In the beginning, there was Mainland. Mainland consists of regions that are owned and managed by Linden Lab. There are several Mainland "continents", from Jeogeot in the south to Gaeta in the north. Plus the all-Adult continent of Zindra, far, far to the east, and the Nacera Linden Homes continents to the far south. Except for Zindra, all Mainland is rated either General or Moderate, with the vast majority of regions being Moderate. (Don't worry too much about continent names, by the way. Almost nobody uses them. What's really important is the region name.)
Mainland generally has a less cohesive "feel" to it than do private estates. This is because LL takes a very "hands off" management approach. There are no set themes or building requirements, only the Terms of Service and Community Standards. Thus, you may see a modern glass-and-steel tower built next door to a run-down old barn. Scruffy pirate ships rub scuppers with gleaming mega-yachts. Stunning, detailed, well-planned builds are next door to a couple of plywood prims tossed on the ground. Mainland also often appears to be "cut up", with many little parcels all at different levels. This is because a limited amount of terraforming is allowed (generally, +/- 4 meters). Because of all the different parcel owners, a region can come to resemble one of those terrace-farmed mountain villages.
But not all Mainland looks like a used car lot or a battleground. There are many Mainland areas that are very lovely. I like Mainland, and live there (in the Masocado region, bordering the Blake Sea). I like the "spacious" feeling you get by putting many regions together. On many private estates, one must teleport to go anywhere outside one's own home region, because the regions don't share common borders. You can walk, fly, or sail a long way on the Mainland and its surrounding waters (subject to the hazards of ban lines, security orbs, and sim boundary crossings, of course.) Yes, I know that I could live halfway across the grid, and yet teleport to the Blake Sea to go sailing with a simple mouse click. But it doesn't feel the same, emotionally, as actually living there and keeping my boat at the dock.
Mainland is still the cheapest place to live in SL. This is because tier for a full Mainland region is $195 USD per month, while the monthly fee on a private region is $295 per month (with the exception of older "grandfathered" private estates, which are also at the $195 per month level). In addition, Linden Lab gives you the first 512 square meters for zero tier.
The minimum cost to live on the Mainland is a Premium membership. As we discussed last time, this entitles you to a free Linden Home. But, if you want more flexibility, you can abandon your Linden Home (stand in the home, open the About Land window, click Abandon). Then find another Mainland parcel.
There are three ways to buy a Mainland parcel.
1. Auction. Linden Lab auctions off land that they hold, on the Land Auctions part of the Second Life website, http://usd.auctions.secondlife.com/. These auctions work like eBay auctions and can be in $L for smaller parcels or $USD for larger ones. I don't recommend buying land with this method. You always pay top dollar, by definition. Also, very few parcels are sold through this method.
2. Buy Abandoned Land from LL. Because of LL's policies of the last year or so, there is a lot of mainland that people have simply abandoned and let go back to "Governor Linden". You may see a parcel that is for sale with the description, "Abandoned Land - For Sale". All such land may be purchased for only $L1 per square meter. The downside is that most abandoned land isn't particularly desirable...it's not waterfront, for example. Still, this is a very inexpensive way to buy land!
3. Buy Mainland from another resident. This is by far the most common way to purchase Mainland. Prices may run from as little as $L1 per m2 up to $L12-15 per m2 for protected waterfront, and up to really ridiculous prices like $L100 per m2 for "special" themed areas like Bay City or Nautilus City.
How do you find your ideal piece of land? There are several ways.
- You can use the main Map in world. Just check the "Land Sale" box in the map legend and look for yellow parcels (or purple ones, which are either coming up for auction or in an active auction). Teleport to interesting looking parcels and have a look around.
Mainland on the Marketplace
Private Estates on the Marketplace
Before buying the land, check it out thoroughly. Turn on property line visibility with World/Show More/Property Lines. See who owns the adjoining parcels. Check the performance statistics of the region with CTRL+SHIFT+1. Fly up and check the sky at several levels. Many skyboxes can't be seen from the ground. Check your radar or mini-map to find large groups of avatars...there may be a laggy club in the region. If the parcel is waterfront, who owns the water in the adjoining parcel? If it's "Governor Linden", you are on valuable "protected" waterfront. If another resident is the owner, they can block your water access by building or terraforming.
That's all for today...We'll look at Private Estates in Part 3!