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SimCity Zoning Guide

Create a pedestrian-friendly city, build tall skyscrapers, get clean industrial buildings, and develop high tech buildings. We tell you how.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

Ready to populate your city and make some money? Designating residential, commercial, and industrial zones spurs the construction of houses, shops, and factories, instantly creating multiple sources of tax revenue for your city. After plopping down all your utilities, you’ll need plenty of income to offset those hourly operational costs. But there’s more to zoning than setting aside plots of land for development.

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Will Sims walk to work?

SimCity Zoning 1

If a Sim lives within 400 meters of their job, they will walk to work. In fact, Sims will walk anywhere as long as their desired destination is within 400 meters. So try to create self-contained miniature communities where Sims can walk everywhere. This requires the zoning of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings within close proximity of each other. The only downside is the pollution and low land value associated with dirty (tech level 1) factories in industrial zones. But if you can promote the growth of clean (tech level 2) and high tech (tech level 3) industry, you can mitigate these concerns while promoting a pedestrian-friendly city.

How do I build tall skyscrapers?

SimCity Zoning 2

Towering high-rise condos and office buildings arise from residential and commercial zones once certain conditions are met. First, at least one adjacent road must accommodate high density buildings. So make sure a High Density Street or High Density Avenue is next to the zone. Use the Road Selector tool to upgrade existing roads. Next, work to make the tenants of the existing building happy by providing ample utilities and city services. Click on a building to open a window showing two meters, indicating current density and land value. As happiness reaches certain thresholds, the density of the building will increase. All buildings start out as low density, but will slowly upgrade into medium and high density buildings as long as the tenants remain happy. With each density increase, the building grows in height, accommodating more Sims. But high density buildings consume more power and water while producing more garbage and sewage, not to mention traffic. So make sure your city’s utilities and road network are prepared to handle an increase in density.

Why aren’t all  Sims satisfied with my city’s shops?

SimCity Zoning 3

Sims only shop at a commercial building which cater to their wealth class. Low wealth Sims only shop at a low wealth shops, medium wealth Sims require medium wealth shops, and high wealth Sims only visit high wealth shops. Like residential buildings, the type of shop that appears in a commercial zone, is determined by land value. Use parks to boost the land values of adjacent commercial zones. Nearby Sports and Nature parks encourage the appearance of medium wealth shops while Plaza and Formal parks promote high wealth shops.

How do I create clean industrial buildings?

SimCity Zoning 4

You’ll need a Community College in your city before clean (tech level 2) industrial buildings are constructed in industrial zones. The Community College supplies the skilled workforce necessary to staff these upgraded factories. Clean industrial buildings pollute less than dirty (tech level 1) industrial buildings and they generate more money for your treasury through tax revenue. For best results, create industrial zones around the Community College to encourage the growth of clean industry; proximity makes a difference.

How do I create high tech industrial buildings?

SimCity Zoning 5

A University is required before high tech (tech level 3) industrial buildings sprout from industrial zones. These cutting-edge facilities require a steady flow of University-educated Sims. Out of the three tech levels, high tech buildings pollute the least and generate the most in tax revenue. But the revenue probably won’t offset the high costs of running a top-notch University. So consider augmenting your city’s income by pursuing the electronics specialization. University-educated Sims can also find work in the Processor Factory and Consumer Electronics Factory, producing high-priced processors, TVs, and computers for export on the global market.

Learn more about the power of good infrastructure with our SimCity Infrastructure Guide here.

Do you have more questions? Post them below! For more information on roads, utilities, and mass transit, check out the SimCity: Prima Official Game Guide, available now.

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