Linden Lab finally released their "Linden Homes" to public consumption yesterday. A Linden Home is being provided to all premium account holders as an option, where the existing tier-free allotment of land ownership can be applied here - and receive a themed house to go along with it.

It comes with 117 prims. And this is the important part to pay attention to, as when you pay tiers, this is what you are really paying for: the number of prims you may use.

Many will complain that 117 prims is useless because one cannot properly furnish these homes. I beg to differ as we (Zodiac House) have been working the last few weeks to prepare complete home furnishings for these Linden Homes allowing you to furnish every room: Livving, Bed, Kitchen and Bath in about 100 prims - leaving some for whatever else you want to add. These will be released for sale this weekend.

But I digress...

The reason I bring-up the Linden Homes is there was a comment on the LL blog where someone had mentioned they owned some land already, then took a Linden Home and it caused them to "tier-up". Had that person used the Land Manager on their account page, they would have clearly understood this would happen long before their error.

Among all the things you can learn to do and manage in Second Life, by far the most confusing and even tricky is: land ownership and how it affects your tier - the real money you pay to Linden Lab for the privilege. This is a primer on that.

First, what I speak on here has nothing to do with Estate Regions - private islands that sit in the middle of the ocean. Rather, this little lesson is on any virtual land you own where you pay your tier fees directly to Linden Lab - which I personally feel is the best and safest arrangement for any long term land ownership.

Linden Lab will never evict you for any reason other than your account going too far into arrears. Beyond that you are free to do with as you choose on your virtual property within the confines of the Terms of Service and Community Standards. Linden Lab will let you be for as long as you want.

The tricky thing is understanding tier...the monthly fees you pay to Linden Lab for the privilege (you must be a premium account holder or manager of a group authorized to purchase land for the group).

So here is your first lesson with regard to mainland parcel ownership.

The first thing you must understand are the tier levels. And they can be a bit misleading at first. But having a clear understanding will actually save you a lot of money and allow you maximum number of prims for the least cost. Since non-premium account holders can technically buy land for a group, it should be made clear this tutorial does not involve them. Take this information as a personal instruction for personal land-ownership.

You can view the land tier structure from your account page at Second Go to and in the left-hand rail menu, choose "Land Manager"->"Land Use Fees". It is important to understand that though this is called a "land manager" - it is more or less for informational purposes only. You cannot actually "tier-up" or "tier down" solely from here. It works in-conjunction with your activities in-world.

In this "level 101" of my land tutorial, we'll cover what this page is, does and how it helps you understand what is going on with your virtual land ownership responsibilities as it pertains to real costs to you. Upon selecting this page, you will be presented with the "Land Management" page:

Here you can see what you have, what you can buy without adding to your costs and what the costs will be if you add more than your "tier level".

It is highly important to understand: Any changes you make here does not affect the amount of money you owe to Linden Lab each month or the amount of land you own in-world. It is simply an informational calculator for the purpose of giving you an overview of your virtual land holdings and helps you to plan your land-ownership transactions. There are two sections to this manager, let us look at each in-turn.

The first section is the actual tier calculator. The purpose is to show you what you have and owe now, and "what-if" scenarios:

Let us look at this section line-by-line and what each means and can do for you. First, the headers along the top are misleading. "Current Fees" and "Estimated Fees" only apply to the last line of the table. These headers should really only state "Current" and "Estimated" without the word "Fees".

  • Line 1: Square Meters Owned.
    In the "Current" column, this is what you actually own in-world. Looking to the last line in the table you can see clearly what your cost obligation is to Linden Lab. This cost is only for actual, currently-owned land. You must be careful as this is not the actual monthly billing amount.

    This is the amount you will owe on your next billing date, not the billing date coming due. If you enter a number of square meters in the "Estimated" field and click the "Calculate" button at the bottom of the section, you can see what your new cost obligation will be. It is important to understand that your first 512 square meters (M2) is tier-free. It costs you zero because it is included with your premium membership.

