FAQ/Strategy Guide by super_luigi16

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    FAQ/Strategy Guide by super_luigi16

    Version: 1.52 | Updated: 09/12/13 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Getting Started (Continued)


    Water is the second most important service; while it used to allow higher densities in previous games, Water now serves as an essential service for nearly all buildings--services included. Even advanced power plants will need water. Hence, when you're first starting out, be sure to also plant a Water Tower or two before you start to build your city.

    The Water Map

    Water can be somewhat finicky when in short supply, so your main goal should be to keep the water above that iffy "yellow" threshold. Like power, the water layer is pretty much useless; it's the water menu--which gives you your current water status--that really helps and advises you. Furthermore, your water advisor should keep you on track in times of duress.

    However, while the actual water layer may be of no use whatsoever, the water resource map is extremely useful. In this game, water is a finite resource, and you have to go where the water is. You can't simply place a water pump on the ground and expect hundreds of gallons of fresh spring water to come gushing up; rather, you have to place your pumps on deposits of water. Also, over time, your pump will eat up the water in this area, and will have to be moved elsewhere. Luckily, it will usually take a fair amount of time before the water is exhausted in a particular spot. Follow the water!

    Water Towers

    NameCostPump RateMaintenance
    Water Tower35006kgal/hr100/hr

    An example of (two) Water Towers.

    Water Towers are your starting point for water. They produce a fair amount of water, but they by no means will quench the water appetite for a larger city. Nevertheless, Water Towers are what you have to start with. They're small and don't require many workers, so place them in a spot where there's water. Other than that, there really isn't much more maintenance. Just make sure they have power, and your Water Tower should hum along. Place more as necessary.

    Water Pumping Station

    NameCostPump RateMaintenance
    Water Pumping Station4400080kgal/hr400/hr
    Basic Water Pump3000080kgal/hr200/hr
    Filtration Pump6000080kgal/hr400/hr

    An example of a fully expanded Water Pumping Station

    Water Pumping Stations are necessary for larger cities. Unfortunately, you must unlock them with the Department of Utilities. Yes, you must. Once you get the Water Pumping Station, you'll want to place it in vice of your next Water Tower as the Pumping Station will basically make your other Water Towers obsolete. Let's talk more about placement.

    Water is a finite resource as I mentioned above. Well, unlock other finite resources, you go through water really, really quickly. Hence, you want to place your Water Pumping Station in the middle of an area where there is LOADS of water. You will likely have to move it anyways. Regardless, expand as necessary along the side and to the back (make sure you have room in the first place). You can generate an absolutely massive amount of water with this pump.

    Water Pollution

    This wasn't touched on earlier, so I wanted to cover it in this section, considering the Water Pumping Station is the only method to reduce this type of pollution. Many air polluters also drop pollutants into your water supply--buildings like factories and mines are notorious for contaminating the water supply. However, you can solve this by adding Filtration Pumps to your Water Pumping Station. While this is an option, I do not recommend it; it's much easier to plop your Water Pumping Station on a site where there is no pollution than it is to spend 60000 on a Filtration Pump. Just be smart about your zoning--it's a much better alternative.

    The Water Glitch

    Note that if you place a Water Pumping Station near a Sewage Treatment Plant (see below), you can capitalize on the infinite water glitch. Sewage Treatment Plants establish an infinite water base that your Water Pumping Station--expanded with Filtration Pumps--can take advantage of. Use this trick for drier cities.


    Sewage is the last of the so-called essential services. While Sewage doesn't seem all that necessary, it will cripple your city if you do not address your city's toilet-flushing priorities. Sewage frankly is not as vital as the prior two services, but it is a must-have for any city that wants to exceed 500 residents.


    Sewage appears as big brown dots on the sewage map. I have no idea what they represent, but, um, I'll leave that to your imagination. The sewage will flow to the desired treatment plant, outflow pipe, or neighboring city, as demonstrated in the image below. Sewage is easily monitored, and, if it becomes a problem, you have plenty of time to address it before it becomes a major problem. Sewage causes all sorts of pollution and germs, as you can guess--deal with it before you even consider implementing Non-Essential Services.

    Sewage! Grooooosssssssssss...

    Sewage Outflow Pipe

    NameCostSewage Flow RateGround Pollution RateMaintenance
    Sewage Outflow Pipe350011.7kgal/hr120000ppm/hr100/hr

    An example of a Sewage Outflow Pipe.

    Okay, these buildings are the WORST. I'm serious. While they're the immediate solution to sewage problems, they are just not good for your city AT ALL. Guess what they do with the sewage--dump it. Yep, that's why it's an "outflow" pipe: "out" onto the city exposed by the pipe. Sewage Outflow Pipes contaminate the ground around them, create intense water pollution, and are altogether unsightly.

    Nevertheless...you need them. For a while, at least. You'll want to place them as far away from, uh, anything as possible. Once you get the next sewage building, remove these as quickly as possible and transition to that sewage disposal device. Ick.

