Step Two: Do the math. I priced land as best as I was able. It’s a complicated… no, land prices in Second Life are bloody bewildering. Two side-by-side parcels might be offered for hugely different prices. I still don’t “get” it – so as I got started, I rented from a few trusted landlords. It also means that I didn’t need to worry about figuring out tier or premium memberships, which keeps the math simple for me. It DOES add in a factor of uncertainty – because someone else could screw me over.
As a result of doing the math further, now that I know there’s demand for this, I have recently upgraded to a premium membership and bought some land. The tier costs come out to a bit less than I was paying in Estate rent. The key here is to convert everything to one unit. For example, Premium memberships (annually) cost US$6 a month. Right now, that’s approximately L$1500. But it also comes with a L$300/week stipend – so the net cost is L$300 a month. Now I can add that in to the rest of my calculations.
The plots I’ve been using are 4096m^2 – that’s about 64m on a side. That size TENDS to come with about 900 prims.
So here’s where you figure out the math. I made a test build of the skybox (I originally started with a mod of the “Daisy” freebie home) with all the doors, windows, security, and rental box. I counted the prims, and added however many I wanted to give the tenant. Then multiplied to see how many I could fit on the plot. Took my monthly rent for the plot, added a margin, divided by the number of skyboxes, divided by four, and came up with a weekly rent.
So for example – let’s say you’re paying L$8K a month for a plot like I described above. (This is a slightly high rent for commercial use of Estate land, but not by much.) You have a 10-prim skybox model that’s simple as dirt but has doors and security and a rental box. You could then put 9 of those on your plot, and give 90 prims per tenant. (You want to leave a little leeway for the rude idiot who goes overprim until you can fix ’em.) For the sake of convenience, you want to make L$1K a month if all the boxes are full, so you take ((L$9000 / 9) / 4). That leaves you with L$250 a week per skybox.
Observant readers will have noticed that’s the rent I charge – but I have a lot smaller margin, larger and nicer skyboxes, and more prims for the tenant. There are rarely 1:1 comparisons among renting apartments and skyboxes, but spend a few hours looking at all the offerings and you’ll get a rough ballpark figure.
One thing I forgot – especially as I started up, I did not have full tenancy all the time. Still don’t, because there is turnover. You will continue to sink money into your operation after the startup costs. Be prepared.