Cities Skylines Zoning Guide – Residential, Commercial, Industry and Offices

By   /   Mar 14, 2015

Zoning in Cities Skylines allows you to decide what kind of houses, shops, and factories will be built in a specific piece of land, and also adjust the location of these areas. This is an extremely important part of Cities Skylines as it allows one to give structure to your city.

For more help on Cities Skylines, read our Beginner Tips, How to Manage Transport and How to Generate Electricity.

Cities Skylines Zoning

Zoning works hand-in-hand with building roads, so make sure you are aware of both zoning and road design when you jump into managing empty spaces in your city.

The Basics

Similar to Sim City, Zoning in Cities Skylines is done by designating specific parts of lands for constructing housing and other buildings. However, the way zoning is managed in the game is more streamlined and automated as compared to Sim City.

Empty plots available for zoning are visible as white squares between local roads within a city. These blocks are then assigned different zone types, after which the respective buildings are made on them.

In order to start zoning, you’ll need to create a road structure that can support it. Once you have created the road, you will need to use the Zoning tool to fill in the areas available for zoning.

There are three sub-tools to do this:

  • Fill – The fill tool allows you to assign zones to complete vacant regions.
  • Marquee – This tool gives you extra control of your zoning – you can draw a square shaped area, and all zone cells within that area will be assigned to the selected zone type.
  • Brush – Brush tools allow zoning by “coloring” the empty cell. This zoning tool comes in two sizes.

Zoning Types
There are various types of zones that can be created. The categories they are divided into are based on the types of buildings they will spawn. These are:

  • Residential – Residential zones provide housing for citizens.
  • Commercial – Commercial zones will have shops and other services selling the goods produced in the industrial zones.
  • Industrial – Industrial zones provide jobs for people and products for the commercial zones.
  • Office – Office zones provide pollution free jobs for higher tech level citizens, but they produce only a small amount of goods.

Buildings

Whenever an empty region is assigned a specific zone type, it will gradually start spawning buildings that go according to the type of zone. These buildings will be of varying sizes, and will have a type of structure and function unique to each zone.

City Service Buildings
Some buildings, called the City Service Buildings (offices, industrial) will require roads right next to them. These buildings will display completely different stats and information when compared to residential buildings.

For these buildings, you should keep an eye on the Capacity/Efficiency, vehicles in service, and upkeep costs. Generally, it is a good idea to build offices near Industrial zones for improved efficiency of the building.

Residential Buildings
Residential buildings should be isolated from noise and industrial pollution, and will generally make up the core of your city.

Not that such buildings will act very differently from City Service buildings, because there are certain factors you will have to consider. The first and most important is leveling.

After certain requirements are met, Residential Buildings in your residential zones will level up. Higher level residential buildings will provide better living conditions for your citizens, and will also be able to tolerate higher taxes.

When a building levels up, you’ll hear a sound and it will start showing reconstruction. However, residence leveling is closely tied to Education level as well.

Buildings can have a level from 1 to 5. In order to achieve level 4 or above, you will need to have a university. Also, increasing the land value of a zone will also play a role in leveling your building.

In order to increase the land value of a residential area, you will need to invest in improving the leisure rating. Leisure is improved by adding parks and other recreational sites near residential buildings.

Be sure to check out the infographic overlay of your city – red buildings are those that are struggling with leveling, and green are the ones that are thriving.

Try adding parks and shopping malls next to the red ones to improve the land value of the residential area. Each type of recreational building has its own effect and range, so it’s never too bad to experiment which building works best for your zones.

However, they greatly differ in upkeep and construction costs, so make sure you are investing according to how many resources you have.

You can also apply policies like High Tech Housing to your buildings to increase the value of your houses. This will turn homes into ‘smart homes’, which will greatly improve the everyday life of a citizen.

You can apply these policies worldwide or by creating districts.

Density of Residential Zones

There are two types of densities of residential zones: low density and high density zones. Each type has vastly different type of houses, which attract different types of citizens.

Low density Residential zones will have 2-5 households, will upgrade into nice villas, and are usually occupied by families. High density Residential zones will have 9-24 households, will upgrade into tall buildings, and are usually occupied by adults.

High density Residential zones will be unlocked once the population exceeds 7,500. There are numerous benefits of using high density zones, but there are also massive downsides as well.

Generally, high density zones allow you to cram more citizens in lesser space, and the aesthetics that come with tall buildings is also nice. However, they have several massive downsides. The biggest of all is that they tend to over-crowd the roads that run next to them.

This will create large traffic jams, and a lot of citizens will get late for work. Also, the use of ambulances, garage trucks, and other vehicles greatly increases, adding to the issue.

In addition to traffic management, you will also have to consider the added utilizing of services provided by hospitals and other facilities in high density zones. You will also need multiple educational buildings, and death care facilities in order to provide for your citizens in such areas.

For this reason, you should start off with only a handful of high density residential zones and a good bit of low density residential ones. However, be weary of de-zoning well-established low-density zones, as it can have a lot of negative effects.

De-zoning

You can de-zone already-created zones if you like, and utilize the empty zone for other types of buildings. However, while de-zoning, you need to take a lot of things into consider. The first and foremost is the level and general value of the buildings.

If you are planning to de-zone a residential area with high-level buildings, you will lose a lot of educated citizens, which can have a detrimental impact on your city.

It is usually advisable to consider de-zoning only after your city has been developed well enough, and when you are running out of space.

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