games

SimCity BuildIt — Initial build & layout

My approach to starting up new city, up to Level 16

I’ve been playing SimCity BuildIt for years now. I was increasingly frustrated in last year or so since I used up all my possible expansion slots and essentially got stuck with no room to expand.

The good folks at r/SCBuildIt – especially the very helpful Katdanzer – recommended to start a new city, under new account. Then later make sure to connect that account with your original one and use the new one as some sort of expanded storage and feeder city.

This gave me a chance to build fresh. Here’s how I did it.

General layout

Your initial target is just build up and expand until you can cover roughly 24x24 area with just residential areas ® and few required utility shops. Also, make sure to move the industry as much as possible to the edges of the map.

Here’s the final layout I aimed for:

First – group all the R areas in the same corner, towards the beach.

Sprinkled between them are Hardware and Building Supplies Store but they don’t have to be there. I just did not need to move them yet.

Industry is far to the right, to avoid contaminating the Rs.

Government buildings are in-between, since they are not affected by pollution.

Since those buildings take up 3x2 area, I use the remaining row of 1x1 areas to place water towers and small Wind Power Plants.

This is the most efficient use of space.

When to level up

You can freely level up as you wish until the Level 5. You basically build Rs, upgrade them as they appear, build first two stores etc. There is only one rule: build Wind Power Plants and Water Towers as soon as they are required.

Level 6 is dangerous, since this is where citizens will demand Fire stations. While you can build smaller ones at first, I consider them a waste of money. It’s better to save up some coins and go straight for the Deluxe Fire Station, which costs 21k. Earning this much is hard since the only way to earn money is by residential build and upgrade, which will increase demand for Power and Water utilities.

Thus the idea here is to have enough Power and Water supply so you can freely update the Rs and thus earn the coins before you need the Fire protection. If I recall correctly, 3 Water Towers + 2 Wind Power Plants is enough at first. I never build the Coal Power Plant as I despise pollution.

I stay on Level 5 until I reach Power & Water 1818 supply/demand ratio and only then I move to Level 6. At first I ignored the requests for Fire stations and went straight to upgrading only Rs and Power and Water until the very top edge of the Level 7. Do not upgrade to Level 8! (More on this later.)

After some time, some of the Rs will be abandoned due to missing Fire stations but you will have enough room to continue building and upgrading other residential areas. Citizen happiness drops but hovers between 80-90% thus still giving you decent tax income as long as you have Power and Water. That’s far more important than Fire protection. Hence money will still flow in and at some point you will have 21k available.

Refrain from building new stores — they are very expensive at this stage of the game — until you absolutely need them. I place Building Supplies and Hardware Store and nothing else for a really long time. If the residential upgrade requires something from the newer store — say veggies from Farmer’s Market — I would ask for a different offer until I get one I can satisfy with existing factories and stores.

General tip: do not rush and blindly build everything you see. Wait until the City Achievements appear and then fulfill those; it’s one of the most valuable money makers this early in the game.

The magic happens when you get the 21k and place the Fire station. Your citizen’s happiness rockets back to 100%.

Expansion items

By this point, you will be given storage expansion items from the opinion balloons; keep collecting them as much as possible and upgrade your storage as much as you can. As clever people said, general rule is to aim for 10× ratio between your level and maximum storage capacity. Thus Level 6 = 60, Level 7 = 70 etc.

Stay on Level 7 as long as you need so you earn enough money to build 5-6 Water Towers and until you can build 2 Deluxe Wind Power Plants.

My steps are to first build one Deluxe Wind Power Plant which costs 15k then wait until I earn 9k from tax and selling items to citizens. At this point, bulldozing two smaller Wind Power Plants (which are worth 12 power units total) will give you back 6k simoleons and you will have 15k to replace them with another large Wind Power Plant worth 22 units.

Now you have a choice to make: how you will earn 35k simoleons? Play the long game and stay on Level 7 and earn money from tax and selling to citizens. This will take a while, few weeks of daily play at least.

