You could find one of the Ibanez solid body guitars (strat like - I have an EX series) for $200 or less and they are great guitars. The one I have is about 15 years old now and still has a nice straight neck that plays beautifully. It was actually my sons guitar and he always claimed he like it better than my Les Paul. The Ibanez neck was sure easy to play and with a HSH pickup arrangement it is pretty versatile.
Dont rule out Squier's. I have a Squier Standard Tele that plays as well as the Mex and USA Teles I've had. Solid guitars.Fender have been building guitars for nearly sixty years and know what they are doing.