    Sewage Treatment Plant

    NameCostSewage Treatment RateSewage Flow RateMaintenance
    Sewage Treatment Plant6400052.5kgal/hr70.5kgal/hr400/hr
    NameCostSewage Flow RateSewage Flow RateMaintenance
    Sewage Treatment Tank4000052.5kgal/hrN/A200/hr

    An example of a (small) Sewage Treatment Plant

    This is a much more sightly way to deal with a frankly unsightly problem. These guys are absolutely necessary for larger cities; again, unfortunately you need the Department of Utilities to place them. They are the best option for eliminating sewage because they treat the problem rather than dumping the problem. Furthermore, they can be expanded! You'll still want to place Sewage Treatment Plants as far away from Residential and Commercial as possible. They are a NIMBY, and they are ghastly to live near. Make sure to leave them room to expand.

    The Water Glitch

    Sewage Treatment Plants inadvertently generate water for the Water Layer. See the above section--Water--for more on how to take advantage of this glitch.

    Making Money 101

    Due to popular demand before the writing of this guide, I've decided to throw this section in . While it likely won't be anything revolutionary, I'm going to give you some basic tips when you're starting out that will help you make it through the first stages of city development. Although I won't be giving any truly revolutionary, game-breaking advice, I will help you get from the red to the black so you can earn some green. If you're specializing, this will likely be the only time your city is technically in the black, so let's make the most of it!

    Come Up With a (Solid) Plan

    I don't know how many times I've started a city only to find myself drowning in debt because I didn't know what the hell I was doing. Seriously. Before you even claim that city, figure out what you want to do with it. Consult others in the region if you're playing multiplayer. Determine if you want to specialize in coal, or if you want to specialize in oil, or if you're in charge of providing services (in which case, good luck), or if you're trying to build a tourist destination. There are endless options--you just need to know what you're going to do!

    When you put a goal in your mind, you set yourself up for success. You know what you're doing. However, you should also make sure your goal will generate revenue. Trying to provide all of the services to your neighbors will not work unless you receive significant compensation. Trying to capitalize on a tiny stash of coal will not work in the long term. Think about the feasibility of your plan--use common sense.

    The Initial Investment

    Usually, starting out is not too difficult. Hell, you have $50000! What could go wrong?

    Well, a lot of things, to be honest. You need to invest your money wisely when you're first starting out. You can't just spend $27000 on an Oil Power Plant--that's more than half of your money! Start off with a smarter investment; for instance, a Coal or Wind Power Plant. They're cheaper in the short term. Also, only use the cheaper roads for each type: medium-density avenues and low-density streets. Yes, avenues are necessary, and they are a good investment; otherwise, you'll end up destroying previous roads, costing more money (and potential revenue!). Finally, even if you have access to the Water Pumping Station and Sewage Treatment Plant, rely on either neighbor trades or the basic provider of the two services. They're cheaper in the short run, and that's all that is important at the start. Feel free to use ONE bond if you're strapped for cash due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., landform adaptations), but do not exceed one bond. Leave yourself some emergency cash, if necessary.

    Get Your Profits Up

    The biggest problem when starting your city is that you have no revenue. Well, how do you get revenue? Taxes! How do you collect taxes? RCI! Thus, you'll want to zone as much as possible when you're first starting out. This means you'll need an extensive road network as you're starting out, and, realistically, that road network should bear the brunt of your initial investments. Before you even start your city, you should have about half of the land size zoned up. Before you move onto City-Building, nearly all of your area should be filled up.

    Try to keep your zones growing by zoning roughly equal proportions of Residential and Industry/Commercial combined. This should maximize growth. Try to make sure there is as little wasted space as possible--see above.

    Keep Your Expenditures Down (For Now)

    Any services or expenditures that have not been covered in this section (i.e., PWS, roads, etc.) should not be in your city. Yes, that means no police, no firefighter, no healthcare, no parks, and no anything else that is nonvital. This should allow your profit to skyrocket, giving you capital to invest in these services later. Even road upgrades should be kept to a minimum unless you know that zone will increase in density immediately thereafter. This is the key advice that newbies tend to skimp out on: they try to give every service right as you start. Don't. I can totally understand where you're coming from; when I played SimCity 3000 as a kid, all I wanted were Zoos and Colleges because I thought they were cool. Yes, they are cool. But they can wait. Hold off until you have more money.

    Start Your City Specialization

    See City Specialization. Keep your investments to a minimum and bloat your profits to a maximum.


    A good benchmark to be moving onto this section is when you're making more than 5000/hr in profit (through any means possible) or you have more than 15000 in population.

    So now you've got a city--good job! This is the point when you start building Non-Essential Services, start expanding your City Specialization operations, finish up your Advanced Transportation Network, and start raking in the dough via Specialization. This section is intended to take you from an emerging city to a power player in the region and beyond. Note that there is no more guidance about building your city beyond what is in this section.

    Let me explain what is in this section. Firstly, I'll cover Non-Essential Services. If you've been reading thus far, I've been alluding to this section a lot and rightly so. I cover seven services in this section. Seven. Each section covers the general stuff that this service will provide, relationships with other zones, buildings, and factors, and the specifics of each building that provides this service. Do note that adaptations will be made because each service is very different.

    Next, I'll move onto your Transportation. This section includes the in-game Mass Transportation as this wasn't covered in the previous Non-Essential Services section. Furthermore, I'll briefly cover dealing with traffic problems and comprehensive road upgrades. Mass Transportation coverage will be extensive, though.

