- Residential areas need schools (elementary and high school) plus health care (large medical center). The best place to put them is in the center of each residential area. When the city is still small, it's also a good idea to put a library, museum, fire department, and police department in the center as well. This allows you to find and check them easily. But, of course, don't add all of these services at the start. (I usually just start out a residential neighborhood with an elementary school, museum and library -- set to the minimum levels. The museum will provide buses for the school -- even if the school is set to minimum coverage area.)
- This diagram shows how a completed residential area might look. The light green areas are areas that could be zoned for residential development, if watered, but left open or as parks if not. It also shows how services can be placed in one location.
- Residential areas also need a lot of open areas. 1x6 open areas can be used to divide traffic flow and also to provide space for possible bus stops, subway stops, or parks/recreational areas. Larger open areas are great for a college, softball field, large police station (when needed), and house of worship.
- Do not put residential zones next to the edge of the map. Sims do not like to live near traffic. It causes noise and air pollution. And there will be a lot of traffic going from one zone to another using the shortest possible route. The first money-making city I made had residential zones next to the edge of the map. I got so frustrated at their poor development that first I tried to torch them (which didn't work because of the smoke detector ordinance) and then I tried a meteor shower.
- Commercial areas need open spaces as much as residential areas do. Smaller open areas can be used for statues and small plazas. Larger ones can be used for plazas or rewards such as a farmer's market. Even larger ones can be used for larger rewards.
- It's better not to put commercial areas right next to residential ones. There should be a buffer between the two. Though, it is nice if there are some within easy walking distance. There should also be a buffer between certain commercial rewards and residential zones.
- I like to put passenger train stations in those commercial areas near residential areas. It helps increase traffic to stores near the stations.
- Farms are important when a city is just starting out. They employ a lot of minimally educated people. Plus they provide one of the nicer rewards, in my opinion, the farmer's market.
- They should be positioned away from commercial and residential areas. Commercial areas do not like being next to farms. Residential areas will develop well adjacent to farms but will soon complain about water pollution. Farms can be placed on slopes.
- It's not clear to me whether large or medium or small farms are better. Although farmland is cheap to dezone, farm buildings are less so. However, larger farms seem to produce more water pollution.
- It's possible to create a giant-sized farm with no interior roads by pausing the game during its creation. Zone for farmland to just before a road would appear. Then zone more farmland next to the original zone, etc. Unpause when the farm is large enough. (There is an upper limit on how large a farm can be made and still develop.) However, I recommend the "trick" detailed for low-tech industry such as farms.
- For a large city, you'll want to dezone farmland until there are no farms left. For a small town, you'll probably want to keep the farms.
- For the original version of the game, a town size of 3000 and farm population of 120 will give you a farmer's market, and a town size of 3500 and farm population of 240 will give you a state fair. (These numbers are different from the numbers supplied by the game. They are based on experience. However, for the deluxe version, the numbers are as supplied by the game.) Both the farmer's market and state fair should be placed with commercial zones. The farmer's market can be placed next to a residential zone, but the state fair should be quite a few squares away from any residential zones. (One web page said at least 17 squares away.)
- In general, these areas should be in their own separate city. Dirty industry produces a lot of air and water pollution. The pollution produced is so high that tech will only locate at the edges of these industrial areas. Farms also will not get settled when pollution is high. Trees and parks will help with pollution to a small extent.
- It's also a good idea to build train tracks through industrial zones and connected to neighboring cities. Freight trains will appear even without freight stations.
- For my first few cities I built bus stops when traffic became a problem. However, I like the "trick" I read about at simtropolis.com for zoning industry. Build a train track through the area you want to zone. Add a 3-square-long road that crosses the railroad tracks - as in the diagram at the right. If the area is zoned for farms, 4 farmhouses will develop on the road. If the area is zoned for other industry, a factory will develop at a corner next to the road. Then the rest of the zoned area will develop the same type of industry. There is no need to build passenger train stations at the crossing. Evidently, people just jump off the train as it slows for the road crossing. ;)
- High-tech industry can be placed in a regular city. When a residential city is well educated, the demand meter for that city and possibly neighboring cities will show demand for only high tech industry. Add industrial zones to a residential city gradually in the same types of places you would commercial zones. Be sure to add open areas and flower gardens.