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Yeah, multiplayer is pretty much crap right now. But I think its mainly due to new players not knowing how to play and having to restart several times instead of being dedicated.
Your best bet is to start a new game and claim 3-4 cities next to each other, then work with yourself for water/power/sewage/etc. That's what I did, and I'm having much more fun since I have more control over what resources get shared.