vehicle to pull a trailer. I ended up with a 2011 Toyota 4Runner & a 16' Casita travel trailer. The ability of the 4Runner, by itself, to adventure in came as a surprise to me. The Casita is more of a burden and it keeps me from getting to the places I really want to go and I think I'll be selling it soon.  The Toyota 4Runner has taken me places few cars will go and those have always been my most memorable hikes/trips. It's been reliable, it is a nice size for sleeping in the back and still being able to sit up. It's a little small for my family of two and two dogs, but it's an amazing adventure vehicle. It's taken me out on the beach, way up in the mountains. It's great.

I've had a Subaru Outback too. I know several people here have mentioned them in this thread. Really I'd have to say that the 4Runner is 5x the adventure vehicle of the Subaru, at least in my experience. The reliability, extra room, and the ability to go way further down a bad road than any Subaru makes a lot of difference, at least to me.

Good luck on your adventures and keep us posted on whatever it is you decide to do!

Malcat

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2021, 09:08:12 AM »
I personally am not a big fan of renting for adventures. I get the cost saving parts. Yeah it's probably cheaper for a lot of people. But part of the fun of having an adventure vehicle is the ability to do things on a whim. You'll save yourself a ton of time and mental stress having a system set up that works for you, and at least for me, that's worth some extra money.

I like to watch youtube nomads and one of my favorites is Keep Your Daydream. They travel much differently than you want to but they're totally entertaining. This summer they are renting rigs for weekend trips. They are typically the most upbeat family but every experience this summer has looked to me like they are so out of their routine they are really pretty miserable! Having a system set up that works for you that you don't have to think through too hard so you can go on autopilot and then enjoy your adventure is so important!

I don't live in a big city like you, but really the only reason I own a vehicle is to adventure and visit my mother who lives on the other side of town, so I can relate.  I started off with a Prius.  I traveled a fair amount in it and slept in the back. It's a cheap cheap way to travel but you won't be able to get to a lot of the trailheads in it. I eventually decided I needed more space more than anything so I decided to buy a vehicle to pull a trailer. I ended up with a 2011 Toyota 4Runner & a 16' Casita travel trailer. The ability of the 4Runner, by itself, to adventure in came as a surprise to me. The Casita is more of a burden and it keeps me from getting to the places I really want to go and I think I'll be selling it soon.  The Toyota 4Runner has taken me places few cars will go and those have always been my most memorable hikes/trips. It's been reliable, it is a nice size for sleeping in the back and still being able to sit up. It's a little small for my family of two and two dogs, but it's an amazing adventure vehicle. It's taken me out on the beach, way up in the mountains. It's great.

I've had a Subaru Outback too. I know several people here have mentioned them in this thread. Really I'd have to say that the 4Runner is 5x the adventure vehicle of the Subaru, at least in my experience. The reliability, extra room, and the ability to go way further down a bad road than any Subaru makes a lot of difference, at least to me.

Good luck on your adventures and keep us posted on whatever it is you decide to do!

Where I live, it's easy to subscribe to car sharing services and only have them on weekends. Likewise, the rental companies have weekend only packages where you basically subscribe to a certain number of weekends, walk in, and take a car whenever you want to use one of those weekends. So it's really not at all inconvenient.

There's a care share station in my building, I could reserve and just walk downstairs and access a fully gassed up, well maintained car, ready to go. There are 6 of these stations within a few blocks of my house. The car rental place is a good 6 blocks from my house, but otherwise just as easy.

I can't imagine that they don't have similarly convenient services in Seattle.

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2021, 11:14:37 AM »
I personally am not a big fan of renting for adventures. I get the cost saving parts. Yeah it's probably cheaper for a lot of people. But part of the fun of having an adventure vehicle is the ability to do things on a whim. You'll save yourself a ton of time and mental stress having a system set up that works for you, and at least for me, that's worth some extra money.

