A Guide to Manufacturing Farms

A Guide to Manufacturing Farms
by Randy Roberts

First of all, I need to thank Peter van Valderen, Mark Norris and the rest of the SimNation Guild's "SN™ Money Domination" region players who've shared tricks and strategies with me along the way. It's through all of our combined experience that I've been able to write this guide.

A typical PC/Processor farm is shown with an alloy farm off in the distance.
If you've taken a look at any of the North America server leaderboards, you may find a "SN™ Money Domination" region at the top of the simoleon leaderboard. You also might find one of my Uncivil cities in the top 10 of the trading, electronic, or metal leaderboards.  As I've participated in these leaderboard regions I've been building a lot of manufacturing farms: Consumer Electronic Farms, Processor Farms, Alloy Smelting Farms, or Trade Port Farms. In this post I'm going to talk about how I set up these cities to maximize their money making potential.

A smelting farm can be incredibly fun to build, and profitable!
Overall Layout
Although every city is different based on wind direction, city entrance and terrain, I've found the ideal layout to be something like what is shown in the photo below. The residential is squeezed into one corner, the trade ports are along one side and the majority of the map is factories. You can use either traditional housing or megatowers. I'm not a big fan of megatowers so I usually use traditional housing, but I've seen others have great success with them.

It's important to have the streets run perpendicular to the trade ports because it allows for good distribution of trade truck traffic from the ports to the factories. The goal is to have as many factories as possible, so I suggest having sewer, water and power all provided by an adjacent support city. It should be noted that smelting farms require a lot more sewer and water than processor, TV or PC farms. If your city is manufacturing PCs,  you'll also need to have an Electronics Headquarter with Consumer Electronics Division.

EXAMPLE OF BAD DESIGN: This electronic farm had traffic issues due to the streets not being perpendicular to the side with the trade ports. Learned my lesson the hard way.
City Entrance Design
One of the keys to maximizing the output of a manufacturing farm is to have excellent traffic flow.

One way to accomplish this is to separate trade truck traffic from regular traffic at the city entrance. This can be done through creative use of oil well service roads which trade trucks can use, but regular traffic will stay away from (as mentioned in Tip #1 on the Trade Secrets page).  If you don't have it, download the Oil Well Service Road Mod. I like to have an oil well service road tee off of the main entrance near the edge of the map and then have the regular traffic tunnel across the map to the other side. This allows for the trade trucks to enter and exit the city quickly while forcing any traffic backup to occur underground.

Another method which works well is to build an additional entrance with Skye's Regional Freeway mod and have it connect to your road network with only an oil well service road. This makes it a "Trade Truck Only" entrance. Both scenarios work well.

12/9/14 Update: The more I've built these cities, the less I've been using the oil well service road. These days I've just been using Skye's Regional Freeway mod to add additional entrances on each side of the map. Some have questioned the use of mods, but I can assure you that the regional freeway mod is available for use in online games and won't cause any rollbacks or crashes.

Every city entrance I do tends to be different than the last. It's really up to you as the designer to find something that works well with the terrain and layout that you're given. Finding an entrance that works is one of the biggest challenges for this type of city.

Utilizing Skye's Regional Freeway Mod with an oil well service road, a Trade Truck Only route is created (lower left)
12/10/14 Update
Regional Freeway Mod Tip: There is usually a traffic spawn point at the entrance to each neighboring city. Sometimes your trade trucks will get stuck behind the traffic being spawned. One trick that I discovered is to connect a regional freeway just behind the neighboring city's entrance. The trade trucks will backtrack down the highway and then make the turn and come back towards your city, while the regular traffic being spawned will head down the main highway.

Trade Port Layout
In order to maximize the amount of trade ports that you can line up, I recommend extending a railroad along one side of the map. Then fill this side of the map with trade ports. You'll need to use a little trial and error to find the correct spacing of the first road. You'll want a little bit more depth than what would be required for two trade port storage lots. That's because the trade port's rail connection will require a little big more extra depth.

I utilize a 6-pack layout on the storage lots, and place the rail connection in the lower right corner.

When placing the second trade port, move three ticks over from the first trade port. This should leave enough room for the rail connection.

Place the storage lots first and the rail connection last. If all goes well it should look like the trade port below.

Repeat multiple times until you have a full row of trade ports across the map. I like to build each trade port with only one material. That way you can visually see if the storage lots are getting empty.  If you don't see the materials in your trade ports, you may need to increase your graphics settings.

