You can find all sorts of things in Second Life. One of the things you will run across a lot is…homes. I don’t say “houses” because not everyone’s Second Life dwelling looks like a conventional house. Many do, of course – but there are also castles, caves, tree houses, platforms in the sky, huge airships or spacecraft, luxury yachts, or simply a lovely garden.
As I’ve said before, almost everything in SL is created by its residents. Many places are open to the public…stores, clubs, schools, parks, marinas…but other places are residents’ personal spaces, and it’s not always easy to tell which is which. The parcel description (found in the land information window) will often give you a clue.
Some homes are available to rent. For example, I rent apartments on my land at Masocado. You can generally tell if a place is for rent because there will be a sign or a rental box somewhere nearby advertising the fact.
What you will never find is a “free home” that you can just move into and claim as your own. I’ve logged in on several occasions to find strangers in my house. Often they are nice people, just curious and exploring, and once we get the confusion straightened out, we have a pleasant talk. Sometimes though, I’ve been told, “What are you doing here? This is MY house, I was here first!” This sort of response generally results in an instant ejection and ban.
Here are the realities: Many things in SL are free, but land is not one of them. Land is valuable because when you have some, you can put objects there, like a house and plants and furniture. The more land you have, the more things you can put there. You can get land (a free Linden Home) with a paid Premium membership, or you can buy or rent land from another resident. Rent is usually paid weekly, in $L. If you own mainland, you will pay a monthly charge to LL known as “tier”. Note that with land, there may or may not be a “purchase” price, but there will always be a weekly or monthly fee as well…because you don’t really “own” the land, you’re renting server space from Linden Lab.
How much it will cost depends on where the land is, and the business plan of the landowner. In very general terms, expect to pay around $L5 to $10 per prim per month. So, if you owned or rented a 1024 square meter parcel that allows you to have 234 prims on it, you would pay about $L1170 to $L2340 per month, or $4.68 to $9.36 USD.
But let’s go back to the issue of housebreaking. There’s no consensus on whether it’s right or wrong to go into someone’s SL home when they’re not around. Some homeowners don’t care if you come in and look around, and bounce on the beds to try out the mattresses. After all, most of us are only in world a few hours a day, and our homes stand empty the rest of the time. In addition, you can’t steal anything or break anything. So some people just shrug and say, “what’s the harm?”
Other people take the stance that they paid for the land and its upkeep. If others want the same advantages, let them buy their own land and their own mattresses! They may put up ban lines or security orbs to keep intruders out.
What almost everyone agrees on is that if the homeowner comes home and catches you, he’s perfectly justified in ejecting and banning you – especially if you are engaged in intimate activities with a friend, and most especially if you are snotty about it.
What should you do if you find yourself facing an irate homeowner? BE POLITE. You are the intruder, and you are in the wrong. I don’t recommend simply running away. If you do, the owner is likely to ban you in absentia and you’ll find yourself unable to visit that spot again. Say something nice to the owner, like “I saw your beautiful home and couldn’t resist coming in to look around. Please excuse me for intruding, I’ll be on my way.”
If you do go snooping in people’s homes, please leave things the way you found them. Put away the poseballs. If you have rezzed any objects, take them with you.