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After some discussion on the forums and having seen what happens when you spectate from another computer it's apparent that this game does not work in real time. When you look at another city what you see is a snapshot taken at some point in the game, regardless if you're looking at it from the same computer as the one that created it or from another computer.

One experiment I did with my husband was I logged into a city and let it run while he spectated from another computer. What he saw was different to what I had. The structure of the city was the same, but the number of residents, hourly budget, and current simoleans was far less than what I had. I even bulldozed an entire road, dropped in a dinosaur and let it raze half the city, yet he saw nothing change. This is because what he was seeing was nothing more than a snapshot taken at some point in the past.

This is true when you are viewing the cities in region view. The figures and graphs means nothing. It's a predicted estimate, the numbers are bollocks. You could have a city in the region fully capable of educating an excess of 10,000 students, however according to the snapshot they have a population of 6,000 uneducated students and now they're on their way to fill your own schools, leaving you short of desks for your own students that your factories are whining about uneducated workers. On top of this the huge flock of sims are now jamming your roads, consuming more power and water, and producing more sewage and garbage than you can normally handle that you're having to tune up all your services, your uneducated sims are frequently injuring themselves or setting their breakfasts on fire and putting immense pressure on fire and health services, and crime rate is going through the roof as uneducated kids are creating a crimewave bigger than your poncy little police station can handle.

It's a massive flaw in the game, and quite honestly it's a region destroyer.


ok so we've all probably heard this thing about pathing issues, and it's a pretty big issue. It affects everything in the game down to which bus stop the bus goes to next and which building a sim goes to.

So what's so bad about it? Every sim in the game has a priority, and that priority is if it's closest then go there first, if it's full then go to the next place. While you can clearly see houses named after the residents the fact is they do not live there permanently. When the day is over and they return back "home", for them home is the nearest house to their position that isn't full. The same goes for jobs, schools, hospitals, commercial lots, etc. What this results in is the morning rush of every sim attempting to get to the nearest building to work in via the most quickest route available. This is why there's so many pileups on roads, since the sims are all trying to get to the same place at once, and this also includes sims in the region too hence the pileup on the highway hitting your working part of the city.

When that building is full they then move onto the next one and attempt to get in there, and this continues on until there's no more working sims left or no more buildings for work left. This is what results in buildings suffering with "not enough workers" or "not enough shoppers" warning. Let's say that each factory can hold a maximum of 300 sims each, and you have a city of 3010 sims. At least 10 of those buildings will be full of workers, but the last factory only gets 10 in it. Each day the same thing happens, the last factory only gets 10 of the 3010 sims whilst the other 10 buildings are full. Because of this the factory shuts down and becomes abandoned.

It is also the cause of "unskilled workers" warning. For example, let's say 3000 sims are educated at tech level 3 and 1000 are educated at tech level 1, and the first factory they hit is a tech level 3 factory. In the morning rush 500 of the tech level 3 sims manage to get in first whilst 2500 of the tech level 1 sims get in. The next day only 1100 of the tech level 3 sims get in first whilst 1900 of the tech level sims get in. Eventually the factory shuts down because of "unskilled workers".

Whilst having plenty of schools to educate the sims and zoning more residential/commercial/industry will help in balancing things out the thing is the game is forever changing, populations increase and decrease all the time, businesses will expand or fall apart, regional sims will even get there first resulting in your super smart sim being without a job or having to work at the local pizza hut because he got caught in traffic.

It's not just limited to sims going to/from work and shops, it's also an issue with services such as garbage trucks, buses, even emergency services. You may have a small town city with 36 buses but it'll still take 20+ mins for a bus to arrive because buses don't have set routes. Instead they head to the nearest stop with passengers, and if that means making a u-turn to pick up the passengers that appeared at a stop behind them which is closer than the one down the street then they'll make that u-turn to pick them up before heading on to the next nearest bus stop which may be in a completely different direction, or returning back to the terminal if it's closer. This results in buses following each other most of the time, unless one got held up at a traffic light whilst the bus in front picked up the next bunch of passengers resulting in the next nearest stop with passengers being in a different direction. If you set it up just right you could end up with buses going in circles from one stop back to the terminal.

