I generally buy used Apple equipment, being reluctant to pay the premium for brand new gear. This means I spend less, but tend to be a bit behind. Right now, I have a Mac Mini stuck at Snow Leopard (10.6), a MacBook and a MacBook Pro, both from 2006, stuck at Lion (10.7). They work well, they do all that I need, but they cannot progress to the latest levels of Mac OS X. Normally, I wouldn't mind. But at work, we have a need for an iPhone app, and I wanted to explore iOS development. For that you need XCode, and XCode needs Mountain Lion (10.8) or Mavericks (10.9) to run. I cannot put XCode on any of my devices. So staying at the blunt edge of technology does not work if you want to do iOS development.
I needed a machine that could run Mavericks. I investigated Craigslist and found once again that most people selling equipment on Craigslists are complete arseholes who take hours to answer texts, won't give out phone numbers, give addresses that don't exist, and sometimes don't even have the equipment for sale. I kept looking at MacBook Pros that were from around 2009 and 2010, that are running Mavericks, and cost about $600. Generally they only have about 2 gig RAM, so I would have to upgrade the memory before doing anything serious with XCode. But the problem with these is that they probably would not be able to run the latest Mac OS X in a year or two. What I really wanted was a development machine that would be up-to-date right now, and continue to be up-to-date for the next six years. I needed to buy a brand new Mac.
Have you looked at the prices for brand new Mac Books and iMacs? Insane. I'm not spending that much money. I ended up getting a Mac Mini with 4 gig. Normally I would get it at Apple, but Best Buy had $10 off, and I had a coupon for $15 off anything, so I got it at Best Buy. Only 4 gig, but I can upgrade to 16 gig for about $150 from Crucial.
I got it to work, upgraded all pieces of software, discovered that I get iWork for free, so got that downloaded, and got XCode downloaded and installed. I am set and ready for iOS development. I have the Big Nerd Ranch book for tutorials on old-school iOS development, and some newer works on Swift development, and I am ready to learn.