    Finally, I'll move onto Making Money 201. This is your follow-up on the first crash course, and will primarily concern managing the bloated expenditures of all of those Non-Essential Services (and especially the larger versions thereof). Let me just say that City Specialization will play a huge role, especially later on in your city's development.

    Non-Essential Services

    Again, let me make the distinction between non-essential and Essential Services: these services enumerated below are not required for your city's survival. They are required for the realization of your city's potential. So, without further ado, I present to you the following services:


    In this section, I will cover seven services: Government, Garbage, Fire, Health, Police, Education, and Parks. All of these services have their quirks and usefulness, and I will attempt to adapt each of these sections to reflect their differences. Furthermore, much of this section is built around guiding you through the process of enacting these services: from small, emerging city to large, bustling city. However, with SimCity being a simulation game, I cannot possibly cover all possible scenarios. You must be ready to adapt!


    The "Government" in your city basically consists of one "serious" building and two "fun" buildings. And, while your Government buildings may not directly provide a service to your denizens, it is the most important Non-Essential Service because it aids the other services. Basically, with your town/city hall expansions, you can unlock new buildings for your other services, allowing them to truly thrive in your city. Hence, this section will realistically only cover the buildings as that's all that pertains to your government.

    Town Hall

    Town Hall0200/hr
    Department of Education15000500/hr
    Department of Finance15000500/hr
    Department of Safety15000500/hr
    Department of Tourism15000500/hr
    Department of Transportation15000500/hr
    Department of Utilities15000500/hr
    SimCopter One6000500/hr
    NumberPopulation Needed

    An example City Hall

    As you can see, the City Hall is the most complex building you've encountered thus far. Not only does it have Expansions, but it also has Upgrades that allow you place said Expansions! By the way, the name of this building does switch from "Town" to "City" Hall when your city reaches a certain amount of residences--I tend to refer to it as a City Hall because we all have cities, right? :)

    Anyway, so the main goal with your City Hall is to get it to (a) upgrade and then (b) expand. This is actually pretty difficult, especially once you reach upgrades four and five. If you reach expansion five, you have mastered this game and you no longer need to read this guide. Just kidding! So each Department unlocks a slew of new buildings, and I've compiled these into a list below:

    • Department of Education
      • High School
      • University
    • Department of Finance
      • Ability to tax different brackets
    • Department of Safety
      • Large Fire Station
      • Hospital
      • Police Precinct
    • Department of Tourism
      • Some Nature ($$) buildings
      • Some Formal ($$$) buildings
      • All Culture landmarks
      • Pro Stadium
    • Department of Transportation
      • Streetcars
      • Trains
      • Bus Terminal
      • Boats
      • Planes
    • Department of Utilities
      • Solar Power Plant
      • Nuclear Power Plant
      • Water Pumping Station
      • Sewage Treatment Plant
      • Recycling Center

    My recommendation is that you expand in the following order in your first city: (1) Department of Utilities, (2) Department of Safety, (3) Department of Transportation, (4) Department of Education, (5) Department of Tourism, and (6) Department of Finance. However, if you're focusing on high-tech industries/electronics, bump Education up a spot or two; the same applies to tourism if you're specializing on culture/commercial. If you have multiple cities in the region, diversify with regards to the Departments because Department approvals are shared throughout the region. Sharing is caring, in this instance.

    Mayor's House

    Mayor's House0100/hr

    An example of a Mayor's House

    The Mayor's House is largely a token building; it does happen to raise nearby land value to medium-wealth, but it does absolutely nothing else. Place it in a neighborhood you want to bring up to medium-wealth and leave it be afterwards. You can turn it off if you're strapped for funds, but it only costs 100/hr.

    Mayor's Mansion

    Mayor's Mansion30000100/hr
    Mayor's BBQ Patio100010/hr
    Circular Fountain100010/hr
    Mayor's Statue10000/hr
    Guest House100010/hr
    Guard Post100010/hr
    Sports Car Garage100010/hr
    Extension Wing100010/hr
    Limo Garage100010/hr
    Tennis Court100010/hr
    Swimming Pool100010/hr
    Lookout Tower100010/hr
    Party Wing100010/hr
    SimCopter One60000/hr
    NumberApproval Rating
    #175% for 6 hours
    #275% for 6 hours
    #375% for 6 hours
    #475% for 6 hours
    #580% for 8 hours
    #680% for 8 hours
    #780% for 8 hours
    #880% for 8 hours
    #985% for 10 hours
    #1085% for 10 hours
    #1185% for 10 hours
    #1285% for 10 hours
    #1390% for 12 hours
    #1490% for 12 hours
    #1590% for 12 hours
    #1690% for 12 hours

    An example Mayor's Mansion that has nothing on it.

    The Mayor's Mansion is the other "toy" government building. It will also raise the land value of surrounding buildings, but you may want to leave some empty room--you can expand your mansion with all sorts of extra toys, if you have a sufficiently high approval rating. Do what you want with your Mayor's Mansion since it really provides no other function.

    By the way, every upgrade allows you to place another expansion in the quartets. The first four upgrades correspond to the first four expansions and so on.


