How to Build a Megalopolis in SimCity 4

Written by j.m. soden
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In SimCity 4, the object of the game is to build a thriving megalopolis, equipped with industrial, residential and commercial zones. As in real life, your task includes everything from balancing the budget to reducing pollution levels and coping with the occasional natural or supernatural disaster. A key to building a successful megalopolis is to resist expanding too quickly. A constant awareness of expenses and energy consumption is crucial and requires time and patience. Growth in SimCity 4 is exponential, which means you should expect a slow gradual move-in rate at the beginning, but once people and businesses start coming in, you may have a hard time keeping them out.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Create a basic plot. At the beginning of SimCity 4, you will be given the opportunity to create your own piece of land. Although mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers all sound exciting, they can present difficult challenges to novice players. Begin with a flat plot of land and reconcile the edges so that you can make connections to neighbouring cities. You may want to surround your plot of land with a thick layer of trees. Once your city begins to develop, trees will help minimise pollution and keep residents happy.

  2. 2

    Establish a power source. Wind power is environmentally clean and cost-efficient, but you will require a lot of windmills to power an entire city. Start with a natural gas power plant positioned somewhere near the centre of the grid. If you place a power source in a corner, it may not reach all portions of the grid. Initially, you will want to lower the output of power to save money. As your city grows, you can increase the power levels to meet demands.

  3. 3

    Develop zones for residential, commercial and industrial growth. Residential zones offer areas for people to live. Light residential zones will result in suburban developments while heavy residential zones will attract apartment complexes and high-rise condominiums. Commercial areas will attract businesses where residents can shop, while industrial zones will give residents a place to work. Since industrial zones create pollution, your residents will be happier if the residential zones are separated from the industrial zones. However, keep in mind that long commutes will also anger residents. Consider building a highway from the primary residential zone to the industrial zone to reduce traffic congestion and commute times.

  4. 4

    Connect all zones with power and water supplies. Homes and businesses will be abandoned if fresh water, plumbing and electricity are not available. Connect zones with power lines and water pipes. If not using a fresh water source, such as a lake, you can connect pipes to a well or water pump to hydrate the city.

  5. 5

    Watch taxes carefully and listen to city advisers. Typically anything over a 9 per cent tax rate will raise eyebrows and possibly hurt the growth of your city. Do not use taxes as a way of countering excessive spending or you will just dig yourself into a hole. When revenue streams are steady, look for ways to beautify or enhance the city, but avoid taking out loans whenever possible. Overcoming a flailing budget is one of the most difficult things to correct in SimCity 4 and leads to the implosion of many megalopolises.

Tips and warnings

  • Start small. If you try to build too big and too fast, your economy will suffer as you will not have the infrastructure to support the growth. A gradual growth strategy will let you address problems before they get out of control.
  • Avoid too many roads. Highways can take a lot of traffic off the streets of downtown. Broken roads or too many one-way streets will cause chaos in urban areas and give your transportation adviser constant headaches.

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