SimCity Social Layout Planning Guide

SimCity Social Layout Planning Guide by cityplanner

I have an 180k pop city without buying any diamonds. I ended up wasting the 35 free lv 1-10 diamonds early on, which I regret because there’s that 10 diamond stadium offer at lv 28 that I could have got for free. So basically I have almost no items that cost diamonds in my city, just a cupcake factory and ferris wheel. Anyway, I’m going to share some layout and gaming tips and tricks.

You get 35 free diamonds from lv 1-10. Save them, do not spend them. As you level up, you’ll get discounted offers. The only level up discount offer that I’m aware of that is worth the purchase is the Stadium at lv 28 for 10 diamonds, but I’m currently only lv 30. If you’re going to buy and spend diamonds, I suggest only buying the discounted level up deals, and only the businesses, factories, and attractions. don’t buy the resource bundles or the decorations.

Starting out, it’s best to make horizontal rows of roads from the main vertical road, spaced 6-7 apart. Line the top and bottom of the row with cities, and place decorations and attractions in between them. This is useful early on because decorations and attractions aren’t much different in value and radius just starting out. See attached screenshot for a good early layout. Despite being small and undeveloped, this layout is worth 6600 pop, and it should be good enough until you get the Arcology and 2500 fame landmarks.

Don’t bother with 1×1 or 2×1 sized residential zones early on, it’s a waste of time and space. Later on when you get landmarks and high value attractions, your layout priorities will change.

Roads are your enemy. They take up valuable space and don’t offer any benefits. Try to use as few roads as possible. The one exception to this – roads on the railroad tracks. You can build roads on the railroad tracks one at a time (click twice on a single railroad track tile), then the game will treat the railroad tracks as a congruent “road” which allows building placement. Since you can’t get rid of the railroad tracks, you might as well make them useful.

Place residential buildings by the waterfront for the 90-110% waterfront bonus. This effectively doubles the value of those residences, assuming they don’t max out at 660.

Your first and most important land expansions should be to the alien wreckage parts around the map. Any other expansion is secondary. You’ll want to build the Arcology asap. You can then use those expanded areas to place factories for waterfront bonuses.

Always keep some room open for a swap space, since you can’t place buildings into your inventory. If you pack your city too tightly it will be too difficult to make adjustments later, and you might get frustrated. Don’t forget you can put most/all decorations into your inventory.

Finding a twin cities partner is very important, as it’s one of the only ways to get the Unity ingredient. The higher your partner’s twin cities level, the higher the drop rate of rare items such as Bliss, Wrath, and Unity, which are needed for the Arcology and 2500 Fame buildings. Find someone very reliable and dedicated to quickly raise your twin cities level.

Make lots of friends on facebook. Visit them for the first visit bonus and 5 bonus energy. You’re limited to 20 daily friends to visit for the 5 bonus energy (past the first visit bonus), so choose some dedicated friends to work on relationship levels with. This isn’t as important as finding a reliable and dedicated twin cities partner.

Fame is the best way to get around spending tons of simoleons and resources. Make tons of friends, get those first visit bonuses, and send lots of gifts to everyone to earn +2 fame per gift accepted.

You’ll want to purchase Factories and Businesses with Fame, namely the Chemical Plant, Computer Factory, and Convenience Store (after obtaining 1-2 2500 fame buildings). If you spend simoleons or resources to purchase a business or factory, you will spend several days at least paying it off before it generates any profit at all for you, while Fame purchases begin rewarding you immediately.

Quests are a tricky situation in SimCity Social. They often cost a lot of simoleons, yet the rewards are paltry. I recommend avoiding most quests until you’ve got a good footing, as they will usually slow you down once they start demanding that you purchase 30,000+ simoleon buildings.

Farms are a waste of space. They’re only useful for quests or clicking on wild animals (such as horses) on the map. Have as few as possible. Not even Don has a Farm, that’s how much they suck.

When visiting your neighbors, do actions on their factories and businesses. If your neighbor’s factory/business is ready at the time they click your visit, your visit will cause the factory/business to pay out without your neighbor having to spend energy to do it.

After the Arcology..

Once you have the Arcology and Fortress of Woe or Gaia’s Garden, your layout plans will change to surrounding them with as many buildings as possible. It’s preferable to place them within waterfront range to maximize the waterfront residential bonus. The Arc and 2500 Fame buildings are self operating – they don’t need to be next to a road to operate.

I suggest building the Gaia’s Garden unless you really like the Fortress of Woe’s looks, because it’s much easier to be nice to people (and your partner) and earn Bliss than it is to be mean and earn Wrath.

