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In SimCity, to get people into your city you will need to create zones. There are three different kinds of zones to your disposal:

Residential is where your people will live. You will want to keep this area away from pollution and near potential jobs. Residential buildings start off at small houses and eventually grow to apartment blocks, large tenements up to towering highrises.

There are three kinds of residents, determined by wealth levels:

  • R$ is a poor-wealth resident. These will primarily live in high-density buildings and prefer to work in industry and agriculture. As they have very low needs, these will be your staple people in the early game. It is desirable to connect these to mass transit as they prefer using buses and trains as their means of getting to work.
  • R$$ is a medium-wealth resident. These live in larger, low-density buildings and require basic education and health facilities to grow. These are very widespread and will work anywhere apart from low-wealth jobs, and will constitute the majority of your residents in the middle of the game.
  • R$$$ is a high-wealth resident. These live in large villas and big condos. They need health and education set up fully and at least some parks, so you will generally not see them until late into the game. They mostly work in the highest wealth jobs in the big offices and industrial enterprises.

Commercial is a source of jobs. There are two types of commercial buildings - services, which includes stores and hotels, and offices. While services will stay small throughout the game, offices can potentially grow into large skyscrapers. Commercial services are flexible and can stand limited amounts of pollution, while offices need a clean area. Split up by wealth, you can differentiate between five kinds of commercial buildings:

  • CS$ is a low-wealth service. This is usually a small store or gas station. Only poor-wealth residents will work in these, so connect these to mass transit to get the residents to their jobs.
  • CS$$ is a medium-wealth service. These are larger stores and shopping malls, as well as inns.
  • CS$$$ is a high-wealth service. These are composed of boutiques and spas.
  • CO$$ is a medium-wealth office. These are usually small businesses, but can potentially grow to large enterprises. As an office, it cannot stand pollution and needs a clean area.
  • CO$$$ is a high-wealth office. These are the big things with large buildings. They need sufficient traffic to grow and cannot stand pollution either.

Observe how there are no low-wealth offices.

Industrial is another source of jobs. There are four types of industries - agriculture, dirty industry, manufacturing industry and high-tech industry. All of these have in common that they generate goods that need to be shipped to the outside. You can either use a road neighbor connection, a rail neighbor connection or an industrial seaport. Since industry generates lots of pollution, you will want to keep it away from residential areas (but not too far so the residents can no longer get to their jobs) and your source of water. The kinds of industrial buildings are described in detail:

  • IR (low-wealth) is farmland. These are composed of a barn and lots of land, which determines the amount of jobs the farm generates. Farms cannot stand air pollution so keep them away from the main traffic - note that they do produce lots of water pollution though, so at the same time do not build it too near to residential areas. Farms only grow for small cities, so once your city is large enough, you will no longer get any farms. Note also that only poor-wealth residents will work in farms.
  • ID (low-wealth) is dirty industry. These are various chemical tanks and burners at the beginning, but can grow to large oil refineries. They produce large amounts of air and water pollution, and only low-wealth residents will work in these.
  • IM (medium-wealth) is manufacturing industry. These include various production facilities and can potentially grow up to large car suppliers. These produce air and water pollution as well, but less than dirty industry.
  • IHT (high-wealth) is high-tech industry. This starts off at small testing grounds and biochemical factories and grows up to large pharmaceutical producers. They need sufficient education to grow and do not like pollution. They do not produce any pollution by themselves either.

While industry is the way to go at the beginning, due to the low amount of jobs it generates it will become slowly obsolete by the large commercial buildings as the game progresses.


To zone an area for growth, you need to select the zoning tool in the left toolbar, and then the type of zone you want to create.

You're then given the choice of zoning low-density, mid-density or high-density. As the higher densities are more expensive, at the start of the game you'll probably want to zone low density (unless you're zoning on a mountainous area). If you later want higher density buildings to grow (once you reach a large enough population), you can easily re-zone the area by selecting the zoning tool again and zoning a higher density upon your buildings. They will then slowly upgrade if demand is there. In the opposite direction, if you zone a lower density area, any high density buildings will be demolished immediately. For industrial, low-density equals agriculture - actual industry starts at mid-density.

Once you zone an area, you will see fields and arrows. The fields equal the area where the new building will grow, while the arrow points towards the street. This is not the case for industrial, though - it is just a blank area, and factories can grow anywhere within this area up to eight tiles away from the next street. You can use Ctrl however to suppress this behavior if you don't want it. Due to their nature, this does not apply to farms either.

If zoning a new area, streets will be automatically created to connect your new areas to the road network. This can be suppressed by Shift if you don't want it. It is also possible to use the Alt key to get an alternative zoning layout if the normal one is undesirable for some reason.


Demand is a very important concept in SimCity. Without demand, no buildings will grow, therefore it is important to keep demand stable throughout the game. When you start a new city, you get some initial demand, once you start up your city, the demand should start to rise up.

To see what your demand is, you can check the RCI bar. It is easily visible in the toolbar and will tell you how high the current demand is. By clicking on it, you can get a detailed view as well.

  • Residential demand is created by having jobs in your city. Most commonly, this includes commercial and industrial jobs, but civic jobs raise residential demand as well.
  • Commercial demand is generated entirely by the amount of sims in your city.
  • Industrial demand is determined by the amount of goods transported.

There are also some ordnances that can raise or lower demand.

Demand caps[edit]

Demand caps are another important concept in SimCity. They prevent demand from rising beyond a specific point, and you need to use so-called demand boosters to raise this cap.


In general, for residential population, all parks will increase the cap in varying amounts. This also includes the plazas, which, while they do increase commercial desirability, do not raise commercial demand caps. So if your population won't grow (a good sign that you reached the demand cap) placing parks should allow the population to grow again. Various rewards raise the residential cap as well.


Commercial services have unlimited demand caps, therefore they can always grow no matter what. For this reason, the following text only applies to commercial offices.

For commercial population, raising the demand cap is easiest done by creating neighbor connections. Every new neighbor connection you create will raise the demand cap for commercial population. The airport increases the demand cap for each passenger transported as well. Finally, some reward buildings also raise the commercial demand cap.


Agricultural demand is satisfied by everything in the game, including residential and commercial population, except for agriculture itself and C$. Therefore, as your city grows larger it will become hard to get agriculture into your city. Note that there are no buildings in the game that raise the agricultural demand cap.

As for actual industry, the demand cap is raised by the freight leaving your city, therefore the industrial demand cap should be self-sustaining if you have any neighbor connections. Note that due to a bug, seaports do not count towards the industrial demand cap. There are some reward buildings which raise the demand cap as well.

To make only high-tech industry, which doesn't pollute and can get you new buildings if you have enough, go to The Monthly Budget menu and raise the taxes for Manufacturing and Dirty Industry to 20.0, which is the highest it will go. The demand for them will get really low and now if you make industry in a high desirability zone it will develop as High-Tech Industry. If it doesn't, to help lower taxes for High-Tech a little or build parks and commercial all around it, but note that you will need to provide a well educated population as well as a supply of water.


All buildings you can potentially get in SimCity are categorized into various stages, which roughly state how high the population density of the building is. At the beginning, you will only get stage 1 buildings, which have a very low density. As your population grows, more and more buildings of higher stages will start to appear in your city. For residential and commercial buildings, the stages range from 1 to 8. Industrial buildings only range from stages 1 to 3.

Note that the stages depend on the regional and not the city population, as such it is very much possible to have skyscrapers growing in an empty city if the neighbors are sprawling metropolises.