SimNation Guild member Redwazza reported that trade ports with mixed materials tends to get bugged more often than ones with a single material. I have had good success with mixed materials on my export trade ports (TVs-PCs or PCs-alloy) so I suspect that it's the import trade ports that have more difficulty with mixed storage lots. Either way, the general consensus is to stick with only one material in each trade port.

8/17/14 Update: Mark Norris discovered that a 50% import / 50% export split works well in the trade ports. I've tried this out and agree that it's a good way to go. On a PC farm I used 3-Alloy, 3-PC or 3-Processor, 3-PC.  One of the benefits is that every train will have a chance to take exported items with them, thus you'll see a more stable stream of income.

12/9/14 Update: When you ship materials via rail, you may occasionally see your exports selling for $2/rail car. This is a bug, and there's no way to avoid it. One way to minimize it's effect is to build rail trade ports with only one export. Recently I've been using a setup that has 3 imports, 1 export. That way, the times you do get a bugged export, it only costs you the amount of one rail car instead of 2 or 3. I also like the 3/1 setup because you end up with more trade ports/map which in turn means more trade truck garages (and more rail connections) to move materials. The increased number of trade trucks really helps keep the goods flowing.

Processor Factory Layout
The processor factories fit well when placed in an "L" shaped layout. Place the first factory 7 ticks over from the adjacent road.

When complete, it should look like this.

The next road should be placed $440 dirt road spacing over from the first. (Note that this is the same amount as typical High Density back to back spacing.) If you have an avenue like in the photo below, you'll need an extra $25, so it would be $465. If you get a red box like in the photo below, you'll need to move over one tick. Sometimes you can place it on the first tick, other times it needs to go on the second.

Place all four processor units in a "L" shaped formation. When complete, the two processor factories will look like a well fitting Tetris layout.

Consumer Electronic Factory Layout
The consumer electronic factory uses the exact same layout as the processor factories.

Use $440 dirt road spacing

Place the factory seven ticks over from the adjacent road.

Place in an "L" shaped layout.

You may need to shift over one tick to place the second factory.


Smelting Plants
Smelting is the unsung hero of the manufacturing farm game. While most people are building PC manufacturing plants, you can make just as much, if not more money, by smelting. Sure it's dirty, pollutes like crazy and uses an insane amount of sewer and water, but when it comes to making money and controlling the alloy market, smelting is the way to go. Smelting farms are important because if you want to take full advantage of an electronic farm, you'll need favorable pricing, and one way to get that is to flood the market with alloy, thus pushing the alloy price back down.

The easiest layout to do with smelting plants is to simply line them up back to back with four alloy furnaces in a row. This design uses $567 in dirt road costs between roads.

Another way to do smelting plants is to lay them out with two furnaces on each side. This design uses $675 in dirt road costs between roads.  I tend to go with the layout shown above, just because it's easier to do.

Oil Refineries
To be honest, refining oil to plastic is just not very profitable in comparison to the other farm types. For this reason, I usually don't make oil refining farms.

The Consumer Electronic Farm: PCs, TVs or Both?
PCs require alloy and processors to be built. TVs require plastic and processors to be built. The sell price for TVs generally hangs around $126,500 and PCs are $147,500. Both of these prices don't move much so we can say that PCs sell for $20,000 more than TVs. Whether it makes more sense to build all PCs or all TVs depends on the comparison in price between alloy and plastic. If alloy is more than $20,000 higher in price compared to plastic, build TVs. If the difference in price is less than $20,000, build PCs.

While you could build both, I've found that it becomes increasingly difficult to supply and distribute both plastic and alloy at the same time, so I'd stick with either PCs or TVs.

When building a TV or PC factory, make sure to turn off the supply of the material you don't need. If you don't turn it off, you'll be wasting money on supplies that just sit unwanted in a factory.

  • Turn off the alloy suppy in TV Factories.
  • Turn off the plastic supply in PC Factories
Plastic (shown in yellow) sits unused in PC factories. Remember to turn off the unused material when you build the factory or you'll be wasting money.