A similar situation is with places like schools and hospitals. Clinics treat patients pretty much the same as hospitals, only that hospitals come with more features for speeding up recovery time and preventing illnesses from spreading. But rather than being driven to the nearest hospital or calling an ambulance the sims WALK to it. In an area with lots of polluting buildings it's like watching the zombie apocalypse as dozens of sims slowly walk to the nearest hospital spurting green goo as they go, even if the hospital is at the other side of town. If there's a clinic more closer to them then they'll go there instead, filling it to its capacity depending on how many sick sims are within that area and then moaning about it being too full, even though the hospital is more than capable of handling twice as many patients and is fully decked out with various expensive addons for speeding up recovery and immunising sims so they're less likely to get sick again.

As for schools it was worked out that kids are separated into 2 groups - kids and students. Kids who aren't enrolled are just labelled kids and those who are enrolled are labelled as students. What Simcity 5 doesn't do is then differentiate age groups or education levels of the students and instead piles them into the nearest school, so if you can plant a college you can tear down the grade schools and high schools and all your students will go study at the college. ok it's not entirely a bad thing, what it means is your sims don't have to go through stages of education and can come out of college as level 3 college graduates having never been to school, and you no longer have to be concerned about clogging your streets up with school buses that do their usual back and forth and round and around trips that take 5x longer had the sim decided to exercise his sorry butt and walk it instead. The only issue with this is that while school bus stops can cover every part of the map and have buses picking up almost every kid to get them to the nearest school, with colleges and universities the area they cover is pretty small and any extra rooms don't increase the area covered even if you plant them as far away from the main building as possible, so you're most likely to have less students travelling to them if they're too far away resulting in the need to have multiple colleges spread around and maybe even 2 universities. The lazy slackers...

Yeah, it's a mess, and it only gets worse when you add more to combat the completely cocked up system in a hopes that you can get your sims to work on time instead of taking a 4 hour bus journey back and forth down the same paths and having the roads cluttered up with regional sims who are hoping to get there first instead of you.

Now then, where is the nearest bed so I can go to sleep....


One of my favourite specialities in this game is the trade industry, like raw resource and manufacturing industries. These are pretty costly to begin with, and they take up a hell of a lot of space, but in the end they are well worth the investment not just for the resources themselves since they will eventually dry up, but for the production lines with the trade industry.

Not all cities have raw resources like oil, ore and coal. Having these resources will help you greatly to kick-starting your trade industry, but if you don't then you'll have to begin slowly educating your city into recycling. Even with raw resources it's helpful to have a recycling plant to save money on needing to buy stuff like metals, plastics and alloys globally or setting up your own smelting/refining factories to make them. In fact I find smelting and refining goods is far more hassle than it's worth. I mean sure, you're maybe saving money making your own plastics per hour in a refining factory vs purchasing them globally, but you'll need lots of land space and a large population to support it or you'll have too few workers to manage your other factories and jobs, and eventually you will end up having to buy them globally when the resources dry out. Save having to smelt/refine your own stuff for great works projects, otherwise you're wasting far too much land space and much needed workers for digging up and smelting/refining the raw resources, plus it'll require unlocking the metals headquarters and all its divisions in order to plant a smelting factory. The only other reason I can possibly see needing a smelting factory and oil refinery is if you got well over 300k population and multiple factories that can't keep up with the demand for alloys and plastics even when imported and recycled.

Metals and alloys sell for quite a lot on the market, so start stockpiling those. These are the current rates of the raw and recycled goods:

  • Alloy - 4,200 per 1
  • Metal - 3,150 per 1
  • Plastics - 21 per 1
  • Coal - 600 per 1
  • Ore - 750 per 1
  • Oil - 9 per 1

So as you can see plastics and oil sell for extremely little, but you're still gonna need to dispose of them to avoid your plant, drills and factories from closing down from being full of plastic and oil. A trade depot can hold the following amounts:

  • Alloy - 20 tonnes per container
  • Metal - 20 tonnes per container
  • Plastics - 2,000 crates per container
  • Coal - 20 tonnes per container
  • Ore - 20 tonnes per container
  • Oil - 2,000 tonnes per container

Trade depots can only hold 4 containers max, whilst a trade port can hold 6 max and can hold 5x more cargo per container. To be able to unlock the trade port you must either unlock the trade headquarters or a commerce division with one of the other headquarters. Commerce divisions are very important for being able to trade certain goods via the trade port as many are locked down, but the trade depot has no limitations.

