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 Islands
- Pat myself on the back and go with Seattle
Remember those mutants? I love me some mutants. I grew up with the Ninja Turtles; who could blame me? So, yes, instead of sticking SpongeBob in Seattle, I took the first option and assumed he was in the Marshall Islands.
Still, I knew some of you would be disappointed with my decision. Because I’m a nice guy, I did figure out how much SpongeBob’s house would cost in Seattle: $572. See, that’s nowhere near as satisfying as you wanted it to be.
How Much Does a Fry Cook Make?
With the Seattle fiasco out of the way, I still needed a way to figure out how much that damned pineapple would be worth. Instead of going at this problem straight on, I decided to figure how out how much SpongeBob could afford to pay on a mortgage each month.
It’s not pretty, folks.
SpongeBob is a fry cook at the Krusty Krab. If you’ve watched the show, you’ll know the Krusty Krab’s proprietor is filled with avarice. He’s cheap, cheap, cheap! You’ll also know he pays SpongeBob in cash. I took this to mean that he’s paying SpongeBob under the table, and probably below minimum wage.
I didn’t think the Marshall Islands would have a minimum wage, but I looked anyway. Unsurprisingly, the Islands do not. So I made a compromise: I decided to base Bikini Bottom’s minimum wage on Seattle, Washington’s minimum wage; that is $9.19 an hour, almost $2 more than the federal minimum wage, which is just $7.25.
But because SpongeBob is paid under the table, I assumed he was making just $6 an hour.
Working 40 hours a week at $6 an hour will get you an abysmal $240 a week or $12,480 a year (52 weeks a year with no vacation time).
What Could SpongeBob Buy for $12,480 a Year?
If you ever think about buying a house, you’ll wonder how much you can afford to spend on your mortgage each month. Home buyers usually ask this question: How much house can I afford? A general rule is that you shouldn’t spend more than 28 percent of your income on your monthly mortgage. In SpongeBob’s case this is about $291.
Using the Movoto Mortgage Calculator, I figured out a way for SpongeBob to own his home, while spending about $291 a month on his mortgage. Some things to remember: I assumed he paid a 20 percent down payment sometime prior to the start of the show, and that his interest rate was 4 percent at that time. My calculations were for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
That being said, SpongeBob could afford a $76,000 pineapple under the sea.
What Does $76,000 Buy?
Unlike some of my other posts, I knew that I needed to talk about what you’d get if you purchased Spongebob’s pineapple. You will get about two square feet of Bikini Bottom real estate. In fact, it’s less than two feet.
To figure out the height of SpongeBob’s pineapple, I needed to find something to use for scale. Instead of Googling “mutated pineapple,” I went down a well-trod path at the Movoto blog: I used a person, or in this case, a sponge. What this means is that I looked up SpongeBob’s height.
According to SpongeBob’s drivers’ license, he is 4 inches tall.
Once I knew Old Brown Pants’ size, I found an image of him standing in front of his pineapple. I then used SpongeBob’s height to estimate the height and width of the pineapple. I ended up with about 17 inches tall and 14 inches wide.
That’s a big pineapple.
As an aside, I looked up how big pineapples typically grow. There are a lot of answers out there, but it seems that about 12 inches is pretty common. This means that SpongeBob’s home is significantly larger than a normal pineapple under the sea. I guess SpongeBob is doing pretty well for a fry cook.
Editor’s Note: Yes, the author, is aware that the pineapple, located at 124 Conch Street, fell out of a boat, and landed in Bikini Bottom in the episode titled “Truth or Square”, which prompted SpongeBob to move in next to Squidward. It is unclear whether SpongeBob paid for his house or simply has squatter rights. It’s also unclear why the pineapple doesn’t float.