If you don't need the material, uncheck the box to the right of the supply bar.
Shortages of Material
For many, the first instinct when you get a material shortage is to automatically assume the game is bugged, then demolish the trade port garages and rebuild them. What I've found in these farm cities is that this process usually isn't needed.  The key to keeping your factories stocked is keeping traffic clear and having enough trade trucks to move the goods around the map.  If you get a shortage, build more trade ports. Eventually you'll hit the correct number of trade ports and shortages won't occur again. It's only on a rare occasion that I get a city that has trade ports that are truly bugged. When that occurs I go to the old standby of demolishing and rebuilding the trade port garages. This should be a rare occasion though.

Resident Population and Worker Shortages (PC/TV/Smelting farms)
Worker shortages are pretty much unavoidable in manufacturing farms**. I like to have a resident population of around 90,000-100,000. I usually aim to have all low wealth, high density residential areas. This means you can cram them into the smallest amount of space possible. Even though you have enough workers, you will occasionally get worker shortages. I believe this is somewhat random, but with a population of 100,000 the worker shortages are kept to a minimum.

** For some reason, processor farms don't get the worker shortages that you see in electronic farms. I had  one processor farm that worked perfectly fine with a population of only 2500.

Update (8/28/14): If you keep getting closures due to worker shortages, try closing some factories. Things may run smoother and be more profitable with fewer factories.

Worker shortages in 1-4 factories is typical. If you have this many, something is seriously wrong!
Increasing the Tech Level to Maximize Profits
A typical output from a TV or PC factory is 4,800 units/day. Factories that are close to Tech producing buildings will increase their output up to 9,600 units/day. If you download the Purple Line Industrial Tech Map Mod you can visually see how this works. As seen below, a factory that has the purple circles is receiving extra tech and the output on the factory is increased.

The buildings that increase Tech Level are:
Mark Norris of the SimNation Guild did some tests and found that it didn't make much sense to build multiple universities. The space wasted could be more effectively used by building more factories. That being said, if you have some nooks and crannies in your map where a factory won't fit, but a University will, add the university. I usually build one or two universities in order to keep my education levels as high as possible. I also like to use the School of Medicine for it's benefit of decreasing the chances of sims getting sick.

Boosting Tech with the Vu Tower
The Vu Tower produces tech but comes at a price. In addition to tech, it produces criminals. The criminals are unleashed one at a time when the tower capacity reaches the maximum or all at once when you click on the "Unleash Henchmen" button. Once your henchmen collect $6,000 in stolen money ("loot") you can build the Vu Lab add-on to further increase your tech. Make sure you leave some room for this add-on because you don't want to  move Vu Tower. Once you delete it, you have to re-earn the $6,000 in loot.

Unlocking the Vu Lab is easiest when you don't have any education or police. Your crime rate will soar, but just gut it out and plop a precinct when you've finally unlocked the Vu Lab. Keep in mind you may produce regional criminals so you should inform others what you're doing, or better yet do it in a quadrant where you're the only person. It's also easier when you have a large population.

There's another add-on for the Vu Tower called the VuMobile Garage.  Don't build it. It's just a waste of time.

I work on my Vu "Loot" while my population is still large.
Since the Vu Tower will constantly be releasing criminals, you'll want to have a fully maxed out precinct with detective wings and a good education system when you're done. Eventually your crime rate will drop to normal levels.

For the ultimate tech loaded city, build both the Vu Tower/Lab and the Space Port Great Work. Note that the Space Port is bugged on certain maps, so it should not be attempted on certain maps. See which maps you can (allegedly) build the Space Port Great Work on.  If in doubt, try building the space port in a sandbox region first to verify.

Vu Tower + Vu Lab + Space Port = Lots of Tech for factories

Take advantage of the global market
If you build a manufacturing farm, you will have an effect on the global markets. If you build a consumer electronic farm (PC/TV), you will discover that the processor and alloy price will go up the more you play. Depending on the activity of the server you're playing on this movement can be quite drastic. Prices can rise until your manufacturing farm becomes unprofitable. I've seen processor prices as high as $120,000 from a PC farm that ran too long. In order to combat this, you should play both sides of the coin. In a perfect world, I would build an alloy farm, processor farm and consumer electronic farm.  That way you can toggle between the cities to take advantage of the highs and lows of the market. When the processor price goes high, jump to your processor farm. When alloy price is high, play the alloy farm.

The effect of your gameplay will be evident when checking the price history in the global market. In the photo below, I started playing an alloy farm at Point A. When I switched to a PC farm (Point B) the alloy price began to rise back up. At point C I switched back to the alloy farm, and again the price began to decline.

