Hi all,
So I am looking for an inexpensive strat that I can use to both play on, and try out repairs on. It can't break the bank (just in case I mess up the guitar), but it can't be pure junk, if that makes sense. I really have no repair knowledge so I would like the guitar to work so I can do DIY stuff gradually. Any suggestions on the strat for this scenario? Would a MIM be a good investment? A Highway 1? A squier? Or something else?
A squier would be good if you want to try repair and upgrade. They are a solid enough starting point, and there's a lot of them on the ebay that need some TLC. They definitely won't break the bank, either. The highway 1 or MIM would be a nice step up. There are other options, too. In my pics, there is my green Harmony strat (came from Sears in the early 80s). It was in pretty sorry shape when I got it, but it was still playable. I learned a ton about guitar repair doing it myself, and it never ended up unplayable save for when i was re-painting it. It's had 2 different pickup sets and hardware configurations.
Harmony: Stratocaster
Alvarez: F-200
Schecter: Omen 6
Fender: BXR-60
Dean: Metalman Z Bass (Betty)
Egnator: Tweaker 15
Pearl: Maximum
Custom: Harley Quinn Bass
Custom: TK-421 Explorer
A steadily growing supply of pedals
An used Squier Strat, for example. The Affinity and Standard series are great platforms for modding.

Messing with a Vintage Modified or a Classic Vibe is a crime IMHO, though.
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
Ryanbwags, I have received that response at other sites as well, and think that will be the route I take. However, I don't trust eBay for guitars, so would craigslist or a pawn shop be a viable alternative?