How do you move or transfer virtual land without throwing real money away by tiering-up?

I recently jump through some serious hoops wanting to tier-up and discovered that even after four-years on the Second Life (SL) grid I still have much to learn. Among all the things you can do and create in SL, among the most nerve-wracking and apprehension-inducing is land-management. This primarily has to do with the fear of accidentally owing Linden Lab more real life legal tender than you are willing or desire to pay.

The first article in this little series I am presenting is on how to read and use your land-management control panel on your Second Life account page - which you can review here.

In my last post here, I covered the "Land management" area of your SL account page in detail. So now it's time to show you how to save some real money when flipping, transferring, trading or otherwise moving your land holdings around.

A little qualifying here: Private estates and private regions are a completely different monster as far as "land tier" goes, so this information applies strictly to "Linden Mainland" parcels and ownership, which has its well-known drawbacks as compared to estates, but also has many serious benefits over and above estates. I personally choose the latter and thus own twice as many full regions on the mainland as I could private regions in an estate.

To help you better understand the concepts I am about to explain, we will use a few simple scenarios. However, to keep things simple, we will assume the following:

  • You are a premium account holder.
  • You own 2048 square meters (M2) of mainland parcel (ignore the tier-free 512 M2 for this exercise - we'll assume you have a Linden Home or something).
  • You have a nice little retail shop on your existing 2048 M2 parcel that makes enough money that helps you with your current tier, but not enough to cover the next tier level.
  • You pay the requisite $15 U.S. for the 2048 parcel you have now and even one more square meter will bump you up to the next tier level ($25) per month.

Now, let us get started, shall we?

As is always the case, you find your nice plot of virtual land and decide it suits wonderfully. Over time, for one reason or another, you decide it's time to move. But this causes a problem. How do you transfer to a new parcel, often in another sim entirely, without tiering-up?

The problem is that Linden Lab charges your account tier based on the peak number of square meters you have owned at any single moment. If my tier payment is due on the first of each month and I own 2048 M2, that payment is $15 on the first of each month. So if I pay my $15 on january 1st and purchase another single square meter (impossible on the grid, so for example only) and I then own 2049 M2 - my February bill will become $25 - as I have just "tiered-up". This also is a major waste of money, which we will cover in the next posting about land management on the grid.

Even if I immediately sell that one square meter in the next 60-seconds. The rules state that for that one minute, I owned 2049 M2 - for which the tier falls into the 4096 category and is $25 per month.

So this puts me into a predicament: I already have 2048 M2, which I will call "parcel A" - and I have looked around and I see a nice 2048 M2 in another region where I would like to move to, which I will call "parcel B".

However, all my retail store, demonstration items, vendors, home are all set-out on parcel A. I can approach this in a couple of ways:

  • I can set parcel A for sale and go ahead an purchase Parcel B if I am willing to tier-up to $25 for one month.
  • I can sell parcel A and not purchase parcel B until after the sale - tiering down to zero (0) dollars per month temporarily until I purchase parcel B.
  • I can abandon parcel A and purchase Parcel B immediately without tiering up.

Let us look at each of these scenarios in turn...

Scenario one: tiering-up temporarily. I can set parcel A for sale, purchase Parcel B, and get started to setting B up with my store and home. Once that is done I will set a "we've moved" sign and landmark giver to my new store location.

The best way to handle this in a way to get the biggest "bang" for your extra buck is to do so as close as possible to your tier-billing day. If you are billed by Linden Lab for your tier on the 1st of each month, do this on the 2nd. This way you maximize the time you have to get that parcel A sold at a higher price and you can take your sweet time in setting-up parcel B. Set parcel A for sale at as high a price as you think you can get. If it doesn't sell in a week, lower the price a couple L$ per M2. Repeat if it doesn't sell in the second week and so on.

If parcel A doesn't sell by the 25th or 26th of the month (since billing day is the 1st of the following month) - drop the price to a ridiculously low level. If it doesn't sell by the afternoon of the last day in the current billing period: hit the abandon button.

