I recently got a call from an inexperienced land owner. She'd bought a parcel to add to her existing land, and the total area came to 8960 square meters. But she was very upset, because her tier payment had jumped from $40 per month to $75. That was more than she felt she could afford...but she didn't want to give up the extra prims that the larger piece of land gave her.
I explained that the tier jump in this case happened at 8192 square meters. You can own that much mainland for $40 per month...but one square meter over puts you in the next tier "bracket" of $75. But, I went on, there was a solution that could let her own the whole 8960 square meters and still pay only $40 per month...give the land to a group.
Groups get a 10% break on mainland ownership -- a group can own 10% more land than an individual for the same amount of tier. So in her case, my friend could own, through a group, up to 8192+819 = 9011 square meters. Here's how to do that:
1. Create a group to hold the land. This costs $L100, and requires at least one other member in the group. The second member has 48 hours to join the group; otherwise, the group is automatically disbanded. I suggest that you use an alt, a second Second Life account, for this purpose. Using a friend can create problems, if you should have a falling out, or if your friend decides to leave the group. (You don't have to create a new group for this purpose; any group can hold land. But I prefer to have a dedicated group for this purpose to avoid complications. Also, your alt does not have to be a Premium member.)
2. With your new group active, go to your land and right click the ground and open the About Land window. In the General tab of About Land, select Deed to Group, and also check the Owner Makes Contribution With Deed box. Check to make sure that the land now shows as being owned by your group. CAUTION: The group you have active at the moment you deed the land is the group that will wind up owning it. BE CERTAIN that the group you made to hold the land is your active group! A mistake cannot be undone, except by the owner of the group you deeded the land to.
3. Open your group information window. Click the Land and $L tab. Check that you are contributing (in this case) no more than 8192 m2 of tier to the group. Check to see that the group's land holdings show the parcel you just deeded. And check to make sure that the group has enough tier in donations to cover that size parcel.
Because the 10% bonus is automatically calculated, the group's available tier will be larger than the amount you donated. You can "tweak" your donation so that the group has "just enough" tier to cover its deeded land.
4. Go to your account page on the Second Life website. Open the Land Manager link. Check to see that a) you do not own any land (you deeded it, the group owns it now, not you); and that b) your tier donation is in the proper bracket (in this case, $40 a month for 8192 m2). If things look awry, go back over the numbers in the group Land and $L tab carefully to find your error.
Note that the only time you can take advantage of this group tier break is if the amount of land you want to own is less than 10% over the tier level you want to stay within. If not, the bonus won't get you back "under the line" and you'll still wind up paying the higher amount.
One more caution: If your group does have other members (your tenants, for example, if you are renting your land to others), be sure to review the group's roles and abilities carefully. You don't want your tenants to have the ability to sell your land, and if YOU sell your land, you don't want the other group members to share in the proceeds.