Why you should rent instead of own in Second LifeThere's lots of reasons to be in Second Life. Most people are there for casual reasons, though. And if you're not fully dedicated to being inworld (a casual user), you have no reason to upgrade to a Premium account. (If you want to for some other reason, that's fine, but...)
If you've logged in recently, you've probably been barraged by the Lindens wanting you to upgrade your account to a premium one (I know that I have...). As someone who runs a skybox rental business (the actual ad is over to the right there), I've been asked by other Residents what the advantages are of renting over getting a premium account and just buying their own land.
Here's a few:
Premium accounts can be more expensive than renting. For example, someone paying monthly (USD$9.95) is paying L$629 a week for the privelege of being able to buy land. I rent skyboxes with the same amount of space (512m sq) and nearly as many prims (100 instead of 115) for only L$250 a week. (Tutorial about prims here.)
"But what about the stipend?" What about it? So you get L$300 a week. If you save your stipend and move it into Paypal to offset your subscription fee, you're still paying L$329 a week for what I offer for L$250. And that's not counting transaction fees and currency fluctuations - they can add up pretty quickly when you're working with small amounts of money.
And on top of that, wouldn't you end up spending that stipend pretty quickly on other things? I don't know about you, but L$300 doesn't go very far when you're an active resident... so assuming that someone is going to save all of their stipend to offset subscription fees doesn't sound quite right. When you take the stipend out of the picture, even the cheapest subscription model (the yearly one) costs L$379 a week.
Renting lets you have flexibility. You aren't stuck with a parcel - you can just up and move whenever you feel like it. Maybe you don't want to pay an annual fee to Linden Labs - just what you can, when you can. Renting lets you spread that cost out quite a bit throughout the year. I also have a friend who has rented from me when they have the money... but doesn't when times are tight.
Renting means I take care of it for you. Don't know how to set up security? A radio? It's already done for you. There's no requirement to be social among my tenants, but I've struck up lasting friendships with quite a few. We've looked out for each other and taken care of people when they needed it.
You're not really losing prims. I do offer a few parcels of "floating land" where you can build whatever you want, and I've had people park a house on top of a skybox before! Because of the design of my skyboxes, you're getting nearly as many prims as you would be anyway (512 parcels offer 117; I offer 100 for my L$250 skyboxes.)
Interested? You can stop by my rental office and see what's available right here. If you're worried about the power of your computer (because Second Life can be taxing to your PC), the Rainbow Netbook Viewer does a pretty good job... well, even on netbooks.