In this scenario you are willing to pay the extra $10 for the month in the hope to make a little something back on the land sale and also to have the time to transfer everything in a more leisurely timeline. If you end-up abandoning parcel A, then think of the extra tier money as the cost for having a full month to move things around.

Scenario two: sell before purchase. This method allows me to move without tiering-up and paying extra money to Linden Lab for the month. However, it poses a couple of real problems I will be concerned with:

  • If my existing parcel A does not sell quickly, will the new parcel B I want still be available when A finally does sell?
  • When parcel A sells, all my stuff will be auto-returned to me and end-up in my lost and found folder in coalesced form - I won't know what is what!
  • I cannot start rebuilding my store and home on parcel B until I actually own it - which will be after parcel A sells.
  • My store will be gone as soon as parcel A sells and I will not have a store to sell from until I get it rebuilt on parcel B - which could be a rather stressful time as I rush to get the transfer of my store completed!

I certainly do not recommend this method of land transfer unless of course you are simply moving a home or whatever else you have that people aren't going to actually be looking for and throwing money at you for whatever is there. However, if you have a retail store or club or any other "destination" location, this scenario leaves too much outside your control to really be a wise business decision.

The answer, believe it or not, is scenario three!

Linden Lab may not like (or may not even care) what I am about to advise you on here, but it really is the best way to go about this from a money-saving business sense. Before you do anything, create the sign you will post - something to the effect of "We've moved! Click here for a landmark." - that landmark of course goes to the new parcel B you are about to purchase.

Next, go into edit-mode (CTRL-3 or Command-3 on Mac) - be sure to stand in the very middle of your store, select everything. Right-click and choose "More" then "Take a copy". You now have all your stuff, ready to rezz in a single drop.

Be sure your store is on the ground as teleporters may not work after abandoning the parcel. Go into land options and set things as desired. I recommend: allowing scripts, object creation, object entry, teleporting anywhere for everyone. In the objects tab, set autoreturn to about 10-minutes. Test your landmark giver and use the LM it gives you to be sure it works as intended.

Abandon the parcel.

Go to your Land Manager web page on your account to verify you are now tiered-down to $0 (it will not save your change to 0$ if you are not actually tiered-down - it might take a couple minutes for the web site to recognize you have actually done so).

Once verified that you are now tiered-down, go to parcel B and purchase it. Unfortunately the shape of parcel B is likely different from parcel A (which you have just abandoned). Go back into Edit mode (CTRL-3/Command-3) so the edit tools widget is showing. Also be sure in the View menu you have "Show property lines" turned on so you can see your parcel borders.

Remember that copy of all your stuff you took into inventory? Rezz it - when dragging from your inventory, put your mouse pointer at the absolute center of your new parcel. If any of your stuff goes outside your borders, they should stay put as long as you have the whole bundle selected.

Holding the SHIFT key, begin selecting those parts of your stuff that are clearly inside your border so they become unselected, leaving the other stuff outside your border selected.

Now, slide the remaining stuff into your border and again, shift-click to deselect. Continue this until all your stuff is now inside your border. At this point it's just a matter of cleaning-up and rearranging things.

Because parcel A was abandoned, your store and other stuff you left there will remain until a surname Linden comes along to return it all to you, which could be as little as an hour but more often a week or two. This allows people still teleporting into there to continue purchasing from you and more importantly: able to get that forwarding landmark to your new location while you get the new location all set-up over the next couple days.

Why abandon? Because it is a stress-free way to make the move without tiering-up. Additionally, it is unlikely parcel A would have sold very quickly unless your asking price is ridiculously low - in which case, the amount you would have made is most probably considerably less than the extra $10 in tier fee you would have to pay in the tiered-up level.

Consider the loss of a potential land sale to simply be the cost of the move. Sure, this scenario is counter intuitive, but as good business-sense goes: brilliant as you are saving a lot of real money.