I like to watch youtube nomads and one of my favorites is Keep Your Daydream. They travel much differently than you want to but they're totally entertaining. This summer they are renting rigs for weekend trips. They are typically the most upbeat family but every experience this summer has looked to me like they are so out of their routine they are really pretty miserable! Having a system set up that works for you that you don't have to think through too hard so you can go on autopilot and then enjoy your adventure is so important!

I don't live in a big city like you, but really the only reason I own a vehicle is to adventure and visit my mother who lives on the other side of town, so I can relate.  I started off with a Prius.  I traveled a fair amount in it and slept in the back. It's a cheap cheap way to travel but you won't be able to get to a lot of the trailheads in it. I eventually decided I needed more space more than anything so I decided to buy a vehicle to pull a trailer. I ended up with a 2011 Toyota 4Runner & a 16' Casita travel trailer. The ability of the 4Runner, by itself, to adventure in came as a surprise to me. The Casita is more of a burden and it keeps me from getting to the places I really want to go and I think I'll be selling it soon.  The Toyota 4Runner has taken me places few cars will go and those have always been my most memorable hikes/trips. It's been reliable, it is a nice size for sleeping in the back and still being able to sit up. It's a little small for my family of two and two dogs, but it's an amazing adventure vehicle. It's taken me out on the beach, way up in the mountains. It's great.

I've had a Subaru Outback too. I know several people here have mentioned them in this thread. Really I'd have to say that the 4Runner is 5x the adventure vehicle of the Subaru, at least in my experience. The reliability, extra room, and the ability to go way further down a bad road than any Subaru makes a lot of difference, at least to me.

Good luck on your adventures and keep us posted on whatever it is you decide to do!

As Malcat said - most car share services recognize that convenience is among their greatest assets and so they've gone to great lengths to make cars as convenient as possible. Often and on-net they can be more conveinient than car ownership (e.g. maintenance and cleaning are built-in, and drop-off/pickup sites are close and well thought out.)

But from a philosophical perspective I object to this culture of owning things we only occasionally use.  Even for people that commute daily, their cars are parked (unused) on average about 95% of the time.  If you are just a weekend driver, that jumps to >99%.  It's an enormous waste for something that expensive and large.  It's also why we have an absolutely insane amount of our planet dedicated to parked cars (more than we dedicate to sleeping humans or parks).

Our culture of owning, and our resistance to sharing, is quite literally one of the underlying challenges both with personal finance and with environmental issues.

therethere

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2021, 12:02:47 PM »
Our culture of owning, and our resistance to sharing, is quite literally one of the underlying challenges both with personal finance and with environmental issues.

I agree with you on this statement. But you also have to acknowledge that the US norms of liability and litigation, and high cost of cosmetic repairs, also drive up the desire to own rather than share. Trips on paved roads aren't really too big of a risk. But taking a rented car on a USFS road (which may not be within the TOS) may be opening you up to a couple hundred dollars in damages by a simple scratch from a tree branch. **disclaimer: I know nothing about turo/carshare insurance aspect to all of this I'm just hypothesizing.**

I don't even like to share my car with friends if they are driving far. For the slim possibility that they get in an accident and I'm ultimately held responsible as the car owner.


stoaX

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Re: How to buy an adventure-mobile as a Mustachian?
« Reply #41 on: May 28, 2021, 02:59:21 PM »
For anybody interested, the official conclusion I have come to here is: I'm not going to buy this van. But when I come back from traveling, I will very likely get a smaller car with hopefully decent clearance (Outback-style) and turn that one into my adventure-mobile.
TBD exactly what that will be, but it'll be cheap and have at least decent gas mileage. And airbags, I assume. :)

That sounds like a good plan.  Re-evaluate when you get back.  The rental market and the used car market could both be better by then.  Everything is crazy right now.

+1

Also it sounds like the vehicle you will eventually end up with will fit (height-wise) in a normal garage. I have a Ford E-150 campervan and it is too tall to fit in my garage.  It is too tall to fit in some public parking garages as well.