    Example: You own 512 and are thinking of purchasing a 1024. Enter this into the Estimated field and click the calculate button. You will see the cost obligation. However, if you plan to purchase a 1024 M2 in addition to your 512, then you should enter 1536 in the estimated field (512+1024).

  • Line 2: Square Meters Donated.
    Rather than owning land outright, you can donate tier to a group. Groups cannot own land or pay tiers, so members of a group must donate the tier "responsibility" so that the land can be deeded to the group. Then all members of the group "share" ownership of that parcel, each obligating themselves to cover the tiers required through their "donation".

    If you have any donations to groups which own land, the Current will show it. If you are thinking of donating M2 to a group - the Estimated will show you any new obligations. If you are thinking to deed land you own to a group, you must donate tier shares to the group at the same time. Enter that amount here.

    Note: groups receive a 10% land bonus. Meaning an additional 10% of the donated shares can be owned (deeded) to the group tier-free. We will cover group-shares and donations in another post.

  • Line 3: Premium Bonus in Square Meters.
    This always will show as 512, unless Linden Lab changes or revokes it (or you are not a premium account holder). It is presented here to help with your calculations.

  • Line 4: Paid Tier Level.
    This is the total of M2 that you own and are obligated to pay tier on. The estimated column forecasts the new level upon which you would be obligated should you sell-off or purchase new virtual land. Note that this number is the sum of "Owned" plus "Donated" minus "Bonus".

    Thus, if you own 1024 M2 of land that is deeded to a group and you own a Linden Home, the current column might look like from the top-down: 512, 1024, 512, 1024. meaning that even though you technically own 1536 M2, you are only responsible for paying tier on 1024.

  • Line 5: Available Square Meters.
    Probably the most important line in the entire table, next to the bottom line. If you have M2 donated to groups, you get a "land bonus" - ability to own additional land tier-free. The real purpose of this line is to help you maximize the amount of land you can own based on the money you are paying to Linden Lab.

    If you own 600 square meters, you are paying tier for more land than you own. It is a waste of real money. This field shows you how much more land you can buy without bumping-up to the next tier level, thereby maximizing the amount of land you can own for the same money you already are paying.

    The key here is this line shows how much more land you can own before you are obligated to bump-up to the next higher tier level. You can purchase this much more land and your monthly tier bill will stay the same. Of course, more land give you more prims (if it is in the same region). Had the member I mentioned above who requested a Linden Home and "accidentally" tiered-up looked at this line on his account page, he would have clearly seen that additional land would cost him more money.

    Remember: it is your first 512 M2 that is tier-free. Not the last.

  • Line 6: Monthly Cost.
    This is the actual dollar amount that applies to Line 4. Note that tier levels are fixed levels. Meaning if you own 1024 M2, purchasing 10 square meters will bump you to the next level - as though you owned 2046 M2 - even if you own that last 10 square meters for 10-seconds. We will go into detail on this concept in a future post.

The important thing is to understand why the calculator is here, why you might want to use it and how to use it to more easily manage your tier obligation to Linden Lab as you consider purchasing or selling virtual land in Second Life.

The second section of the Land Manager page is simply a reference:

These are the different tier levels available. Selecting a higher tier level does nothing but more or less show you what you have "budgeted" for yourself. Other than that, it apparently does nothing at all. You cannot select a lesser tier level than what you are responsible for, based on your actual land-holdings and donations in-world. However, if you own 1024 M2 and select 8192 M2 on this chart - nothing will happen.

Linden Lab will only bill you for what you actually own, based on your peak-ownership level for the previous month. It is simply (more or less) a reference. At least, in all my years in SL, I've not found it to affect anything one way or the other - other than to be a simple reference for my own budgeting needs.

Next article: How to buy and sell land in a way to save the most real money with regard to tiering-up or tiering-down and not get nabbed by a mistake that could cost you huge sums of real money.