SimCity Newbie Mayor's Strategy Guide - Page 2

Updated Mon, Mar 11, 2013 by Shayalyn

SimCity Newbie Mayor's Strategy Guide

Building Roads

It’s tempting to just start laying down roads randomly, but a little forethought and planning will save you some headaches later on.

  • Your first point of business as a new mayor will be to build a road connecting your proposed city with the outside world. There are two different types of roads: Streets and Avenues. You’ll probably want to connect your city to the main highway using the least expensive Avenue (medium density) to handle more traffic. Although roads are upgradeable, you can’t upgrade a Street to an Avenue without deleting the street entirely...which also destroys any houses, businesses or factories along that street.

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    The roads menu.

  • Be careful as you’re building roads; there’s no undo function and the only way to delete a road you’ve created is by bulldozing it, which wastes your precious simoleons (money). If you’ve drawn a road you don’t like, you can undo it before it’s completed by pressing the Esc key before you release the left mouse button.
  • You can start building roads around your residential and industrial areas with the cheapest streets possible--low density dirt roads. As you progress through the game, you’ll be upgrading your roads, but until you’ve established your utilities and balanced your budget, you don’t want to go on a spending spree.
  • Avoid urban sprawl! In other words, don’t spread out early on. It’s expensive to build roads and, at least while you’re founding your little city, it’s best to keep it small and compact.
  • Your area’s population density will increase as you upgrade your roads, so upgrade carefully lest you have a population boom that you didn’t expect. Commercial businesses upgrading can cause a shortage in shoppers, and industrial upgrades can cause a shortage in workers.
  • Adding parks and other things your sims love, such as a mayor's house in a residential area, or a City Hall in a business area, will increase happiness and cause your sims to upgrade to a higher wealth bracket. Movin' on up!

  • SimCity Strategy Guide

    Plopping parks makes sims happy. See? They're already building new abodes!

  • Check your Data Maps as you’re building so you know the best places to put certain things in your city. For instance, you want to make certain that your factories are in a part of town where the wind is carried away from the residential area, lest air pollution creep in to make your population unhealthy. You’ll also want to know where resource areas lie so that you can plop things like water towers in places where the water table is high, and reserve other resource-rich spots for things like mines.
  • It’s good to check out the specialization menu early on to get an idea of what your city might specialize in. The location description when you picked your city area might have already given you some clues by pointing out that you have large deposits of oil or coal, or a great location for tourism. As you’re creating roads, you’ll want to leave plenty of space to add specialization buildings later on. Plan on adding a bunch of casinos? Make sure you have room for them, as well as room for mass transit that will bring lots of tourists to your gambling hotspots.
  • Leave space around city services that are likely to spread out. A clinic, for instance, will need room to expand its waiting rooms and ambulance bays. A school will eventually need to add more classrooms. Your starter Town Hall will expand as your city grows, as well, so give it plenty of space as you build roads and zone other buildings around it.
  • While the game gives you plenty of options for building things like curvy and even circular roads, it’s easiest to start out with rectangular blocks. The game will suggest guides for road placement to help you make the best use of space. Until you’re a skilled city builder, you’ll do well to stick to them.

Zoning: People and Places

Once you’ve got a road or two, it’s time to bring in the people and give them places to shop and work. That’s what zoning is all about. Getting the balance just right can be a challenge, but it’s also half the fun.

  • You’ll see the term RCI used a lot in SimCity. It stands for the three types of zones: Residential, Commercial and Industrial. (Now, when the game prompts you to “zone RCI,” you’ll know what that means.)
  • Your first zone will be residential--a city can’t function without people. You’ll designate spaces along streets for residential housing. If you’re building streets in blocks, three blocks seems to be a good starting point for a residential area.
  • Once you’ve given your sims places to live, they’ll need places to work and shop. Start small. Zone a section of a street for commercial shops, and perhaps one block for industrial factories.
  • When you open the zone menu, you’ll see indicators showing you the residential (green), commercial (blue) and industrial (yellow) demand for low, medium and high wealth areas. Keep an eye on these indicators to figure out when you need to zone more of a certain type. Remember, though, that the zone demand meters don’t account for buildings under construction, so wait until your buildings have been completed before checking demand and zoning for more.
  • If you don’t want an area’s housing density to expand, but you do want the street density to allow for more traffic, you can de-zone an area. For instance, say you have some residential houses that you don’t want to grow into the mega apartment complexes that come with a high density area. You can remove the residential zone beneath the existing houses. The houses will remain, and they won’t expand into apartments when you update the streets. This can be handy for managing traffic while keeping your population from expanding too quickly.

  • SimCity Strategy Guide

    Dezoning areas will keep population density from expanding even if you upgrade road density.

  • Resist the urge to grow too fast! I can’t stress this enough. It’s tempting to keep building and expanding rapidly, but you’ll find that growth comes with associated headaches you may not have the funds to deal with such as an increased need for power, water, sewage treatment, and services. All services come with an hourly upkeep price tag, and adding them too quickly is a sure way to bankrupt your city before it even gets going. If you want to enjoy your city long enough to see your first skyscrapers appear on the skyline, then steady as she goes.


We’ve gathered eight tips to help you understand the new SimCity and make your way from Mayoral neophyte to Mayor in Chief. So get your officially sanctioned sash and top hat and let’s get to work on making some of the biggest and best cities in the history of the new SimCity.

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