When planning a van conversion, one of the first things that comes to mind is the budget required for the van purchase and then the cost involved in the conversion itself.
Everyone has a different image in their mind when it comes to how they want their van conversion to look and what amenities they want to include. Therefore, the camper van conversion cost can vary dramatically depending on whether you want just the basics or you want your van fully kitted out like a real home!
While researching how to convert our van, we took inspiration from blogs, pinterest photos and YouTube videos. Some of the van conversions we saw looked incredible and had comfortable beds, amazing kitchens, big TVs and even full sized bathrooms!
We had an approximate budget in our mind before starting the project and this included the cost of the van and the cost of the van conversion. Based on our approximate budget, it meant that we could only afford to buy a smaller sized second-hand van.
The image we had in our minds for our van was that of a cosy cabin. We wanted to use a lot of wood and for the van to be comfortable as an office space as well as a bedroom.
In this blog post, we will explain how much it cost to convert our camper van in Japan. We will break down the costs by category so it’s easy to see where the money was spent!
The Van Itself
In Japan, there is an online marketplace called “yahoo auction” where people can buy and sell things. There is an entire section for vehicles and it seems to be a popular place for people looking to purchase a bargain second-hand van!
After spending some time visiting garages near my hometown, I realised yahoo auction would be the best place to purchase a van due to the lower costs. There is one issue with purchasing a vehicle on yahoo auction though! If the van is located in another part of Japan, it’s not possible to see the van and take it for a test drive before making the decision to purchase.
The whole process between purchasing the van and it arriving in my hometown took 3 weeks.
- Model: NISSAN VPE25
- Year: 2004
Insurance, Road Tax & Roadworthy Check: ¥100,000
Camper Van Conversion Costs
Below, I will share how much the DIY cost. We were complete amateurs before starting this van conversion, so it might be possible to do the conversion cheaper if you can source cheaper materials such as wood.
Outside of Japan, it’s very common for people to use recycled materials to build their van. This obviously saves a lot of money and it’s also good for the environment!
There is also a video at the bottom of this blog post which goes into more detail about each section and what exactly was purchased.
Exterior Painting: ¥9383
Plug Socket: ¥4736
Electricity System Costs
We knew we wanted a powerful electricity system in our van since we both work online and need power to charge our laptops and cameras. Since our original van conversion, we have also added another electricity system in addition to the one mentioned below.
Click here to see a more detailed blog post about our electricity systems.
Solar Panel & Cables: ¥14,399
Jackery 700 Portable Battery: ¥75,000
Curtains and Cushions Cost
We really wanted a super comfortable bed since we would be living in our van full-time. We invested in good quality foam and a fabric design that we loved and would match the “jungle” theme inside our van.
Cushion Covers: ¥8500
Cushion Foam: ¥22,000
The below costs are not necessary expenses for converting a van, however we wanted to make the van feel cosy and like a little home so that’s why we purchased nice lighting and decorations!
Ikea Purchases: ¥12,609
Seat Covers & Steering Wheel Cover: ¥5000
Total Camper Van Conversion Cost
So after adding everything together, the total cost of our van plus the camper van conversion cost came to ¥744,384!
Before starting the van conversion, we had the budget of ¥500,000 in our minds but after researching vans on yahoo auction, we realised we would only be able to meet a budget of ¥500,000 if we purchased a really old and potentially unreliable van!
We didn’t want to have any engine troubles so we decided to pay more and get a decent van which was in good condition for its age and the amount of km it had run!
After purchasing the van and paying for the additional extras for a total of ¥450,000, we decided that our budget for the conversion would be around ¥250,000. This would mean the total project budget would be around ¥700,000.
We did end up going over our budget slightly, but we were ok with that since we really love how our van turned out. It has exceeded our expectations and is better than we could have hoped for!
As I mentioned above, since completing our van conversion, there are a few changes we have made to the van which have incurred extra expenses!
We added another electricity system, we installed mosquito nets and we also installed a fridge once the summer hit.
Once you start living in your van, you start to realise what you need and don’t need, so it is likely that you might add or remove some things as times goes on.
Our Overall Verdict
We hope this blog post was a good insight for anyone who is planning to convert a van in Japan (or anywhere in the world!)
The budget required varies dramatically depending on how “luxurious” you want your van to be, so if you are looking for a more basic design, the budget you will need will be considerably less than what we spent!