After some experimenting, I came upon an interesting technique to further maximize residential layouts, which I call the “scaffolding trick”. A residential building that requires roads will operate perfectly fine as long as the building is underneath at least one “green tile”. However, you can’t easily move residential buildings into that position, so you need to first give it a valid placement with all green tiles covered, then bulldoze the nearby road and replace it with a more distant road that still grants the building at least one green placement tile.

In other words, an overextended road is built as a “scaffold” so the residential building can be put into place, then the unnecessary parts of the road are bulldozed to free up space, leaving the residential building still operational. Using this scaffolding trick, you can place a huge number of buildings around a landmark with minimal road coverage. This doesn’t work with businesses, factories, etc. so don’t bother with those.

Here are two screenshots showing the scaffold trick. In this first shot you can see the road (scaffold) extending to the highlighted residential building. In the second shot, the road has been bulldozed, but the building continues to operate, because it has at least 1 underlying ‘green’ tile when you select it to move. You can use that free space to place any other kind of building that fits.

You’ll want your Arcology and other landmarks to cover a building spread similar to this screenshot:

Overhead view of the city:

Once you’ve got the Arcology and 2-3 2500 Fame items, you’ll notice expansions and buildings getting absurdly expensive. 160-250k+ land expansions, 120-160k+ buildings, and very expensive landmarks for purchase. Attractions like Zoos, Stadiums, etc. cost a fortune to build and upgrade as well. At this point I suggest dropping some of your population to place businesses in residential areas for simoleon bonuses. In my current city layout, I could have more pop right now, but I dropped down to fit in some businesses for payoff bonuses. This will pay off in the end, unless you’re impatient and want to spend diamonds on bags of simoleons and resources to afford the extremely expensive land expansions/buildings.

Each house near a business grants a payout bonus. A lv 1 house grants a 2% bonus, scaling up to a lv 9 house granting an 18% bonus. So a business surrounded by lv 9 buildings would give max payout bonus. Place your businesses in between residential areas – you’ll lose pop, but gain a steady income.

Landmarks on their own probably won’t max your residential buildings, aside from waterfront properties. You’ll want some nearby attractions to help max each building out. As cool as landmarks like the Oasis Tower look, you actually get more population density by stacking Observatories close to eachother.

Expand south: it’s the cheapest direction to go, and offers lots of open land.

If you want to friend me on FB, the name is Matt Sims.

All tips and layouts here have been formulated by myself, so if you have more tips, advice, etc. they are welcome to be posted in this thread.

I will also update this thread with my simcity progress.

Update: Hit 180k pop. It turns out stacked Observatories are better for pop density than landmarks, so I bought a few too many Oasis Towers. Oh well.

City at 180k pop:


I’ve been spending my fame on convenience stores, chem plants, and comp factories instead of saving up for another Gaia. I’m focusing on pop as a long term goal because progress will grind to a halt without enough factory and business investment. Still at 91k, but keep in mind I swapped about 25 houses with businesses to get high payout bonuses (100%+), so I’m short quite a bit. I’m also buying the cheap expansions onto river/island territory and placing factories there for waterfront bonuses, instead of buying expansions that are better suited for pop growth.

As an aside, one of the ways you can tell high pop simcash players from non-simcash players is that the non-simcash players will have a huge business/factory investment out of necessity to deal with the extremely high expansion/landmark prices, while the simcash spenders will have far less investment. Now there’s nothing wrong with spending simcash, but some ppl will deny it when it’s rather obvious. If you have a 100k+ pop city with a lot of land expansions and only a few poor paying businesses/factories, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on, because those 300k-500k+ land expansions and landmarks don’t pay for themselves.

Population is more of a long term goal once you’re past 50k or so. At that point, you’ll want heavy business/factory investment to make progress in land expansion and the best landmarks, rather than trying to build a zillion Gaia’s Gardens or whatever.

Here’s a screenshot of my current progress. I’m probably due for a big remodeling.

Also, I’m going to explain a bit why the quests suck. Let’s look at the total cost of the 4 quests I have right now.

3x Tennis Court 72000
Department Store 60000
Supermarket 38000
A Farm, which is a 5×5 waste of space.
High Tech Lab 40000

Total cost? 210000 simoleons. And the reward? About 33 exp, 14250 simoleons, and 500 materials. The tennis courts are nearly worthless, and the buildings will take a long time to pay themselves off. Talk about a huge rip off. Quests only seem to slow you down and waste your time/energy for poor rewards.