Keeping the processor price down
If you don't have a processor farm that you can switch to, I recommend you manufacture about 50% of your own processors and import the rest. By doing this, you'll delay the rise in processor price.  Keep in mind that you will get 2 TVs or PCs for every processor you manufacture, so you won't need that many processor factories to accomplish this. If the processor price gets up to around $95,000 it's probably time to switch to a smelting farm and wait for the processor price to drop back down. If you do have your own processor farm, it would make more sense to go 100% TVs or PCs.

Trade Cities
Another way to take advantage of the swings in price due to your farming is to build a city that has nothing but trade ports and simply buys low and sells high. I've found that alloy is the material that is easiest to control through supply (a smelting farm) and demand (consumer electronic and/or processor farm). I've included a table below of typical prices. The prices don't normally get into the Super High or Super Low territory unless there is some serious farming going on.  On my alloy trades, I generally like to buy around $34,000 range and sell at $60,000.

A Trade Farm stands waiting to buy up alloy when the price is right.
Track the Global Market While You Play
I recommend you download the Trend Pack Mod by schaefjw. It modifies the leaderboard menu to give you access to the global marketplace history without having to exit your city. It's a handy mod that gets my stamp of approval!

Planned right, you can take advantage of the swings in the market (which you are causing)!
Force An Update to the Trade Prices
Occasionally, the trade prices in your city differ from what is reported by SimCityWorld. If you play long enough, the prices will eventually update. If you're in a hurry and the price isn't updating, exit to the main menu and jump back into your city. The trade price should update right away.

The 0 population city - Using an Arcology Great Work
If you build an arcology, you can remove all of the residential zoning from your city. The arcology will supply all the workers needed to keep an entire map's worth of factories busy.  If you do this, I recommend you build a good bus system that has stops in front of each factory. I also recommend you build a lot of park-and-rides, especially near the city entrance.  In addition, I like to build a train station.

There's a couple of weird things that happen with a 0 population city. If you have no residential, commercial, or industrial buildings, you won't have any fires. Another unusual effect is that sick workers will return to the arcology or home city (if commuting) for any treatment. Thirdly, if you don't have any local residents, you don't need to worry about crime. Thus:
  • You can delete your fire station
  • You can delete your hospitals and clinics
  • You can delete your police station
The exception would be if you have a Vu Tower. In that case you'd probably want to have a police station to keep the criminals from becoming regional criminals.

Having a 0 population city is undoubtedly cool. I love seeing them in action and it is the most effective way to take the #1 spot on an electronic, metal, or gambling leaderboard. Unfortunately, the arcology has a major downside.
  • No matter what you do, the arcology will eventually get bugged. 
If you don't intend on playing very long (0-15 years), this probably doesn't matter to you. But if you're attempting to max out your treasury for the simoleon leaderboard, you may want to stay away from the arcology. In every instance, the arcology traffic eventually gets gummed up at the arcology exit. This may happen in year 15 or year 45, but every time we built an arcology in our SN™MoneyDomination regions, the arcology traffic routing went haywire and things got messy. Once that happens you'll see frequent worker shortages. If this does happen to you, the fix is to add residential back into your city.

All that being said, I still recommend you try a 0 population city out at least once. It is just so dang cool!. Plus you'll be amazed at how much money you'll make when doing it. 

Don't Go Over the Maximum Amount of Money!
The maximum amount of money you can make in the game is $2,147,483,647. If you go over this number, your leaderboard number will show up as negative.  If you go over, gift out some money to another city or try exiting and reentering the map several times until your number registers as a positive.

The highest Electronic Leaderboard number I've ever seen was by Mark Norris (mcn97) who had just over $100M.  Generally, the top spot will range from $40-$85 Million.  My personal best is $72.6 Million.

My personal high on the metals leaderboard from a smelting city is $40 Million.

I was surprised to see that a trading city that buys alloy low and sells high, also shows up on the metals leaderboard. I would have expected that to show up on the trading leaderboard instead. My personal best on that type of city was $58.8 Million.

Got a tip? 
Do you have another way of doing things that works for you? Have a tip or trick to share? Leave a comment below to share.

I hope this guide gives you the encouragement to try a new type of city you haven't tried before. It's not the most pretty city, but I find it to be an interesting challenge.

