You may remember that some time ago, I posted an article on What is land ownership as opposed to renting? I promised then this second article, exploring some of the pros and cons of buying from Linden as opposed to a private sale – so here goes.
The first thing about buying from Linden Lab is security. As long as Second Life continues, you will hold the land you own.
The second thing is that you will pay the flat, basic rate. There will be no added extras – UNLESS Linden decides to charge local taxes (such as the VAT imposed on Europeans).
The first 512 sqm of your land, your basic plot, will be free of tier charges.
You will be able to shape your land as you want it.
You’ll be able to build on it what you want (if it is a mature sim) as long as it does not violate the Terms of Service.
To own Linden land, you’ll need a Premium account. You’ll have to be paying a regular, annual subscription. Of course, you’ll also be getting a small stipend (currently $300 Lindens a week), so if you want a small piece of land the economics might work in your favour (as you can also take advantage of the free tier) – you’ll need to do the sums.
You’ll have no control over what the neighbours do. If one side want to open a bdsm brothel where people get whipped all night long, while the other side want a disco with HUGE F*L*A*S*H*I*N*G neon lights, and the people who were running the gentle marina on the edge of the bay you overlooked sell up to someone who builds a mountain instead … well, you have no recourse.
Even worse, you might find yourself next to a dumping ground, or a solid wedge of advertising spam – all of which can be so prim-rich as to bury you under a load of lag that will make it difficult to move from the living room to the bedroom in your little home.
Please note: the thumbnail pic here is mine – if you click through, you’ll see Khamudy Mannonen’s pic of the sim.
Some of these problems can be solved if you own your own island. However, that’s a serious financial commitment. It can be lessened if a like-minded group of friends share the costs – but you had better be very certain of the friendships, or prepared to put things on a busines-like footing.
Many private islands/sims are themed – for example Caledon (Victorian/steampunk); Winterfell (dark medieval/Goth/fantasy); the Island of Wyrms (draconic fantasy); the various Gorean sims that enforce Gorean rules and customs; the furry sims and tiny sims for their respective avatars.
But even when there is no roleplaying or particular avatar needs, owners may choose to have a firm covenant in force to create a particular ethos for a particular sim. Thus the Anshe Chung areas, Dreamland, are organised into a series of geographical areas (such as Asia, Gothica, Buccaneers and Arabia) with landscaping to match, and a requirement of residents to respect this.
The Otherland Group, another popular group of privately owned islands offered for sale, also have themed areas, such as Maledives (sic), New England and Water, Woods. Others are not themed, but expected to adhere to a strict covenant that specifies such things as:
- Flying houses and other large structures in the sky (skyboxes) are only allowed above 400m
- No skyscrapers (this is residential, not downtown)
- Don’t build directly on the border of your property. Keep a distance that is in proportion with the height of your build.
Keep a balance between parcel area and building size. On all parcels of 4000 sqm or more:
- Don’t cover more than a third of the area with your buildings.
- Don’t cover more than half of the land (water is not land) with your buildings.
- Swimming pools or paths don’t count as building 😉
- Never cover more than half of the area with prims
The Otherland group have rules too on Security, Vegetation, Lag Control – and several other elements. It might seem very proscriptive – but it provide a harmonious environment for many people.
Another advantage of buying privately is that you don’t need a Premium account. Once you have bought the land, you simply pay your tier to the land’s owner.
Firstly, if the covenant is very strict, you might feel you would almost be as well off renting. This can, however, be avoided if you choose your land carefully … and that you certainly need to do …
If you buy from a small property company, you could lose your land if they went under. Hopefully, in these circumstances, the price you paid for your land would be refunded – but there are no guarantees.
All, small companies are more likely to change hands more frequently and you might find the covenant being re-negotiated to fit the new owners’ specifications.
If you buy from a large property company, you could find yourself with extra charges and suddenly imposed conditions, irrespective of tier costs charged by Linden Lab. Sometimes (like the imposition of VAT) these may be connected to the SL economy; sometimes they may be connected to the company’s own business needs.
Generally speaking, the problem of lag will be reduced on a privately owned island. But I have seen some dreadful places, where the owners were clearly more concerned with the money they could make from cramming the greatest number of lots onto their land, rather than creating a pleasant and welcoming environment.
What lessons can be learned?
On the whole, a good property on a privately owned island, backed by an established company or landowner is probably going to be your best bet. make sure, however, that the land offers what YOU want – and not what the owner wants to sell you.
A good relationship with the landowner/agent is priceless. One of the most impressive things in this month’s magazine, for example, is how highly the tenants of the Winterfell sims speak of the owner there, Serra Anansi (see Page 8). That sort of reputation is a huge advantage when you’re looking to buy. The same is true of Melody Regent of the Venice/Tuscany/Celestial Requiem sims, Quintus Qabalah of Castle Island, Sofia Standish of Serafina, and the Otherland group, all of whom I hear Good Things about.
And if you know of any others – or of horrors to be avoided – why not add details in the comments here (but please, nothing libellous).