Buying Land In Second Life: Part 1 – Should I Rent Or Buy?

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Home Sweet Home

Welcome to the Buying Land in Second Life Primer!  This will be a (hopefully) comprehensive series of articles on the ins and outs, ups and downs of land buying or ownership in Second Life.  So you’ve decided you want a place to call your own and put down a few roots in Second Life.  Great!  The question then becomes, “How do I make that happen?”

A good first start is to ask yourself a question:  “Should I rent or buy?”  There are two ways to get your own land in Second Life.  You can either rent from someone that owns land, or buy a parcel of your own.  Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.  The first thing you need to understand is how land works in Second Life.  The big thing to remember is that no one in Second Life truly owns land.  You’re always renting from someone, it just depends on who you’d rather rent from, a land owner or Linden Lab.  Land owners either own land on one of the Second Life continents, collectively referred to as the “mainland”, or they own one or more private islands.  Keeping this in mind, you’re always paying Linden Lab for land, directly or indirectly.

Rented Land: You pay the landlord, he pays Linden Lab

Owned Land: You pay Linden Lab directly in the form of tier

Let’s look at some of the reasons you might want to either rent or buy land.

Reasons for Renting

  • You don’t have a premium account.  If you don’t have premium account in Second Life, your only option is going through a landlord and renting a parcel.  Linden Lab requires a premium account to own land, however, you can rent from someone even with a free account.
  • You only need a parcel temporarily.  Maybe you’re looking for a private place to do some building, but once you’re done you don’t want to keep paying for land.  Renting a place is for the most part simple, just pay the rent and move in.  Once your lease is up, you can renew or keep moving.  No land to worry about disposing of.
  • You want to get your feet wet.  Maybe the idea of land ownership is appealing, but you’re not sure you want to commit to a parcel and/or the premium membership required for it yet.  Try renting a place for a week or two and see how it feels.
  • You want a place with some rules.  One of the hazards of the mainland unfortunately can be bad neighbors.  Nothing like having someone put up a twelve story black gothic wizard’s tower in the middle of your tiki island themed neighborhood.  The mainland has no covenant.  People can build pretty much whatever they want wherever they want with little you can do about it.  Privately owned island communities can have rules in place however, enforcing certain themes or rules on land in the area like a homeowner’s society.  Just make sure you read the covenant before renting in a place like this and are ok with the rules.


Reasons for Buying

  • Your land on your terms.  No covenants, no rules.  You can set the land permissions the way you want, set whatever group you want to the land, set the music the way you want it, etc.
  • It’s really yours.  One disadvantage of renting is that Linden Lab doesn’t officially recognize land rentals.  You could be paying your rent on time every week, but if your landlord doesn’t pay his bills, the private island you’re renting space on could suddenly vanish.  If your landlord decides to kick you to the curb for any reason or no reason, he can do it.  If you own land directly through Linden Lab, then the only way you’re going to lose it would be not paying the tier on it or if Second Life closes its doors. 
  • You want to cut out the middleman.  Often rental land in Second Life is owned by Land Barons that buy large amounts of land and rent or sell it.  As most of these operations are not exactly non-profit, there may be a mark-up on the price you’d be paying directly to Linden Lab and the price you’re paying to the landlord.


Premium Membership and Tier

If you’re considering buying land in Second Life, two things come into play, premium membership and tier.  Premium membership is required to own land in Second Life.  If you already have it, you’re good to go.  If you don’t, you can go to and upgrade your account for a fee.  Premium membership at the time of this writing runs $72.00 for an annual membership.  You can also pay monthly or quarterly at higher rates.  If you think about it though, the annual membership is not a bad deal.  That membership comes with L$300 per week stipend deposited to your avatar’s account, so you’re getting L$15,600 back per year from that membership.  Currently that translates to $63.46 in real money to spend on whatever you wish in the game (maybe buying land).  Looked at that way, your membership is only costing a bit less than $9.00 a year.  Plus premium membership entitles you to 512sqm of land for free.  More on that later.

Premium Membership only gets you in the door though.  To own more than 512sqm of land, you have to pay tier.  Boiled down to basics, tier is just a fancy name for rent.  Tier is paid once a month to Linden Lab and the price you pay depends on how much land you own.  You can pay anywhere from $5 per month on up.  Each tier level specifies how much land you can own up to a maximum amount.  If you exceed the maximum amount, you move to the next tier.  Each tier level doubles the amount of land you can own from the previous level.  The smallest tier allows you 512sqm.  Once you own 513sqm, you get kicked up automatically to the next tier which allows you 1024sqm.  Once you hit 1025sqm, you go to the next tier which allows 2048sqm and so on.  One exception to this is group owned land which I’ll get into in a later post.  The tier levels and prices are laid out here.

Since this series has high hopes of being a comprehensive guide to land buying and ownership in Second Life, further posts will be dealing with such topics as finding and buying land, hints and tips on land buying and ownership and pitfalls to buying and owning land.  Part 2 will cover finding land to purchase.

Part 2: Finding Land To Buy

4 thoughts on “Buying Land In Second Life: Part 1 – Should I Rent Or Buy?”

  1. Hi Cassandra! I’ve been waiting patiently for Part 2 ‘Finding Land to Purchase’. Do you think you’ll post it soon?

    Thank you for the wonderful information!

    MG Canonmill

  2. please continue this series. It’s the only logical explanation of land issues I’ve found in seven years.

  3. @Hashi – thank you for the vote of confidence. I kind of got caught up in other things and this fell by the wayside. I’ll see if I can get my thoughts together and get part two written!

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