SimCity High Population Guide

High Population Building Tips
by Brian Boyd (@simcitybrian) of the SimNation Guild

Self-Promotion since I did take the time to write these tips out. I will continue to tweet my screenshots, but not sure if I will make more videos as they are really time consuming, but welcome those that what to following me on Twitter or subscribe to my channel.



WARNING: the following tips were written prior to update 6.0 and this type of city will not be sustainable. You are trying to reach the maximum amount of population and then leave the city, never to return again. Since this is the goal, gift all your money to neighboring city before you leave as you will not need that money any longer.

* After you claim your city, before doing anything else, go to region view and if you have neighbors, purchase Power, Water and Sewage from everyone you can. This will allow you to have extra money for roads. You can add these services to your own city later as it starts to grow. Sometimes there will be enough excess power, water and sewage from your neighbors that you never have to build these in your own city. This was the case for my 1.5 million population city.

* If you have neighbors with more money than they know what to do with, ask for a gift. If you follow all my tips here in this document, you will not need any more than $1 million Simoleons as you will soon be earning $40,000 per hour. Yes, that is correct, $40k per hour. In my city of 1.5 million pop, I gifted my neighbor over $50 million that was in my treasury because I would never need it again as I would not be returning to this city ever again. If you have a city with this much population, the city is like a house of cards and it will eventually collapse if you continue to play it as it is not sustainable.

* If you do not have neighbors to gift you starting capital, you can follow Skye Storme's tip for building your treasury. To do a little self-promotion, I have included my video where I used Skype's tip. :)

(SimCity 2013 The Basics - Part 1 - Fast Track to $1 Million)

(Big Government Achievement and 42 Others in 3 Hours)

* Check the wind direction and start your road layout upwind. The reason is that you will want to place your services like the garbage dump downwind and if you layout your roads correctly, you will have a little extra space on one side of your map to maximize the space needed by services.

* Do not add roads on the edges of the map. Use the road guides as you want to have buildings that touch the edge of the maps, not roads. You start in one of the corners the map that is upwind (upwind is the opposite direction of the arrow). Draw a dirt road sideways that totals $885 and then draw another road downwind by a total of $437. Draw a short section of Avenue at the end of the 885 road to mark your spot and then a dirt short dirt road at the corner of the 437 spot. Your block will be 885 x 437 with Avenues running along the short distance and streets along the long distance. NOTE: if you have train tracks in your city, you may need to make some adjustments around those.

* Build a grid layout (dirt road blocks at $820 x $437) as you are not trying to build a pretty skyline. (For reference see the Road Spacing Guide). Once you have your road layout, upgrade all streets and avenues only to medium density. You will need to keep checking the Density Map and wait until almost all the buildings have a happiness of 660 and the bars are green. A few yellow bars will be alright. Once most of the buildings are at max medium density, upgrade all your streets and avenues to high density and just watch how fast your population with expand.

Uncivil Engineer's Tip: I've found that the $820 x $437 will sometimes leave you just a tad bit short due to slight sloping in the land. I've been using $822 x $439 just to be on the safe side. If you find a plot won't grow to be a large residential building, you can try placing a high school building (they have the same dimension) and  see if the adjacent buildings highlight themselves, meaning there's just not enough space. 

* Increase your taxes for low wealth to 11% and leave it there for the entire time as you will only have low wealth residential and they will not complain at this rate. Then set your medium and high wealth taxes to 20% as you do not want those buildings in your city. You only want low wealth when trying to get high populated cities.

* If you do not have neighbors to gift you money at the beginning, then start with dirt roads and upgrade roads after you have your city covered in zoning. If you get a gift, then it is best to pause your game, layout your roads (medium density only), all your services, zone your entire city (starting furthest from the city entrance) and then un-pause. You will want to keep check often to make sure you always have enough services.

* High density streets are better than avenues as they take up less room. I personally use a mix of Avenues and Streets and I do not use mass transit. Mass transit uses space that can be used for residential buildings and sometimes they do not help all that much when trying to pack a lot of sims in your city.

* In the beginning, zone Commercial all along the outside edge and several blocks in the middle of your city. You will want to have zero unemployment while you are at medium density. Once you have upgraded all your buildings to high density, you will want low unemployment, then pause the game, bulldoze all your commercial buildings, dezone commercial and then zone residential. Now you un-pause the game and watch your city go to new highs. With no commercial, your sims will be unemployed, no money to spend nor anywhere to spend if they did have money so you will see that the streets will empty and you will not have any traffic.