    In my opinion, Garbage should be an Essential Service. Unfortunately for your Sims, it's not. While Garbage needs do tend to crop up relatively early, they do not make or break the development of your city. Luckily, there are some relatively easy ways to deal with garbage, and it can be destroyed rather than dumped. Furthermore, there are two aspects to garbage collection: trash cans and recycling. Regular, old trash can be sent to your dump to be incinerated or dumped; recyclables can be sent to a recycling center to be converted into usable metal, alloy, or plastic. These goods can then be used by your City Specialization buildings or sold to the open market with a Trade Depot. Dealing with Garbage is much more painless this time around.

    The Garbage Layer

    The Garbage Layer isn't all that useful; it only tells you the current layout of what garbage needs to be collected. See the map below for more on that. However, the garbage menu will tell you how many garbage and recycling cans are actually being collected every day; this is very useful for determining whether to upgrade your current garbage dump, or leave it be.

    The Garbage Layer.

    Garbage Dump

    NameCostWaste CapacityPollution RateMaintenance
    Garbage Dump900070tons7000ppm/hr300/hr
    NameCostWaste CapacityPollution RateMaintenance
    Service Road0N/AN/A0
    Garbage Truck Garage50005tons/vehicleN/A100/hr
    Dump Zone070tons3500ppm/hr0
    Garbage Incinerator250001.5tons/hrHigh300/hr

    An example Garbage Dump

    You need a garbage dump somewhere in your region; fortunately, there's an easy way to deal with your trash needs. Incinerators. Rather than dumping your ground-polluting garbage, you can just burn it into the air at a high air-polluting rate (which is preferable because the garbage doesn't accumulate). Also, you'll want to make sure to have plenty of Garbage Truck Dumps because there's bound to be a lot of garbage in your city.

    Place your Garbage Dump in a corner of your city that is secluded from the rest of the residents or business; make sure that the wind is blowing the pollution to some other city rather than into your neighborhoods (cue maniacal laugh). You'll also want to leave some room to the side of your Garbage Dump building so that you can create incinerators for your mounting garbage problems. This should leave soom room for the Garbage Truck Garages between the incinerators and the road.

    Recycling Center

    NameCostWaste CapacityMaintenance
    Recycling Center11100020tons700/hr
    NameCostRecycling Production Rate/Vehicle CapacityMaintenance
    Recycling Collection Truck Garage30002 vehicles @ 3 tons/vehicle100/hr
    Reclamation Delivery Truck Garage30001 vehicle @ 5 tons/vehicle100/hr
    Alloy Reclamation Line250000.1tons/hr400/hr
    Metal Reclamation Line250000.1tons/hr400/hr
    Plastic Reclamation Line250000.1tons/hr400/hr

    An example Recycling Center (fully expanded).

    As mentioned earlier, Sims will recycle certain materials, but they will only do this if you have a Recycling Center. While it is not imperative you buy a Recycling Center, it's highly recommended you buy one once you have the funds.

    The Recycling Center, while your best garbage-collecting friend, is still a NIMBY. Hence, you'll want to place it far away from Residential. Generally, a corner of the city or amongst your Industrial is a good idea. Make sure there's plenty of room to expand to the back and to the left because you'll want to take full advantage of your Recycling Center's capabilities. Generally, I recommend placing one Assembly Line for each recyclable, though this can be adapted to cities with different needs. Also, place all of the garages you can, and send recycling trucks to neighboring cities to increase your recycling yield.


    Education plays a major role with regards to the quantity of recyclables you collect; educated Sims are more likely to recycle. Hence, it is even more recommended that you have a Recycling Center if you have a high-tech, high-education city. Check out the Education section for more, or check your Education Layer in the game.


    Fire coverage, along with Health coverage, becomes important to the growth of your city rather early (about the same time as Garbage). The need for fire coverage highly depends on what type of city you have; if you have a more industrial city, you'll have to deal with industrial fires rather often. Furthermore, an educated city is less likely to cause fires, making your fire protection job much easier. However, if you have a low-wealth, low-education, dirty-industry city, you'll have to grapple with major fire problems plaguing your city.

    Fire Coverage

    Fire is largely self-sufficient; once you plop a fire station, your firefighters should take care of the rest. Give them the appropriate tools--such as a bell and more trucks--and you should be fine. If you want to check on your firefighters' progress, check out the appropriate layer:

    The Fire Layer Map

    Relationship to TRAFFIC

    Your road network has a HUGE influence on how fast your firefighters can get to fires. Unlike real life, your fire trucks have absolutely no way to bypass a traffic jam; hence, you need to make sure that either (a) your fire station is located in an area where there is minimal traffic or (b) your city has a good transportation network. This can be especially problematic in tourist cities where there are masses of people exiting and entering the city. You need to make sure your Advanced Transportation Network is up to par. Mass transit will eliminate cars on the road and obstacles to your fire response team.

    Relationship to INDUSTRY

    Later in the game, industrial buildings can cause HazMat fires. HazMat fires are not normal fires; they can cause massive headaches for mayors of unprepared cities. HazMat fires require HazMat firefighters, which are only available as an extension for the Large Fire Station. And, while HazMat fires may start at industrial buildings, they can spread to non-industrial buildings. Hence, it's a very good idea to have a HazMat crew or two in a larger city--especially those that are heavily invested in industry.