Now let’s look at why farms are such a bad deal, starting with a lv 2 animal farm:

550-132 / 4 = 104.5 per hour
1760-396 / 8 = 170.5 per hour
2750-528 / 12 = 185 per hour
4400-792 / 18 = 200 per hour
5940-704 / 24 = 218 per hour
11220-1320 / 36 = 275 per hour

Even the highest paying option only gives 275 simoleons per hour, while a non-upgraded Convenience store gives 300 simoleons per hour and is only 2×2 size. It doesn’t get much better with a 20% boost at lv 3. You might say that this 275+ per hour is nearly energy free, but is that worth the 5×5 size of the farm? I don’t think so. Maybe it would be worth it if you can only log in once per day and don’t have more than an hour or two a day to play, but if you’re that kind of player you’re probably not interested in min/maxing in the first place.

Time to look at more numbers.

Train lv 1

4h 62.5mat/h
8h 100mat/h
12h 104.1mat/h
18h 111.1mat/h
24h 112.5mat/h
36h 141.6mat/h

Train lv 3

4h 81.25mat/h
8h 130mat/h
12h 135.4mat/h
18h 144.4mat/h
24h 146.2mat/h
36h 184.16mat/h


Mats/Hour En Cost/Hr Efficiency
Ice Cream Factory 600mat/h 30e/h 20mat/te
Toy Factory 360mat/h 12e/h 30mat/te
Furniture Factory 250mat/h 5e/h 50mat/te
Workshop 300mat/h 7.5e/h 40mat/te
Mercedes Benz Factory 360mat/h 7.5e/h 48mat/te
Origin Factory 360mat/h 7.5e/h 48mat/te
Train Station Lv 3 36h 184.16mat/h 0.027e/h 6820.74mat/te
Computer Factory 156mat/h 2e/h 78mat/te
Train Station Lv 1 36h 141.6mat/h 0.027e/h 5244.44mat/te
Car Factory 120mat/h 1.33e/h 90.22mat/te
Soda Bottling Plant 90mat/h 0.2e/h 450mat/te
Lingerie Factory 76.8mat/h 0.63e/h 121.90mat/te
Chemical Plant 75mat/h 0.5e/h 150mat/te
Fireworks Factory 72mat/h 0.4e/h 180mat/te
Handbag Factory 38.4mat/h 0.13e/h 295mat/te

Simos/Hour En Cost/Hr Efficiency
Diner 2400s/h 30e/h 80s/te
Mayor’s House Lv 9 1500s/h 0.027e/h 55555s/te
Mayor’s House Lv 10 2083s/h 0.027e/h 77148s/te
Bakery 1440s/h 12e/h 120s/te
Car Dealership 1200s/h 7.5e/h 160s/te
Comic Book Shop 1000s/h 5e/h 200s/te
Mexican Restaurant 876s/h 4e/h 219s/te
Bowling Alley 750s/h 3e/h 250s/te
Gas Station 640s/h 2e/h 320s/te
Coffee Shop 480s/h 0.75e/h 640s/te
Burger Joint 495s/h 1.5e/h 330s/te
Supermarket 333s/h 0.66e/h 504s/te
Convenience Store 300s/h 0.5e/h 600s/te
Mocktail Bar 288s/h 0.4e/h 720s/te
Farm lv 2 36h 275s/h 0.027e/h 10185s/te
Chinese Restaurant 235s/h 0.2e/h 1175s/te
Pizzeria 217s/h 0.1e/h 2170s/te
Boutiques 133s/h 0.08e/h 1662.5s/te
Spa 111s/h 0.05e/h 2220s/te

Every hour you get 20 free energy.

Farmer’s Market
Department Store
Bank Tower
Office Tower

m/h and s/h are materials and simoleons per hour, while e/h is energy per hour. s/te is m/h divided by e/h, giving a resource rating per time energy. If you only log on once or twice per day, you’ll want buildings high in efficiency rating so you can get the most out of each click when you log on. On the other hand if you play more and have the energy to spare, you can choose from a less efficient but higher resource per hour building.

Each house near a business grants a payout bonus. A lv 1 house grants a 2% bonus, scaling up to a lv 9 house granting an 18% bonus. So a business surrounded by lv 9 buildings would give max payout bonus.

Any decoration larger than 1×1 or 1×2 is not worth it (at least if you have to pay for it). If it’s a 2×2 decoration, you should probably put a house or business there instead.

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to show a road layout for the arcology. Here’s a sample for you guys to check out. This layout includes 46 residences, so it’s not exactly optimal, but it’s quick and easy and doesn’t require messing around with scaffolding. It’s placed in the perfect spot to hit a lot of waterfront residences. This setup alone is worth 18k pop, even with no other residences on the map.

I’m making 40k simoleons every 2 hours when my convenience stores are ready. Since I play about 12 hours a day that’s 240k a day plus the animal farm payout and 36k mayor bonus. And with that I can afford one of the cheaper expansions or another Oasis Tower.