* Do not zone the entire block; zone only on the street leaving your avenues as throughways. If the building's front/back are not on the avenues, you will not have cars driving out of the buildings onto the avenues helping with traffic issues.

* Schools are very important as they help with services like Fire, Health & Police.

Skye's SimCity 60 Sec Tips - No. 24 - Colleges and Extensions

Skye's SimCity The Basics - Education Guide Part 1

Skye's SimCity The Basics - Education Guide Part 2

* Do not add Clinics or Police until you get around 5 Deaths and Crimes per day. Your city will not suffer much with this amount so save your money to build roads and upgrade roads.

* Only add a fire station when you get tired of bulldozing or when you start to see your city growing to medium density. Again, this is just to save money for other needs. After your city matures and it is time for the Large Fire Station, you should use only helicopters and bulldoze the small stations you may have.

Skye's SimCity 60 Sec Tips - No. 8 - Fire Helicopters

* Add a Garbage Dump once you have about 500 cans to be picked up. Continue to add truck garages and incinerators to the dump as you need them. Eventually you will need 2 maxed out dumps for very high populations as you do not want garbage not picked up as that will create health issues.

* In your quest for high population, it will take some time so you will surely have a few disasters. The odds are that disasters like earthquakes and tornados will hit more in the center of your maps so it is better to only have zones in the middle and have your services on the edges of the map. One disaster you can prepare for which is the lizard. What this short video to learn what to do if the lizard strikes.

 Skye's SimCity 60 Sec Tips - No. 15 - How To Stop the Big Lizard

 Skye's SimCity 60 Sec Tips - No. 2 - Never run out of water

If anyone else has great tips for building high population cities, please leave a comment.

Additional tips from Uncivil Engineer:

Important! Since the potential population count decreases with land value, the goal will be to end up with as much high density, low value land as possible.
  • Note: As you build, place your facilities on the exterior of the map, as close to the edge as possible.  
  • A good school system will come in handy later with controlling crime and sickness. As I go, I like to build two high schools, one on each side of the map, near the edge. When they fill up, add an extra story on top. 
  • To start, build two clinics and two fire stations. One on each side of the map, centrally located but on the edge. Eventually, you'll want to demolish this and go with one hospital on the edge, centrally located. After you're making lots of money, you'll be able to demolish your small fire stations and should be able to get by with one large fire station with 4 helicopters. I suggest demolishing your fire trucks and only use the helicopters, dispatch tower and fire marshalls.
  • Add a Garbage Dump with 4 trash incinerators. If you notice your trash is not being picked up, or trash is collecting in the dump, add a second dump with 4 incinerators. 
  • At first you can get by with wind or solar power, but you'll want to switch to oil plants. Make sure you check off "Use global supplies". You'll also want to add a trade depot with 4 oil storage areas and set it to import. Don't use coal because the output is about 50% of oil. Nuclear is effective, but you'll need a good education system and it requires more water. Plus, it's REALLY easy to accidentally cause a radiation explosion by demolishing it when running. If you do that, just quit the map because your quest for 1 Million is impossible to achieve with radiation damage.
  • Do not place the mayor's house or mansion, it will increase the land value around it, thus diminishing your population count.
  • With Update 6.0 now in effect, you will need to include some industry in your initial layout. I like to put it on one entire edge of the map, preferably the downwind side.
Offsite Utilities and Services

If you’re trying to max out the population in your city, it is beneficial to outsource your power, water, sewer and trash to a neighboring city plot that you also have claimed. When you use services located in another city, you pay them a small fee. It seems like the fees are much less than what the normal cost is if it had been located within your city, so it's really a great way to go.

At the end this 1.5 Million Sim City had: 1 dump, 1 high school, 1 precinct, 1 hospital and 1 fire station located within it's borders. Offsite, there was numerous power plants (you can see a few in the upper left of the photo), water pumps, sewage treatment and trash dumps in other neighboring cities.

I’ve been able to create cities of 1.5 Million in population with no power, sewer or water facilities located within it's limits (see photo above). In fact, it’s pretty much a necessity if you want to hit 1.5 Million just based on the amount of space that those utilities normally take up.  However, you’ll find that the full potential of those off-site resources never quite gets utilized. It feels like they allocate out a certain percentage to each city plot even if those other plots aren’t requesting to use the resource.  You may find yourself building 2 or 3 power plants to replace what would normally be 1 power plant located within your city. The same goes with sewer, water and trash.