    Relationship to EDUCATION

    Plainly put, educated Sims aren't stupid. Stupid Sims tend to cause fires. Hence, educated Sims don't cause (as many!) fires. If you educate your population, you'll have less fire problems to deal with. This also tends to go with wealth, as well; lower-wealth Sims tend to cause more fires.

    Relationship to ABANDONED BUILDINGS

    Abandoned buildings are a fire risk; because they are unkempt, they tend to be hellholes of problems. Fortunately, you can simply bulldoze abandoned buildings away, and the fire risk should be mostly eliminated. This is the easiest fire hazard to eliminate; just watch your bulldoze menu as it has a counter for rubble and abandoned buildings.

    Fire Station

    NameCostResponse TimeMaintenance
    Fire Station2000012min400/hr
    Fire Alarm30002x faster dispatching75/hr
    Fire Station Garage15000Extends coverage200/hr

    An example of a Fire Station.

    When you're first starting out, a Fire Station is the best choice for handling your city's flammability needs. It's much cheaper than the Large Fire Station, and it offers a degree of versatility. I recommend that you place the Fire Station near the epicenter of your city, so firefighters have quicker access to all parts of your city. Remember that traffic will hinder response times, so ensure that your mass transportation and/or road network cuts down on traffic. Add garages as it becomes necessary; usually one garage for every city hall upgrade. However, once your City Specialization starts making money for you, switch on over to the Large Fire Station to ensure more complete fire coverage.

    Large Fire Station

    NameCostResponse TimeMaintenance
    Large Fire Station850006min1700/hr
    Fire Dispatch Tower100002x fast dispatching525/hr
    Fire Truck Garage15000Extends coverage400/hr
    Fire Marshal Office20000Reduces risk of fire500/hr
    HazMat Garage40000HazMat fire coverage250/hr
    Fire Helipad60000Aerial coverage1400/hr

    An example of a Large Fire Station

    The Large Fire Station alone should be more than enough to handle your city. You do not need all of the extras. Really, you don't Even in large cities. Just plop the Large Fire Station, throw a few extra Garages, a Dispatch Tower, and you should be fine. You can put more bells and whistles on it if you have the money to burn, but it's realistically not necessary. However, some specialization may be required. If you have a large amount of industrial buildings, place a HazMat garage or two. If you tend to have very traffic-ridden streets, build a Helipad. It's rather common sense.


    Healthcare is one of the most complex services you can offer; there are so many factors affecting the health of your citizens, and it can be very difficult to please the health needs of large cities. The primary cause of health problems is pollution, so, if you're a polluting city skimping out on energy or industrial costs to make a quick buck, you'll pay the lion's share of health money trying to cure and rehabilitate your citizens.

    The Health Layer Maps

    There are multiple Health Layer maps to help you keep track of what's going on in your city. This is also the section where I'll take the time to discuss pollution because the most obvious impact of pollution is on the health of your citizens. Firstly, let's talk about the basic Health map; this just tells you where the injured or sick Sims are in your city, and where they're being treated. The latter isn't too useful, considering they're being treated in your hospitals. The former also isn't versatile, considering Sims get sick all of the time. Nevertheless, here's an example of this layer:

    The Health Layer. Notice the Sims being treated at the Hospital.

    A far more useful layer is the Germs layer. This layer basically allows you to make the connection between pollution and the health of your citizens. If you can keep track of the germ levels of your city, you can find ways to address it. Usually that means limiting pollution. Furthermore, you can also keep tabs on the injured and sick Sims treated per day on the health menu. Here's the Germ Layer:

    See all the germy places in the background?

    The Air Pollution Layer.

    The three major pollution maps will be addressed in succession here. The Air Pollution layer is largely helpful in identifying the heavy polluters in your city. Industry will pollute no matter what. Hence, if you can keep this pollution to a minimum, you're golden. Also, try to segregate pollution by keeping it away from Residential.

    The Ground Pollution Layer.

    Next is the ground pollution layer. Again, most industrial buildings will emit pollution, so you have to deal with it. However, there are a few buildings that will DUMP pollution onto the ground at toxic levels: the Sewage Outflow Pipe and the Garbage Dump. Try to avoid placing these buildings as they will permanently contaminate the ground below them for a very long time.

    The Radiation Layer.

    Finally, the radiation layer. Only one building emits radiation in measureable quantities, and that's the Nuclear Power Plant. However, the Nuclear Power Plant will only emit dangerous levels of radiation if you're workers are unskilled; for more on that, read up in the Power section. Radiation causes major health issues, so keep it to a minimum.

    Also, I'll make a brief mention of water pollution here. If your water is being drawn near polluting buildings, you will have contamination. This is very bad for the health of your city, considering the germs will be transmitted ubiquitously throughout the water supply. Try to keep your water away from polluting buildings, or you'll have healthcare headaches no matter what steps you take to compensate for the water pollution.

    Relationship to SPECIALIZATION

    For you coal miners out there, you're going to have to deal with a lot more injuries and sick Sims than usual. Working hazards for dangerous Specializations will increase the need for medical facilities and the strain on existing facilities; thus, you need to invest accordingly.


