SimCity 2013 Zoning Guide – How To Build Your City Zones

By   /   Mar 10, 2013

So you think you’re all prepared for being a Mayor? Well, just hold your horses for a bit, because there are a couple of things, you should know before you start constructing buildings and meaningless transport systems.

It’s important to understand how a city should be structured, both for the sake of its progress and the happiness of its people. This essential know-how comes in the form of Zoning, an extremely important aspect of the game that deals with RCI Management.

For more help on SimCity, read our Tourism, Disasters and Great Works Guide.

SimCity Zoning – How To Build

If you don’t know what RCI is, then you’re visiting the right guide, because this one is based on it. Zoning is basically how you create the layout of your city based on the Residential, Commercial, and Industrial requirements. Together, these three parameters are known as RCI.

Zoning according to such requirements doesn’t exist in games only; this method of city-planning is carefully practiced in modern times as well, and that is why you see well-managed roads, ideally placed buildings, and organized system in most of the progressed cities of the modern world.

RCI Interdependence

Contrary to common misconceptions, the Residential, Commercial, and Industrial zones of a city are actually interlinked; changing one may have drastic effect on the other two. Thus, it is important to know what kind of symbiotic relationship exists between them.

Firstly, let’s look at Residence. Residential areas are those in which your Sims will live. This area is a domestic place that should have a reasonable distance from the Industrial zone. The residential area is also the place where Sims will go to work from, and eventually come back to rest. For a good domestic life, this place should be kept clean, far away from the industrial zone.

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Now, let’s come to the industrial zone. The industry is where your city manufactures different requirements of the city. These include basic needs such as power and electricity, to needs such as electronic products and other goods. Workers from the resident area will come to this place to work as well, but most residents will prefer that the Industrial zone is far from where they rest, so to avoid pollution, noise issues, traffic issues, and mishaps.

The last is the commercial area. This is an all-access area in your city. Basically, this is where the freight from your industry is delivered, and this is the place where Sims will buy products and gain happiness. Workers will also come here from their residential homes, and so will other Sims that wish to buy the necessities and desires of every day.

Each of these zones generates profit for your city in the form of tax, and also generates happiness. Sims who have no jobs will not be able to buy products from the commercial zone, and hence will not be able to pay their rents and dues for their houses in the resident zone.

If there are no Sims to buy products, then the shops will close down, and eventually the industrial zone will have no place to send their freights to. As a result, the entire infrastructure will collapse.

Thus, it’s important to understand that the RCI infrastructure is intertwined, and that’s why we try to consider it as one unit.

Residential Activity

Although the RCI is considered as one, interdependent unit, it’s important that one understands the internal activity of each unit before zoning for the entire place. Residential Areas have a Sims flow system of their own.

It’s important to understand that Sims don’t grow out of the ground. A large portion of them will actually migrate from outside to your city. These ‘happy’ Sims will attempt to enter the city at a fixed rate, and it is your job to make sure that they remain happy to aid in the thriving of the city.

Sims are divided into three classes based on wealth: low wealth, medium wealth, and high wealth. Each type of class will have its own demands and own flow in the Residential area. The type and number of jobs will cap the amount and type of Sims that can enter the city.

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It is possible to have higher wealth residences replace lower ones, based on the quality of your industries, commercial areas, and the associated jobs. Additionally, high traffic areas will feature more dense building structures as well.

Sims inside the Residential zones will have problems. If they become too unhappy, they will eventually leave the city. Additionally, if residents are not earning enough, they will become bankrupt and will have to leave their homes. It is important that you check regularly for understanding the happiness level of your Sims. You can do so by clicking on the buildings, which will give you a lot of details.

Commercial Activity

Now that we understand the type of Sims, we can apply it to the Commercial zones. Commercial areas are where your Sims will spend their money. Since there are three types of wealth-based Sims, there will be three types of zones that will be targeted.

Low wealth zones will tend to increase crime rates, so it’s important that you progress your city enough to attract high wealth Sims so that high wealth buildings can automatically replace the low wealth ones.

One of the best methods to do so is to largely invest in tourism. Tourist attractions and landmarks should mainly be built within the Commercial zone. It is also important to ensure that the commercial zone is easily accessible to both the residential zone and transport hubs such as Train Stations and Bus Terminal.

Commercial buildings that aren’t earning enough will be abandoned, hence forcing workers to quit jobs and preventing residents from buying. Thus it is important to regularly check up and solve the problems being faced in the place.

Industrial Activity

Industrial activity is not influenced by wealth, but by the level of education in your city. If you have a low literacy rate and (hence) uneducated workers, chances are that your industry will be polluted, with rough and dirty buildings and increased crime rate.

As you gradually improve the educational structure of your city, the dirty buildings will automatically be replaced by better buildings, reducing pollution and mishaps, and also increasing the efficiency. This will in turn improve the lifestyle of your citizens, hence improving the residential zone, which will in turn improve the commercial zone.

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It is important that you have sufficient job openings so that resident workers go to the factory for work. This will improve the quality of your products, improve the general output, and make your commercial zone much more successful. Lack of products will result in a building being shut down.

The industrial area is easily the most delicate area of the entire game, and its extremely important that you monitor it closely, as the commercial zone’s success and the lifestyle of the residents depends on it.

Zoning the Zones

Now that we know the activities within each zone and also their interdependence, let’s have a look at how you can layout them.

For that, there are a few things you should remember. Firstly, try to build multiple small zones in blocks of four. Each block should contain two residential zones and one commercial and one industrial zone, maintaining a 2:1:1 layout. This is the ideal situation that you should try to attain.

However, sometimes such a layout is not possible, because of pollution and other similar issues. These issues will create unhappy and sick Sims, which will result in skipping jobs and hence the entire infrastructure collapsing. This problem mainly exists in low-wealth and/or uneducated areas, so the best solution is to educate the people.

But creating schools and a University is a long-term process, so it’s generally a good idea to keep the industrial zones a bit far away from the commercial and residential zones. Once your city has good education, consider moving the resident and commercial areas closer to the industries.

The reason why close proximity is preferred is because Sims tend to walk 400 meters before attempting to find other means of transport. If the places are too distant, then Sims will require buses and public transport to travel. This can cause problems such as traffic jams, accidents, and other unwanted mishaps that may lead to delays in production and issues in your mass transit.

Thus, an ideal block is one in which a Sim can walk to his/her workplace, and also walk to the commercial area. Thus, when zoning, one should consider building small modular communities in which Sims can walk back and forth to reach their destinations.

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Of course, this ideal case will not always be there for the taking, and so you’ll have to look to create a highly efficient mass transit system as well.

A good way to improve the lifestyle of your Sims and to encourage wealthy Sims to come to live in the residential areas is by creating parks. Urban and Formal parks will increase the value of the land around them, which will encourage wealthy Sims to buy and create high quality houses.

Bear in mind though that this will only happen if you have good job opportunities for the wealthy (which is only available if you have good education). You can see all about the types of Sims and their job offerings in the Populations menu. Use the data there to fine tune your city, and zone accordingly.

Shortening everything up, it’s important to understand the plasticity of your zoning. You should not think that if you’ve created a zone in a specific matter it can’t be changed. In fact, change and constant improvement is extremely important for progressive lifestyle for your Sims. You should attempt to rezone after every small milestone, such as improved education and/or higher class buildings.

Don’t be hesitant in scraping away abandoned buildings and those which are of little use. You could use such places for better purposes. If you leave abandoned buildings, they can become a source of pollution, as criminals and homeless will look to occupy them, polluting the parks and other locations nearby.