Offsite Power
There is one huge benefit to locating your power plant in a neighboring city, which is that you don’t need to worry about your oil trucks making it to the plant in time.  If you have a power plant within your city  you will occasionally lose power due to lack of fuel for the plant. With an offsite power plant you’ll never have to worry about that again. 

Offsite Water
You can purchase your water from neighboring cities, and from what I can tell, it doesn’t decrease the water table in the city you’re taking water from. Free water for the taking (minus a small fee...so almost free).

Offsite Sewer
Sewer can be sent to neighboring cities as well, saving space to pack more sims into the city you’re trying to max out.

Offsite Trash
Relying solely on offsite trash service can be a dangerous game to play due to the potential for traffic to clog up your highways and prevent the trash trucks from arriving.   It’s best to have at least one dump with all four trash incinerators located within the city, and let your other cities handle the excess. You may even need two dumps, but when you get close to maxing out your plot, you can delete one and replace it with residential to squeak out the final couple of thousand residents. Note that when the trash overflows, it increases the chance of sims getting sick from ground pollution. This also increases your health costs by needing Wellness Centers and planting of trees to clean up the germs.

Offsite Police, Fire, Hospitals
In the early stages you can definitely get by with police, fire and hospitals from the neighboring cities if you've built those up ahead of time. As traffic builds though, you’ll find that you need to have at least one of each within your city.

You should only need one fire station assuming you use the following setup:
Large Fire Station
1 dispatch tower
1 fire marshall (delete the fire truck garage and replace with a marshall)
4 fire helicopters only
No other fire truck garages within your city

You can also get by with one police precinct and one hospital, but it definitely helps to send resources from the other cities as well. I like to use the preventative add-ons like detective units, crime prevention to keep problems at a minimum. I do the same with the hospital add-ons.

Pushing towards 1 Million and beyond

  1. When I start out I usually have a 1.25:1 Residential to Commercial ratio.  I do my layout all in dirt roads, and let it build up. 
  2. When you get enough money, go ahead and upgrade to medium density.  
  3. Then you just wait... Wait until all of the blocks are filled up with medium density buildings.  
    Waiting for the Medium Density buildings to come in...and waiting....and waiting...
  4. Once you reach max capacity at medium density, then you can go ahead and upgrade your roads to high density.  
    Time to upgrade to High Density roads
  5. Again the key is to wait. Wait until everything is full with high density buildings. Let everything develop as is. You may have an inbalance of workers and jobs.   
  6. Now it's time to convert your commercial to residential. Start demolishing commercial and swapping it out for residential until you reach a 1:1 balance of Workers:Jobs in your population details.  
  7. Once you're at a worker-job balance, you'll want to wait some more so that the entire map fills up with well paid, happy employees.  I think of this stage as filling a piggy bank. You're filling your sims up with money and happiness to keep them happy for as long as possible because you're going to be firing them (you'll be demolishing their workplace) and they won't have any income.  You can use the "Residential Map" to see the happiness and money levels rise.
    The "Residential Map"
  8. Finally, when you're ready for the final push, start demolishing commercial and replacing it with residential. You can use the "Commercial Map" to help you find where all the commercial spots are.
    The "Commercial Map"
  9. Drop your tax rate to 0% so that sims keep moving in and remain happy.  
  10. Finally, you can demolish all your industrial and replace it with residential as well. If everything goes well, and you have an efficient layout, you should surpass 1 Million sims and go as high as even 1.6 Million (the highest amount I've seen, which was by Brian Boyd).
  11. If the sims lose all their happiness and money they will eventually become homeless.  Hopefully by the time this happens you will have reached your population goal.  If you have not reached your goal, it's time to put commercial/industrial back in and go back to try to achieve a worker/job balance (step 6). In order to avoid this situation, you can use the "Residential Map" to monitor the happiness and money levels over time. If you see buildings start to run out of money and happiness, they're about to move out and turn into homeless. You can demolish the building to avoid this situation.

Road Spacing Guide

Much of this information was figured out by various members of the Sim Nation Guild. This guide was originally compiled by Dee Finney, and I've updated it as new information has arisen. It lists how to properly space roads so that you can build efficiently, without a lot of wasted space.

