When I tell people I evaluate fictional real estate on a regular basis, their eyes usually light up as they ask me what some of their favorite fictional homes might be worth. More often than not, I can rattle off the price, or at least get pretty close, but there is one home that has eluded me.
SpongeBob, your pineapple under the sea has been the bane of my social life for quite some time.
Today, loyal Movoto Real Estate blog readers, I finally bring you the estimate you’ve all but begged for: How much does SpongeBob SquarePants’s pineapple under the sea cost?
I warn you, it was a long and dangerous road, filled with twists and turns. Yet, I am satisfied with the answer. Now, whenever a new acquaintance asks how much a pineapple under the sea is worth, I can stand up a bit straighter and proudly proclaim: $76,000.
If you want to know how I figured it out, grab a Krabby Patty, because you are in for one wild ride that’s going to take you where few dare to go: Bikini Bottom.
The Tribulations of a Fictional Real Estate Wonk
Typically, when I write these posts, I talk about the three things I need to find the value of a fictional piece of property: location, size, and comparable properties. For this post, I had to throw all that out the window. This evaluation was very different from past posts, and not because of the pineapple. In fact, the strangeness has everything to do with the real-world equivalent of where SpongeBob calls home. In fact, I had to find a whole new way to value SpongeBob’s pineapple (more in a bit).
Nonetheless, my woes came from one part of my research: where Bikini Bottom is supposed to be.
Bikini Bottom Real Estate
SpongeBob and his pals live in Bikini Bottom, a zany town filled with most everything you could
want. There’s a lot of fan speculation as to where Bikini Bottom is located, but my favorite—and the one I think has the most legitimacy—is the theory that it is located in the Pacific Ocean near Bikini Atoll.
In case you don’t know your history, I brushed up on my atomic bomb knowledge before starting this post. Bikini Atoll, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is where the United States tested 23 nuclear device between 1946 and 1958.
I’m going to let this part sink in for a moment…
…SpongeBob and his cohorts are MUTANTS!
At least that’s what some think. Including me.
Armed with a location, I turned to comparable properties. Typically, this is a straightforward process. I find some homes or castles that are similar to the property I’m evaluating and then do some basic arithmetic. Only this is where I came across Plankton, waiting for me with a sneer on his face.
The Trouble With Marshall Island
Did you know there’s no major real estate company in the Marshall Islands? That sure would have made my life easier. Looking for comparable properties was like taking a time machine into the ‘90s just to look at really bad website design.
Needless to say, my search was fruitless. I couldn’t find comparable properties. In fact, what I discovered was that navigating Marshall Islands land rights laws would be like having SpongeBob run your city. Essentially, unless you were born on the islands, you can’t purchase land there. To complicate the matter, land might be owned by up to three different people at the same time, and can be passed down through family lineage.
This means that unless you were born in the Marshall Islands, you won’t be purchasing SpongeBob’s home anytime soon. The best you could hope for would be to rent it from the owner. I’m certain SpongeBob could use the extra finances.
Undaunted, I dug into the show’s lore some more. What I found was that Bikini Bottom, though located in the Marshall Islands, is loosely based on Seattle, Washington. If you don’t believe me, check out the Sea Needle, an obvious parody of the Space Needle.
This left me with two options:
Figure out a way to evaluate the pineapple in the Marshall…