You remember what it was like when you joined Second Life … how it took up all of your spare time for a couple of weeks at least; how you told a couple of people at work about it, and they just looked at you as if you had fallen off the back of a truck. You loved this new exciting world, and you couldn’t get enough of it.
But, then, you realized that everything you really liked doing – dressing like a Hollywood star, living in a mansion – all cost Lindens (L$), which despite a 255-270L$/USD exchange rate, still cost a lot of money for what you wanted to do.
So … you were at a loss. If you were (or still are) a natural cheapskate like me, you found it difficult to justify spending $50, $75, $200-$300/month in a virtual world living like the Crown Prince of Monaco, regardless of whether you could afford it or not.
You started looking for things to do … things you were talented at that you could make or sell for cold hard cash. No one would think you were desperate (and you may not have been), because creativity is highly valued in Second Life. Creators are king; more popular even than many of our DJs.
Then you realized that sleeping through High School art class was really cramping you out now. What could you possibly do that wasn’t connected to 3D modeling or *Sign of the Cross* … scripting? There was only one other arena … entertainment/adult entertainment, and things weren’t necessarily looking up for you there. When your DJ bestie started talking about streaming subscriptions and live mixing, your mind turned to mush. You may have a decent singing voice, but stage fright has always kept you from moonlighting at the country club.
Eventually, you found a space somewhere as a club host or dancer, or managing someone else’s properties, and while it may not have exactly provided you that virtual Life of Riley, you realized it could provide you a decent sized parcel for you and your family (or your hookups), plus some decent cash left over for an outfit or two a week. You did the math in your head, and the economic Puritan in you reveled at the thought of living in SL on other people’s money rather than spending any of your own … though it meant the end of your private sim and endless fatpacks if and when you finally decided to pull the lever and downsize.
So … what is that magic amount? I’ve thought about this a lot: I’ve only wanted to spend what I could earn inside, and having to buy a single linden made me feel the same way I used to feel using cheat codes on The Sims. It was almost like breaking the rules!
Lets go to the drawing board! So, if this involves working, most people aren’t able to replicate a 40 hour week inside, or if they are, they’d really rather spend that time doing other things. But, if we drive ourselves to it, we can generally work a couple of evenings a week for other people without it feeling like the Orcs of Mordor. Most club work falls in two-hour increments, and since doubling that would mean us working somewhere four hours a week, we can get away with calling this a typical work week for most people in SL (who have jobs and lives outside of this world – no shade).
So, if you’re working four hours a week, what are you hoping to be able to buy? At least one week of rent, and at least enough cash for a full mesh outfit per week … and maybe a little left over for event tipping. With cheap rental land at 0.95 to 1.50 prims per linden, you’re likely going to settle for something hidden away on a nondescript sim that gives you about 1000 land impact (prims) for about $1000L per week. And since a new outfit can easily cost the same (with accessories, and not buying a fatpack), your wardrobe expense can be about the same. Not adding any allowance for tips (hey, you can do that the week you decided you didn’t wanna shop), a minimum survival/comfort budget in Second Life is easily L$2,000/wk.
If you’re only willing to work about 4-6 hours a week in SL, the math is rather simple. For the lessor, you have to find something that will pay you about 500$L per hour. If you’re willing to push your productive time in-world to 6 hours a week, you’re gonna have to find something that easily pays you about $350/hr.
Income like this is not foreign in SL’s club environment – depending on the club, and how popular it is, or depending on how much of “you” you want to put on the market. If you’re super creative, it means you only have to sell enough items a week to make the same in Marketplace (more if you have an inworld store).
Market forces are alive and well on our flat planet that the news media forgot. And in doing so, it has set a living/minimum wage at about 350-500$L per work hour/ per week. Obviously, there are people whose real life circumstances give them more time (or who don’t have the same mental hang-ups as I have about buying Linden) … but overall, it can be relatively easy to work, live, and play without killing yourself in a way that also allows you to keep up with the virtual fashionistas … to some degree.
Now … we need to start thinking about virtual social security!
What do you think? What do you think is the minimum amount you could live comfortably in Second Life?