    NameCostPatient RoomsWaiting Room CapacityMaintenance
    Ambulance Bay10000One Ambulance200/hr
    Patient Rooms Wing1200015 Patient Rooms300/hr

    An example Clinic

    Clinics are good short-term solutions to your city's health problems; however, they will become obsolete once you reach about 30000 residents and will need to be replaced with a Hospital when you reach 75000 residents. Clinics offer minimal expansion, but this expansion will be necessary. Try to place your Clinic in the center of your city, and leave room for patient wings on the left and back of your Clinic. Ambulances aren't necessary, but they're strongly recommended.


    NameCostPatient RoomsWaiting Room CapacityMaintenance
    Ambulance Bay15000Two AmbulancesQuicker response time400/hr
    Wellness Center30000One Wellness VanLess germs450/hr
    Patient Rooms Wing4000075 Patient RoomsMore capacity1400/hr
    Emergency Center40000Immediate care2x more time til death400/hr
    Diagnostic Lab60000Advanced sickness care1/2 sickness recovery time750/hr
    Surgical Center80000Advanced injury care1/2 injury recovery time750/hr

    An example Hospital

    Hospitals are practically necessary for any large city as clinics cannot handle many of the intricacies presented by large city health needs. These facilities offer far more patient wings and far more versatility and virulity when it comes to dealing with health problems. Once you have the ability to support the sky-high cost and maintenance expenditures of a Hospital, you should buy it.

    Leave plenty of room behind your Hospital for the many wings and buildings available to improve its performance. Try to consolidate space by placing expansions on top of each other. Also, you realistically only need one ambulance bay and one patient rooms wing; however, you can add more if you have the moolah to support the move. Metal or Petroleum cities will likely need these upgrades, though.


    Police coverage is technically never necessary, but a lack thereof will prevent your city from making it beyond low-wealth shops, factories, and apartments. Hence, you will need a police force for any advanced city. Unfortunately, police coverage is rather expensive (not as bad as a Hospital, though), so you'll need to save up for both the initial investment and the permanent service expenditures. Furthermore, police stations also act as your Department of Corrections with their own jail cells. No need for Courthouses this time around. :)

    The Police Coverage Maps

    Police coverage maps are actually quite interesting to look at, in my opinon, and they can be rather useful. Police maps denote where police patro, where crimes take place, where criminals are, and what crimes are committed. Pockets of red denote unsafe criminal concentrations. You can attempt to weed out these criminals by placing police stations on top of them or by extending the coverage of current police stations with new patrol cars. Here's an example of very good police coverage:

    Crime Layer. Criminals are red bars.

    Relationship with EDUCATION/WEALTH

    Educated people don't tend to commit crimes. Nor do high-wealth Sims. And, if your high-wealth Sims do commit crimes, they will usually resort to white-collar crimes like Embezzlement and Tax Evasion. Uneducated and low-wealth Sims--especially those that are unemployed--tend to commit crimes. If you can get your Education levels up and promote wealthier developments, you can limit the amount of crimes perpetrated. Unemployment and homelessness also correlate to crime rates.

    Police Station

    NameCostJail CellsPatrol CarsPatrol RateMaintenance
    Police Station3000010260min400/hr
    NameCostJail CellsPatrol CarsPatrol RateMaintenance
    Patrol Car Lot100000260min225/hr
    Jail Cells (Ground Floor)150001500300/hr
    Jail Cells (Top Floor)150001500300/hr

    An example Police Station

    Police Stations are the recommended way to deal with crime in the average city. They're smaller, more cost-effective, and still get the job done. Furthermore, they still have the capacity to support cities that have up to 100000+ residents. Only cities with artificially high crime rates should move from the Police Station to the Police Precinct.

    You should leave some space for your Police Station to expand with more Jail Cells, if necessary. You'll also want to make sure that your Police Station can reach the crime-ridden areas and other parts of the city.

    Police Precinct

    NameCostJail CellsPatrol CarsPatrol RateMaintenance
    Police Precinct9500050430min1700/hr
    Police Dispatch Tower10000Faster responseInstant response time525/hr
    Patrol Car Lot150006 Patrol CarsPatrol every 30 min600/hr
    Jail Cells2200070 Jail CellsMore correction facilities700/hr
    Jail Cells (Top Floor)2200070 Jail CellsMore correction facilities700/hr
    Crime Prevention Center30000One Crime Prevention VanCracks down on crime400/hr
    Detective Wing60000DetectivesArrest chronic criminals750/hr
    Police Helipad20000Police helicoptorsLowers crime rates750/hr

    An example Police Precinct

    Police Precincts get all of the toys to crack down on crime. However, Police Precincts are almost never necessary; the only city in which a Police Precinct is inherently necessary is a Gambling city. Otherwise, Police Precincts are just overkill for the watchful, dictator-like mayor.

    If you do want to place a Police Precinct, try to either (a) find a spot where the crime predominantly occurs, or (b) find a spot near the center of your city. Both maximize the effect of your Police Precinct. If you have an insane amount of crime in your city, try to leave as much space behind your Precinct as possible to allow for expansions. You could likely use a few city blocks placing all of those expansions...


    Education is the service that, in all practicality, defines what kind of city you're going to have. Educated cities are very strongly correlated with high-wealth, high-tech, low pollution, high-service, highly-skilled cities. Uneducated cities are very strongly correlated with low-wealth, low-tech, high pollution, few service, low-skilled cities. Furthermore, eductead cities tend to support Electronics, Trading, and Tourism as their Specialization--especially the former. Uneducated cities reflect Mining and Drilling cities.

