How much does the property actually cost which George, Lennie and Candy are talking about buying in Of Mice and Men?
In the third chapter of the book Lennie gets George talking about the little farm he knows about which can be bought cheap. George tells him it has ten acres with a "little shack on it." Candy has overheard part of the conversation and asks how much they would have to pay for a place like that. George tells him:
"Well--I could get it for six hundred bucks. The ol' people that owns it is flat bust an' the ol' lady needs an operation. Say--what's it to you?? You got nothing to do with us."
But Candy has a practical reason for his interest. He tells George:
"An' they give me two hundred an' fifty dollars 'cause I los' my hand. An' I got fifty more saved up right in the bank, right now. Tha's three hundred, and I got fifty more comin' the end a the month."
Candy offers to put all his money into the farm if they will take him in as a third partner. This makes the dream of ownership a near reality. All they need is another two hundred and fifty dollars and they can own ten acres of beautiful California land with cherries, apples, peaches, apricots, nuts, and berries. The house must not amount to much if George calls it a "shack." There were plenty of such shacks in the 1930's. They were not much different from the ones the sharecroppers of Oklahoma lived in. But George has plans to fix the place up, and he is the one man of the three who is capable of doing such things.
George is amazed to see that his dream might actually come true, and in a very short time. He says:
"If me an' Lennie work a month an' don't spen' nothing, we'll have a hunderd bucks. That'd be four fifty. I bet we could swing her for that. Then you an' Lennie could go get her started an' I'd get a job an' make up the res', an' you could sell eggs an' stuff like that."
They agree to take possession of the farm in just one month. George says he will write the old people and tell them they will take their place. Candy will send them a hundred dollars to bind the deal.
If this seems cheap for a ten-acre farm in California, it is because the state's population was small at the time. There were only about two-and-a-half million in the whole large state, and most of them lived around San Francisco or Los Angeles. Cash was hard to come by for small-time farmers. That explains why so many of the little farms were being taken over by the big ranches that could grow cash crops like barley. George talks about selling eggs and stuff like that--but they would have a hard time raising cash for things they had to buy. All the little farmers had eggs, milk, vegetables, and other such produce they wanted to sell for cash. George would probably have to do some outside labor while Lennie and Candy looked after their farm. They might find that their dream was not as pleasant as they expected.