New collectible icons.
Buildings now animate in shop menu.
New road icon on sub bar when you click redecorate.
Buildings now appear in your inventory after completing new quests, but you still can’t put your own buildings in storage yet.
Plane messages are now naughty or nice colored (red/yellow).
Attraction radius indicator fixed.
Emergency vehicles seem to respond better.
List of friends names to send/request gifts is laggier.
Game hangs at 70% instead of 80% for some people.
You’re now rewarded diamonds past lv 10.
You’ll now see an energy icon in the portrait bar to indicate that you have bonus energy to spend at a neighbors.
Lv 3 train times/rewards changed.
You now get a diamond from level 11 onward. That means 35 diamonds from 1-10 and 39 more diamonds from 11-50 (assuming level cap is 50), plus 6 diamonds for 50k simos at 40, lv 41 200k mats for 10 diamonds.
Some buildings have changed collecible requirements. Convenience Store costs more collectibles to build.

So let’s say you’ve saved up your pennies and you can afford a Gaia’s Garden. Here’s a road layout showing a perfect spot to place it, just south of the arcology. You’ll get closer to maxing out the buildings south of the arcology while affecting a whole new area of residential houses. Also note the convenience stores on the side. You can move these into the residential areas to sacrifice pop for more payout. The only thing this city is lacking is more factories and more land expansions. Despite having very little expansion room to work with, this city has a pop of 35k.

The chance of getting a Wrath, Unity, or Bliss drop is 10% if your neighbor is at max level.

So you’re late in the game (like me). You have more fame than you know what to do with. What do you do with it? Build Chem Plants then bulldoze them for simoleons. 2000 fame converts into 73846 simoleons.

Continuing with the road layout city, we’ve got expansions to the south rather than the west. Why? The land to the south is the cheapest in the game, so you can expand there the fastest. We’ve opened up the southern shoreline and placed attractions there to max out the buildings there.

Here’s another simpler way of determining your efficiency w/ energy limits:

Divide 20 by the energy/hour of the building to determine how many of the building you can have within default energy limits. 20 is the amount of energy you regen per hour.
Multiply that number by the building’s payout/hour rate.
You now know both how many buildings your energy regeneration can sustain (and subsequently how many buildings you might need to make), and how much payout you’ll get from it per hour.

For example:

20/30 = 0.66
0.66*2400 = 1584

Convenience Store
20/0.5 = 40
40*300 = 12000

20/0.08 = 250
250*133 = 33250

20/0.05 = 400
400*111 = 44400

Similarly, to determine if your current set of buildings is overcapacity or not:
Add up the energy/hour cost of all of your businesses/factories.
Is it over 20? You’re overcapacity.

In any case, it’s a moot point. Convenience Stores are still typically superior because they take no time to pay themselves off, while most other stores take 50-100 clicks just to pay themselves off (assuming 0% payout bonus).

Land Contracts are capped at 40 per expansion. Simoleon costs are capped at ??? per expansion.

Don’t upgrade your businesses until you hit your energy limits. If you collect on your convenience stores and run out of energy every 2 hours, you’re pretty close to your limits, so it makes sense to upgrade at that point (or obtain more energy efficient buildings like the Spa).

For a similar reason, I’m not big on buying businesses for simoleons as they take 50-100 clicks to pay themselves off, which might take you weeks depending on how much you play.

On a similar note, materials are not nearly as important as simoleons. You mainly need materials to buy more Oasis Towers and upgrade your attractions and a few businesses, while you need a huge supply of simoleons to keep buying increasingly expensive land. So tossing a few thousand mats into upgrading your convenience stores isn’t a huge deal.

It seems that land expansions are capped at 40 land contracts. No idea if there’s a simoleon cap per expansion (I hope so).

Observatories and Zoos are a later addition to your city, mainly used to max out your existing buildings to 660 and fit in tight waterfront areas that landmarks are too large for. And yes, Gaia’s Garden gives 1800 base pop, which somewhat makes up for its large size.

So now that I’ve expanded across the river to the south expanse of the map, I’ve been poking around with roads again, seeing what’s possible and how far you can stretch things. First, a piece of road has an invisible radius of 2, in the same square shape as every other decoration, attraction, and business. So on to the next road trick.

Here we have a poor residence that has no road access.

Keeping the radius of the road in mind, we’ll now build a “bridge to nowhere” across the water. This road is close enough to the residence that it’s now considered connected, even though it’s literally across the water.

Expanding on that theme, we can build a 2nd bridge from across the river and provide even more road coverage while using a minimum amount of valuable ground terrain. I call this the “bridge to nowhere” trick.

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