    The Education Maps

    Education Maps are not very useful; they really only depict who's educated and who isn't educated. Again, the menu bar proves to be more useful; it shows your current education and tech levels for the entire city. It also shows the numerical values of students enrolled in your school system. Nevertheless, here's the Education Layer:

    The Education Layer

    Relation to POWER

    Education is a necessary component for any Nuclear Power Plant worker. Otherwise, the power plant will emit radiation. See Power, subsection Nuclear Power.

    Relation to INDUSTRIAL

    High-tech industries want and require an educated workforce; hence, if you are able to increase the skills and abilities of your Sims--their "Tech"--high-tech factories will begin to move in to take advantage of your Sims' skills. See Tech in the Industrial section of this guide for a more complete treatment of tech; see the University and Community College sections in this section to find out how they can increase Tech.

    Relation to GARBAGE

    Educated Sims are more likely to recycle, giving you more recyclables to convert into usable materials. For more on this, see Garbage.

    Relation to FIRE, CRIME, and HEALTH

    Educated Sims are less likely to cause fires, less likely to commit crimes, and less likely to get sick (they clean up after themselves). Basically, educated Sims are much easier to take care of with regards to other services... However, educated Sims also like more services available to them. Make sure they have access to these services regardless of whether you use them or not.

    Grade School

    Grade School16000150400/hr
    School Bus Lot30002 Buses100/hr
    Classrooms10000200 Desks200/hr
    Top Floor Classrooms10000200 Desks200/hr

    A fully expanded Grade School

    Grade Schools are the first step to unlocking the next few education buildings; however, you really only need one for your entire city. If you want to start building an advanced education system, you need to start somewhat. Furthermore, that somewhere is here!

    It really isn't too big of a deal where you place your Grade School because buses will funnel out to School Bus Stops to pick up students. Just make sure you have room to expand for two classrooms so that you can place ground floor and top floor classrooms for your soon-to-be-fully-expanded Grade School!

    School Bus Stops

    School Bus Stop200100kids10/hr

    School Bus Stops are the little blue dots

    These are a must-build once you place a Grade or High School. Make sure you place them in residential areas to pick up kids; also ensure that they are evenly spaced so as to pick up an even spread of kids.

    High School

    High School600008001100/hr
    School Bus Lot100002 Buses @ 80 kids/bus100/hr
    Gymnasium10000500 Desks250/hr
    Classrooms170001000 Desks500/hr

    A top-heavy High School

    High Schools are not necessary for Tech cities, but they are necessary if you want to have as many educated Sims as possible. They can be expensive, but, for their capacity, they're well worth the cost. When placing a High School, you want to try to leave room for the Gymnasium as it raises land value, increases tourism, and adds capacity to your High School. Classrooms can be placed on top of one another on top of the High School itself, so you don't need to leave room for those. Make sure to fully expand your High School for maximum city education.

    Public Library

    Public Library10000200100/hr

    An example Public Library

    Public Libraries are not required in Tech cities, but they're a good investment for highly-educated cities. They're relatively cheap to build and easy to maintain, so they're well worth the cost. Sims who don't have the money to shop in your city will make their way to the Library to become more educated. A Library will gradually bring the education of your city up.

    Community College

    Community College42000500500/hr
    Extension Wing12000500375/hr

    An example Community College

    Community Colleges are necessary when trying to increase the Tech of your city. They inherently increase the Tech of nearby industrial buildings, and they increase the overall education level of your city. Community Colleges are not as powerful at increasing Tech as Universities, but they can easily take low-tech industries and make them medium-tech industries (i.e., manufacturing factories).

    Community Colleges work best when placed in between Residential and Industrial; this makes it easier for Sims to get to the Community College and will increase the land value of nearby residences whilst increasing the Tech of all nearby industrial buildings. You'll want to leave room on nearby blocks for Extension Wings. (These classrooms don't necessarily have to be connected to the school; see the above picture to see the Extension Wings across the street from the main building.)


    Pedestrian Path0N/A0
    Dormitory40000500 Students500/hr
    School of Business400005001000/hr
    School of Engineering400005001000/hr
    School of Law400005001000/hr
    School of Medicine400005001000/hr
    School of Science400005001000/hr
    NumberStudents per Day

    An example University...

    The University is the most expansive, useful, and complex Non-Essential Service building in the entire game. Not only does it increase the Tech of industrial bulidings in your city, but it also has other amazing affects in the entire region. Firstly, let's talk about the repercussions for your city when you place this in your educated city.

    Firstly, you need lots of space for your University. The buildings don't have to be connected, but they do have to be close to each other. Make sure to leave open city blocks next to each other for all of the buildings. I'm not sure, but I do not believe you have to connect these buildings with a Pedestrian Path if they are already connected by city streets. Also, your expenditures will take a major hit when you place the University, so make sure you can handle this loss of funds. In order to get the Upgrades, you need to have "x" amount of students in a day. While Dormitories will help you reach this goal, you still need to have a decent student population in your own city. Regardless, you should still place the Dormitories as soon as it becomes financially feasible.