Or level up and rush through until Level 11.

Level 8 to 11

On level 8 you will be asked to build Sewage utilities. I hate polluting utilities so I go straight for the Deluxe Sewage Treatment Plant which costs the mentioned 35k. It gives you 55 supply units which is just above what you usually need here. No brainer.

Citizens are very sensitive to sewage thus tax income will drop heavily. It’s not uncommon that citizen happiness drops down to ~50%, which leads to very low tax income. Hence the mentioned choice.

If you have planned your Rs inside the 22x22 grid, then that one Deluxe Fire Station is enough to cover them. Which means you have enough room to rush through build and upgrade and earn money that way. Interesting but brutal money making strategy: as citizens abandon areas, bulldoze them down and re-build. This will keep earning you money and your 4445 Power/Water supply will be enough.

Make sure to spread out the R upgrades as the game tends to favor some locations and keep offering the same spot. Upgrading a building too much will cause traffic jams and you will have another reason for unhappy citizens.

On Level 9 replace the factories: Basic factory takes the same room as Small, costs just 500 Simoleons but has one extra production slot. Very much worth it at this point.

On Level 10 you will be able to use area expansion items. First expand beyond the industry area; you’ll see why when you get to Level 14.

Make sure to not upgrade to Level 12, because that’s where you’ll need to add Police stations. Stay on Level 11 until you have the Sewage sorted out and until you build more Power and Water units. Always plan ahead with every utility.

Level 12-13

Police Precinct is the way to go. Costs 36k so make sure you have a steady income to get that amount. Stay very long here and pile up some coins, you will need them.

CRITICAL: Around levels 11-13, you will probably have enough Citizens to get access to Trade Depot (8k) and Global Trade HQ (10k citizens). As you get here — stay here. Not only will the game give you a lot of area / storage expansion through people opinions but you have the highest possible chance to encounter those items in the Global Trade HQ.

As you level up, you will have more possible items and thus less chance to get expansion items. It is critical to stockpile up as much as possible now. Storage items are much more important. I recommend to stay for a long time on this level and just keep collecting the expansion items. A month or two at least.

Level 14-15

This is where you will need to build Waste Management utility. Garbage Incinerator is horribly polluting but costs just 15k and gives you 40 supply units. Recycling Center has supply of 70 units but costs 60k (!). That clean air costs a lot so I would go here for the two Incinerators until I have enough money to replace them with Recycling Centers.

Incinerator’s 16x16 pollution area will not be an issue if you have expanded as I recommended at Level 10. Place them as further away from residential areas as possible and you’ll be fine.

Level 16+

On 16th you’ll be asked to provide Health Services. Hospital is 32k and covers a 24x24 area. If you place your Deluxe Fire station, Police Precinct and Hospital smartly, they will take up just 6x6 area and cover 24x24 grid of houses. This would honestly be enough to build a nice little city which you can keep there for a long time.

Start adding schools, transportation, parks etc – this will all increase your population. Take it slow from here and plan a lot. Keep collecting money — you can never have enough. At some point, add another trio of Fire/Police/Health and expand into another 24x24 grid.


I have 3 cities now. My main city is at Level 56 and I’m building it for years. Main issue with it is that I have 280 storage capacity and it is very tight. There are so many ways to play the game – Contents of Mayors, Club Wars, Regions to builds — which require considerable resources to play.

I built two more cities which I deliberately keep at Levels 11 and 17 and use them to collect storage expansion items. Through dummy Facebook accounts, I have connected them as friends and use the smaller cities as feeders for the main one. Once I get my main city to 600 storage capacity, I’ll see what to do with the smaller ones. Will probably use them to build some wild layouts.

SimCity is wonderful game. It’s very complex above Level 18 since there are so many stuff to do, multiple currencies and resources. You now have Regions with up to 3 different new lands separate from your main city. Very rich, very complex game. If you are patient and like to build slowly, I can easily see you playing the game for a decade.