Ten Tips for the Beginner SimCity Mayor

There are certain SimCity strategies that will make your life easier if you follow. Some are due to the way the game is designed, and others are work-arounds to bugs in the game.

1. Health Tip: Build residential areas upwind of polluters (industrial zones, trash dumps, coal/oil power plants, refineries, factories, mines, smelting plants, etc.).

2. Water Tip: Ensure a future supply of water. When you're able to afford it, build water pumps and sewer treatment plants adjacent to each other. Make sure you replace the default water pump with the filtration pumps to remove the ground pollution from the water though. You can see an example of this on the Traffic and RCI Tips page.

3. Education Tip: The key to keeping your sims healthy, happy, and preventing crime is Education, Education, Education. Once you have community colleges and Universities unlocked, demo the grade schools and high schools (and their bus stops). There is a bug that causes bused students to disappear, so you want to stay away from those types of schools. Plus, you don't need them. You can get by with just community colleges. If you want a higher tech level, go with a University. For more information on ways to increase tech level, read the Electronic Farming Guide.

4. Fire Tip: Once you can afford it, build one large fire station with only fire helicopters. Demo all the fire truck garages. For more on this, read the Fire Station Tips page.

5.  Trade Ports and Trade Depots: The game has some bugs which cause trade trucks to occasionally disappear. This bug occurs less frequently when you have only one type of storage yard in each trade port/depot.  You can also have one type of export, one type of import. Just don't have two or more types of imports or exports. When all else fails, demo the truck garages and rebuild them. That will start you off with the correct amount of trucks again. Read more about this in the Electronic Farming Guide.

6. Money: Stick to the standard 12%/11%/10% taxes on Low/Med/High wealth zones. Read more about this on the Ideal Tax Rate page.

7. Tourism: When building a casino/tourism city don't build the municipal airport. Use airships or cruise ship terminals instead.  Read more on the Mass Transit Guide, Casino and Tourism Guide and High Wealth Casino Guide.

8. Maximize your space and don't run out of money: Build slowly. Start with all dirt roads. Utilize the Road Spacing Guide to maximize your buildable area and plan your layout ahead of time.

9. Learn to use mods. Many of the mods improve the gameplay dramatically and are must haves for online or offline play. In particular: Skye's Regional Freeway mod, Multiplopper, Oil well service roads (read more about that one on the Trade Secrets page), and the Cam Mod are all must-haves. All of these are available for online game play. There's also many available for off-line games. These tend to be more for the advanced player as some of them are buggy or a bit strange to work with. To learn more about mods, read the Mod Installation Guide.

10. Youtube is a fantastic resource. There are many great videos out there to help you learn how to play SimCity. In particular everyone should watch Skyestorme's videos. If you're a beginner, make sure to watch his 60 second tips. I have a list of many of these earlier videos on the Skyestorme Video Library page. I eventually stopped updating that page though, so make sure to check out his channel on youtube.


  1. Excellent Bill, I think this will be very helpful to both beginners and pro alike, sometimes we get so carried away with a city, that we tend to forget the basics. It's also a good size to print.

  2. I love this game but i have 2$ left what do i do?.

  3. You refer to a wrong guide in the education section.

    1. Tech level is discussed in the section "Boosting Tech with the Vu Tower" on the Electronic Farming Guide.

  4. I totally disagree with starting out with dirt roads, then you have to demolish those (which demolishes every thing you build on them)to get to the next lvl of road densities. When you are low on money you start another city, the game makes it so some of your cities fail and some make money even if they have all the same stuff. When you first play you want to play for a long period of time but that's not a good idea. Once you have the basics in one city start another then wait a day or so.

    1. You don't need to demolish your dirt roads. Just click on the upgrade button. It keeps your buildings in place. Check out Skyestorme's videos on how to build a standard cash cow city. There's no reason to ever run out of money.