For proper spacing, you will use DIRT ROADS as a "pencil line", and draw them to the specified length (dollar amount) as noted below. You can upgrade those roads later to medium or high density when you're ready to increase your density. You do not want to use high density roads or avenues for this. It's too expensive and the dollar amounts will be much different.

** Flat Terrain **

Larger Blocks
For each additional building in a row, add $196, thus 
5 x 2 = $1016 x $436, 
6 x 2 = $1212 x $436
7 x 2 = $1408 x $436

Adjustments for avenues
Avenues cost an extra $25 per side. So a 4 x 2 with an avenue on one side would be $820 + $25 = $845 
or with avenues on both sides = $820 + $25 + $25 = $870

** Uneven Terrain **

IMPORTANT! : Adjust for steepness
The numbers above were based on flat land.  If your plot has some slope to it, you'll need to add another $5-$10 per side. For example, instead of $244 (single depth), I like to use $250. For double depth, I use $440. These numbers are rounded off so they're a little bit easier to remember too.

Video Explanation
Dan Stenn of the SimNation Guild did the original calculations which are explained in the video below.

SkyeStorm had slightly larger numbers, which you can see in his 60 second tip below.

How to find the “center” point in the City:
(Square roads layout)

Draw dirt road from corner of map costing $2015 - $2016. Then draw a road toward the center of map costing the same ($2015 - $2016). Then draw a road costing $440 - $441 from the center point if you want to make back to back HD streets. Draw slightly longer roads ($466 - $486) if you will be using avenues.

(Circle roads layout)
Draw dirt road from corner of map costing $2015 - $2016. Then draw a road toward the center of map costing the same ($2015 - $2016). (same as above) Then draw a road from the center point of the city costing $300 minimum so that the circular road will accommodate 3 HD buildings.

Switch to circle road tool and place your mouse at the end of the $300 road. Drag your mouse back to the center point of the map to create your first circle. Switch back to straight road tool, and draw an extension road off of the $300 road costing $462. Switch back to circle road tool, and drag your circle road back to the center point in the city to create your second circle.

More Tips
Here's some additonal road spacing information per the "Road $ Layout" guide, created by Emeric Chen found at

Single High Density

ave to street - $272

street to street - $246 *yes (back to back medic center test) better if use $248

ave to ave - $294

Double High Density Zone

street to street - $440

st to ave - $466

ave to ave - $486


Front to Back,

Ave to Street, $682

Street to Street $656

side2side w/ room for additions

Ave to Street, $764

Street to Street $736

Convention Center

to draw a road behind convention center

ave to convention center to street - $420

length of convention center is $450

depth: $414

side of convention center must be $260 away in order to build


depth: $495

length: $757

(Road spacing and finding center of city info obtained from: Emeric Chen and Skye Storm)

SimCity Landmark Dimension Guide

For a list of all the building dimensions, check out the Building Dimension Guide.

Oftentimes, I start building a city in SimCity with an ultimate design in my head.  I know where I want to place special landmarks, but I don't necessarily have the money to do so.  I thought that it would be nice to be able to leave the space required for the landmark ahead of time. Using sandbox mode on a flat map, I found the dimensions (using dirt road cost) of each of the SimCity landmarks. Most of these dimensions are set up so that if you leave the required space, you will be able to place the landmark in multiple orientations. For the square landmarks you should be given 4 rotation options and the rectangular landmarks, two orientations. I've noted the instances where this is not the case.

Since all of these were determined through a trial and error process, leave a comment if you find one that doesn't work for you. I suspect that maps with more elevation change may need larger areas for each of these.


Arc de Triomphe
$253 x $253

Big Ben
$253 x $253

Brandenburg Gate
$380 x $248

Cinquantenaire Arch
$305 x $305

Dutch Windmill
$190 x $190

Edificio Copan
$507 x $248

Eifel Tower
$444 x $444

Empire State Building
$373 x $248

$253 x $253

Kolner Dom
$636 x $435

Leaning Tower of Pisa
$192 x $181 (provides two orientations)

$251 x $227

Statue of Liberty
$253 x $253

St. Basil's Cathedral
$442 x $396

Stockholm City Hall
$442 x $246

Tokyo Tower
$315 x $315

Zamek Krolewski w Warszawie
$637 x $442

Washington Monument
$220 x $220

Willis Tower
$253 x $253


Globe Theater
$253 x $253

Oslo Opera House
$818 x $444

Sydney Opera House
$782 x $442

Expo Center
$607 x $451

$928 x $550