The Unreal Estate Boom
The 79th Richest Nation on Earth doesn't exist. The population is 225,000, the hourly wage $3.42. Welcome to virtual paradise, where a carpenter can live in the castle of his dreams - if he doesn't mind an 80-hour workweek double-clicking pig iron and hoarding digital dung. Not long ago, a 43-year-old Wonder Bread deliveryman named John Dugger logged on to eBay and, as people sometimes do these days, bought himself a house. Not a shabby one, either. Nine rooms, three stories, rooftop patio, walls of solid stonework - it wasn't quite a castle, but it put to shame the modest redbrick ranch house Dugger came home to every weeknight after a long day stocking the supermarket shelves of Stillwater, Oklahoma. Excellent location, too; nestled at the foot of a quiet coastal hillside, the house was just a hike away from a quaint seaside village and a quick commute from two bustling cosmopolitan cities. It was perfect, in short, except for one detail: The house was imaginary.