Buying a Camper in Oz – All you need to know

For months before our departure date, we were both so excited to buy, live and travel in a camper van, we couldn’t stop checking Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace for the latest vans for sale.

We had seen loads of adverts, read a few blog posts and thought we were now pretty clued up on buying a van in Oz. Through our reading we worked out you didn’t have too many costs. The initial cost of the vehicle itself and the REGO or registration papers (which we thought included insurance) and that was pretty much it.

Now we have bought a camper van for ourselves, lived in it for eight months and gone through all the processes and paid all the fees, we can now clarify what you actually have to pay. So here we go.

The Vehicle

Obvious one to start. But is it worth buying? We’ve read and worked out that generally if you are travelling for over three months, buy. If you are here less than three months, rent. We’re basing this mainly on getting a good whack of your money back when you go on to sell the van so we might update this bit when/if that happens! Also, if you buy for under three months, a large portion of that time will be spent stressing about selling it on, whereas with renting this wouldn’t be the case.

The REGO

We bought a van with a WA (Western Australia) REGO. These are generally known as the ‘Golden Plates‘ as you can renew online from any state without having to get a roadworthy certificate. They’re also the cheapest!

*If you are buying a vehicle with another states plates, please research if this following information applies to you too.*

The WA REGO includes CTP (compulsory third party insurance) which only covers personal injury. The REGO cost us £431 for a year, this price will vary vehicle to vehicle. Look out for how much time left before the REGO expires when buying. Sometimes there’s 6 months or so left so if you’re only doing 4/5 months road tripping, you won’t have to pay to renew!

Insurance

We bought third party insurance which only cost an extra £92 for the year and $400 excess when I (Dan) embarrassingly reversed into someone. As with everywhere, there are comparison sites to help but generally we found this tricky without a permanent residential address. We ended up doing it through our bank NAB – who use Allianz – and it cost around the same as the comparison sites anyway.

Vehicle License Transfer

You then have the fee to transfer the vehicle license, £102. This is so the vehicle is legally registered in your name. You do this by visiting the Department of Transport and taking in your forms you received when buying the vehicle.

Roadside Assist (breakdown cover)

When buying a second hand, old van with many miles on the clock, it’s probably worth getting roadside assist. Again, the amount will vary, it cost us £56 for basic cover for the year. We also did this through our bank NAB, very helpful people in there.

Services and maintenance

Over here, you’re suppose to get a service every 10,000km (6213.7 miles) or every 6 months. Not only is that more often than in the UK, Australia is quite a lot bigger than the UK so 10,000km comes around pretty quick. We went with Kmart Service centre and the service cost around £96 before parts and repairs (they then hike up the prices, so be careful!). We found using Kmart for the service and shopping around for the repairs is the most cost effective here.

To help keep the repair costs low, maintain your vehicle! Keep oil and coolant topped up and don’t push it on the roads. Oil and coolant can become expensive if you buy it when you need it and not in advance e.g. a couple of times we bought from roadhouses in the middle of nowhere because we had to. Whereas if we bought in bulk from a SuperCheap Autos or Repco we would have definitely saved. We found these shops the best for service and price.

Fuel

Don’t forget to allow for fuel in your budgeting. Overall fuel is much cheaper than the UK but as I’ve mentioned, Oz is big and you do a lot more miles. To give you an idea, over 23,684km (so far) we have spent $3874. That’s $16.72 per 100km.

Now obviously all vehicles will run differently and eat your money at different rates. We have a 2004 2.4L petrol Toyota Hiace and over that distance it’s averaged 9.39km/L.

I love stats, if you do too, download the Fuel Map Australia app. I’ve talked about it more here.

Other extras

You’ll see a lot of adverts saying “ready to go” or something equivalent. Generally, this means the vehicle comes with the camping stoves, chairs, bedding, cutlery and all the bits you need to jump in and go. That’s great, however, you may want some fresh, new bits. We bought Stripe from Freedom Campers in Perth and Dan (check out his website here) who kits out vans with completely new equipment.

Even with everything brand new, we still ended up getting over excited in Kmart and spending a couple of hundred dollars!

All in all, if you are buying a vehicle over in Australia, the initial extras that you may not consider beforehand can cost anywhere around £800-900. Make sure you budget it in and can afford to do it!

We hope this has helped you in your quest to buy a van to see Australia.

Let us know if you have any questions or tips on buying a vehicle in Oz in the comments 🙂

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