First, research which van fits all your needs.
Then, chose your dream van!
What I did
First, I went to a business who had many different vans in Son called Best Vans Mazeland. The person showing me the different vans was very nice and helpful. I told him that I wanted to turn it into a campervan and he really tried to find the best for me. I came to the place with the idea to buy a ford custom, but ended up looking more at Renaults and Opels. The next few weeks, I looked at a couple more vans from dealerships and private owners. Sometimes driving for a 1,5 hours, which is a lot for the Netherlands, but you can make it a fun trip. Plus, each time I learned something new. At the end, I choose a Renault Trafic from a dealership.
What I've learned
Be honest with yourself. Know what your actual goal is for this project. Long term vs short term. Old vs new. An older car is less expensive, but you might need to replace old elements or your maintenance bill might be higher. Plus, you might want to sell your van after a year or longer. Or maybe you don’t and you don’t care about gaining some money back from selling your van. A newer van is more expensive at the start, but might be less expensive after that. It is up to you.
There are so many options. Air conditioning, safety options, parking sensors, windows etc. Make a clear list of all the options you definitely want and which options would be a bonus.
Look at different cars, drive different cars. Don’t just buy the first one you see, it might be the one at the end, but you don’t know for sure unless you’ve seen and tried other ones as well. At first, I thought I wanted to buy a ford transit custom, but after driving one I changed my mind. This could have just been that specific ford, because I’ve learned that each used van drives differently depending on the last owner and other factors. However, it does show that trying other vans as well never hurts. If you already have experience in driving vans this might not apply.
Make a decision. Trust your gut. When looking at cars don’t feel pressured to make a decision right away. Sleep on it for a night (or two). However, after looking at a couple vans, make your decision. I realized that there were enough vans that fitted my criteria and that I would always find another one that would be good. It might be a bit scary, for me it felt a bit weird at first: ‘am I really going to do this…’ But yes, after you have done your research and looked at a couple vans, trust your gut and just choose one!