    Stimulating University Attendance

    If you're looking for ways to increase your University's daily attendance numbers, you should try demolishing other schools and education buildings in your city. This will force your students to head to your University, and it will make it easier for your University to upgrade. Thanks to azzaron for pointing this out!

    Secondly, let's talk about the Schools. Each of the Schools gives a boost to something in the region: for instance, the School of Engineering increases the amount of profit made by medium- and low-tech industries; the School of Law quickens criminal rehabilitation time; the School of Business increases Commercial profits. However, most of these schools give you access to a "Research Project."

    Research Project

    Your school can engage in a costly Research Project to unlock buildings/Great Works that will then become available to the entire region. I highly recommend that you be running a Research Project whenever you get the chance to run one. Here are the Research Projects available, sorted by which School unlocks the project:

    • School of Engineering
      • Clean Coal Generator
      • Space Center Great Work
      • Clean Oil Generator
      • Vertical Turbine
    • School of Science
      • Concentrated Solar Array
      • Solar Farm Great Work
      • Gen II Thermal Reactor
      • Fast Neutron Reactor
    • School of Law
      • Detective Wing
    • School of Medicine
      • Surgical Center

    Hence, it's a good idea to think about which schools you want to place, considering you can only place one for each upgrade. In general, I recommend you go in the following order: (1) School of Science, (2) School of Engineering, (3) School of Business, (4) School of Medicine, and (5) School of Law.


    Parks are vital for increasing the land value of surrounding buildings; while you can try to facilitate this through service buildings that increase land value, parks do it best. There are parks for each land value, so choose the park that corresponds to the wealth you want around said park. Furthermore, parks also increase Sims' happiness in vice of shopping. You can strategically place parks to raise the land value of your entire city easily. Homeless peoples will congregate in parks, taking up valuable space that could otherwise be used by normal visitors. Try to limit homelessness in your city so that you can get the most out of your parks system. In this Walkthrough, I will simply list all of the parks available for each category, considering there isn't much to say about parks.

    Land Value

    Each set of parks comes in at a specific land value, which, in both the game and this guide, is denoted by a certain number of dollar signs in parentheses: ($), ($$), or ($$$). Obviously, ($$$) corresponds to high-wealth, ($$) corresponds to medium-wealth, and so on. If you'd like to expand the effect on the land value, you can simply expand the park by "editing" much as you would any other expandable building. You can see how parks affect the land value of nearby buildings by viewing the Land Value map:

    The Land Value layer. Green denotes postivie land value influences.

    It's usually a good idea to strategically place your parks so as to make sure the good land-value influence is distributed to increase the land value of all buildings. The best way to go about this is to create a diamond-like system for parks where all parks are diagonal to the nearest other parks. Thanks to azzaron for pointing this out!


    Trees do not allow Sims to visit them, but they do instantly and artificially cut down on pollution in your city. For the record, their effect with regards to pollution has only been verified with ground and air pollution. Hence, forests can be used to "buffer" pollution from other nearby (and dirty!) cities. You can also use trees to clean up after short-term polluters; for example, Sewage Outflow Pipes' effects can be mitigated with trees. However, if trees cannot overcome the pollution, they will die, releasing pollution themselves. Fortunately, you can just plant again and the trees will start working again, lowering the pollution over time. Also, it seems that trees on the border of your town are more prone to dieing. Thanks to WaryContrary for most of the info for this section!

    Basic ($)

    Blacktop Park1001210/hr
    Swings Playground1001210/hr
    Rides Playground1001210/hr
    BBQ Pit1001210/hr
    BBQ Pavilion4004840/hr
    Water Park Playground4004840/hr
    Small Field4004840/hr
    Small Field W/ Parking4004840/hr
    Medium Field W/ Parking1600192160/hr
    Large Field W/ Parking1600192160/hr

    Sports ($$)

    An example of an expanded Sports park
    Public Tennis Court4002440/hr
    Basketball Court4002440/hr
    Volleyball Court4002440/hr
    Medium Skate Park8004880/hr
    Large Skate Park160096160/hr
    Soccer Field10000180600/hr
    Baseball Field10000150500/hr

    Nature ($$)

    Wavy Path Park4002440/hr
    Straight Path Park4002440/hr
    Colorful Path Park4002440/hr
    Tall Tree Row1002410/hr
    Short Tree Row1002410/hr
    Medium Path Park8004880/hr
    Tree-Lined Walkway8004880/hr
    Wavy Tree-Lined Walkway8004880/hr
    Large Path Park3200192320/hr
    City Park3200192320/hr
    Community Park3200192320/hr
    Plant Forest50N/A0
    Clear Forest50N/A0

    Plaza ($$$)

    Flower Plaza4002440/hr
    Double Walkway120048120/hr
    Small Sculpture Garden4002440/hr
    Simple Walkway120048120/hr
    Medium Sculpture Garden120048120/hr
    Large Sculpture Garden240096240/hr
    Large Urban Sculpture Garden240096240/hr
    Urban Greenspace240096240/hr
    Tiered Urban Greenspace240096240/hr

    Formal ($$$)

    Fountain Plaza4002440/hr
    Fenced Fountain Plaza4002440/hr
    Small Fountain Park120048120/hr
    Reflecting Pool Park240096240/hr
    Large Fountain Park240096240/hr