Buying a van in BC Canada

After planning to drive down the West Coast of America into Mexico we decided we would buy a van in Vancouver. A couple of reasons we picked Vancouver was we had friends there, the currency is very close to the NZD and the vans were better value for money.

We have both travelled a bit & stayed in hostels so my approach to arriving into Canada was “lets wing it and book accomodation on the day we get there” Oh how wrong was I. Hostels were $160 a night and filling up fast! Which meant we ended up sleeping in our sedan rental car just to save money.

Prior to arriving we had searched Craigslist, Kijiji & Facebook Marketplace the most popular buy/selling websites in Canada and managed to secure some viewings. The first car we viewed we ended up buying but not on the day, The first issue we ran into was not being able to withdraw a large sum of money from a bank in BC. We bank with Westpac back in New Zealand who is part of the Global ATM Alliance and Scotia Bank is the Canadian Partner so we thought we were going to be able to pull out the amount we needed, But we were shut down by the teller who had never even heard of such an Alliance.

A bit shocked and stunned we then made our way to the Autoplan and were hit with another bombshell when we began to sign up and our total came to $900 for three months insurance + tax of $300.  We left feeling very sorry for ourselves and wondering whether we needed to reassess our budget + vanlife project. So with our tails between our legs we dragged our sorry selves back to our nights accommodation.

The next day we went to the bank opened up a bank account which meant we could do a monthly payment of $250 and cancel the insurance for $30 when we wanted to.

Next stop was checking out a van that was $1500 cheaper than the first. Well it didn’t take me long to realise I better get good at negotiating the first van owner down.

So later that night we sat in a bar and offered $5800 ($1000 less than what he wanted) and we waited nervously for his reply, he accepted and we were now the proud owners of a Dodge B350 high roof van! Now lovingly named Buddy – our first home.

Celebration time, come on!
Buddy basking in the sun
Buddy basking in the sun
Home owners

In total we paid $5800 CAD (van) + $300 CAD (tax) + $250 CAD (insurance)

Steps to buying a van in BC Canada

  1. Book about 4 days accomodation. The process can take a few days to find what your looking for
  2. Check out Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace & Kijiji. These are the best websites, we also went to car yards they were move expensive but if you get desperate they are an option
  3. Open a bank account & ask for deposit slip you will need this if you sign up or a years insurance at the Autoplan. We went with HSBC because Scotiabank needed an address & phone number in BC which we didn’t have. The process was long but easy.
  4. Hire a car. If you are viewing vehicles the chances are they will be all over Vancouver and it is easier to get around in a rental & its cheap!!
  5. Find your car & then go to the Autoplan. At the Autoplan they provide you both with a registration and Insurance – every time you buy a car in Canada you get new number plates and insurance. Insurance in BC Canada is very expensive our options were:
    1. $250 CAD for 15 days
    2. $900 CAD for 3 months
    3. $250 CAD monthly for 1 year $30 cancellation fee
  6. Paying tax at the Autoplan is standard often the seller will put the selling price as very low so you don’t have to pay the tax man a huge amount. Ours came to $300CAD
  7. Check out Alberta for a car we hear that the insurance is about half the price. We just didn’t have the time/patience to drive all the way up there.


J  & J x

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