SimCity 4 Strategy: Tips for Starting a New City

Slow Growth Is Key

A Small Neighborhood in SimCity 4
Photo © Electronic Arts

SimCity 4 is one of the best city-building games out there. You've probably noticed that starting a new city in SimCity 4 is more difficult and challenging than it was in past versions. No longer can you simply plop down some zones and watch the Sims flock to your city. Now more than ever, the building process reflects the problems and concerns of real-life city planners. Like them, you must work for every bit of growth and carefully think about your strategy.

The most important Sim City 4 strategy of all is to build slowly. Don't rush to build fire departments, water systems, schools, and hospitals. You'll drain your initial funds very quickly. Instead, have patience and grow your creation slowly. Wait to add these services after you have a stable tax base.

Here are a few more SimCity 4 tips that will help you start a new city successfully.

Hold Off on Public Services

Build public services only as needed. They're not necessary when you first start the city. Instead, wait until the city asks for it. Build low-density commercial and residential zones and medium-density industrial zones.

Manage Funding for Services

Manage the funding for the services (school, police, etc.) you do provide very closely. Does your power plant produce more energy than is needed? Then lower the funding to match your needs, but remember: Cutting back on funding means that your plants will decay more rapidly. Your goal is to spend as little as possible on services without compromising the health of your infrastructure and population.

Raise Taxes

Raise taxes to 8 or 9 percent in the very beginning to boost your incoming revenue.

Make Residential and Industrial Development a Priority

Focus on residential and industrial building when you first begin creating your new city. Once it has grown a bit, add commercial zones and then agricultural zones. This advice might not hold true for cities connected to regions, however. If there's demand for commercial development right away, then get to it. In general, try to plan residential zones so they're close to the industrial zones (and your eventual commercial zones). That reduces commute times.

Plant Trees

Sim City 4 strongly acknowledges the effects of pollution on the health of a city, and many a player has seen cities succumb to it. Planting trees is one way to keep pollution in check. It's a long-range strategy that takes time and money, but healthy cities with clean air tend to attract business and population — and ultimately, revenue.

Hold Off on Fire and Police Departments

Build fire and police departments only when citizens begin demanding them. Some Sim City 4 players wait until the first fire occurs to build a fire department.

Grow Health Care Facilities Carefully

One of the biggest Sim City 4 tips for new cities is that health care isn't a big concern in the beginning stages. If your budget can handle it, build a clinic. Expand slowly as your city starts to show a profit. Don't build so much that your budget veers into the red; rather, wait until you have enough money to cover the expenditure.

Building a metropolis takes some patience. Build wisely, and soon you'll have a thriving city!