To begin unlocking headquarters and their divisions you'll need to start stockpiling goods like alloy and metal to sell or collect a certain number of materials via mining or drilling within a day. If you have no oil fields then you won't be able to unlock the petroleum headquarters, otherwise this is what you will need for unlocking it and the divisions:

Petroleum HQ

  1. 9,000 oil drilled
  2. 160,000 simoleans profit in oil/plastics/fuel sales
  3. 800,000 simoleans profit in oil/plastics/fuel sales

At only 9 simoleans per oil you'll need to sell approximately 17,800 oil to unlock the first division, or 7620 plastics. That is the equivalent of 9 containers of oil or 4 containers of plastics in a trade depot. Once the containers are full export them dead on 12:00 midnight game with all trucks being dispatched. Having your depots close to the highway is a good idea so your trucks get in and out of the city quickly, then you're not nail-biting worrying if you'll get it all exported before it hits midnight game time again. To make the 800,000 simoleans you'll need to store and sell approximately 88,900 oil or 38,096 plastics, which is the equivalent of either 29 containers of oil in a trade depot or 9 containers in a trade port, or 20 containers of plastics in a trade depot or 4 containers in a trade port.


Now while personally it's not worth bothering smelting your own ores and alloys, if you decide to go ahead to unlock the headquarters and divisions anyways for a global works then this is what you'll need for the metals headquarters, but be warned you will need a large population to handle it on top of everything else otherwise you could face worker shortage issues, and your coal/ore industry will produce a huge amount of sewage and consume a huge amount of water:

Metals HQ

  1. 96 tons of coal or ore mined a day
  2. 160,000 simoleans profit in coal/ore/metal
  3. 700,000 simoleans profit in coal/ore/metal
  4. 2,000,000 simoleans profit in coal/ore/metal

Unlocking the headquarters is pretty easy with a fully decked mine. Your first division will need one of the following sales:

  • 39 alloy (2 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
  • 51 metal (3 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
  • 267 coal (14 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)
  • 214 ore (11 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)

You should find this easier to do if you're also exporting metals from the recycling plant.

Unless you really want an advanced coal mine you shouldn't need to worry about the other divisions, the ability to sell coal, ore, alloy and metals should already be covered by one of the other headquarters. If you really want an advanced coal mine then this is what you're gonna need:

  • 167 alloy (9 trade depot containers or 2 trade port containers)
  • 223 metal (12 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)
  • 1667 coal (83 trade depot containers or 17 trade port containers)
  • 1077 ore (54 trade depot containers or 11 trade port containers)

Since you've likely unlocked the smelting factory from the previous upgrade then you'll be making plenty of alloys to go on the global market plus sales of the metals from the recycling plant.


The trade headquarters is a bit more forgiving. To unlock it and its divisions you'll need the following:

  1. 72,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)
  2. 250,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)
  3. 2,000,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)
  4. 4,000,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)

This is where stockpiling metal and alloy comes in handy. If you've been working on unlocking petroleum divisions then this will cover unlocking the trade headquarters for you once you dispatch the oil, otherwise you'll need to sell either of the following :

Trade HQ

  • 18 alloy (1 trade depot container)
  • 24 metal (2 trade depot containers)
  • 3,429 plastics (2 trade depot containers)
  • 120 coal (6 trade depot containers)
  • 96 ore (5 trade depot containers)

As you can see alloy, metal and plastics are your best bet here as they require less containers. Good thing you built that recycling center, right? You did build one, right? And enough schools to educate your sims into recycling? Even if you don't want to make your city a green city you still need education in order to manufacture goods more efficiently, so if they're not already get your population studying their brains out.

If you're doing other things on top of exporting oil then you may possibly make the 250,000 simoleans deadline before midnight. If you don't then unfortunately you'll have to start again stocking up and exporting. Luckily you'll now have the ability to plant a trade port, which will save you on needing to use too much land space for trade depots as you can now store more goods, and if you have a rail or boat connection then you can push your goods out more faster with a freight rail terminal or cargo dock. This is what you'll need:

Trade HQ Upgrade 1

  • 60 alloy (3 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
  • 80 metal (4 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
  • 11,905 plastics (6 trade depot containers or 2 trade port containers)
  • 417 coal (21 trade depot containers or 5 trade port containers)
  • 334 ore (17 trade depot containers or 4 trade port containers)
  • 27,778 oil (14 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)

2,000,000 simoleans sounds like a lot. It is actually if you're depending on raw materials for sales. My advice here is to plant a division that allows you to sell alloy, metals and processors at a depot, otherwise you'll be up to your armpits in trade depots trying to match the requirements for the next upgrade. This is what you would need to meet the requirement:

Trade HQ Upgrade 2

  • 19,900 processors (2 trade port containers or 10 trade depot containers)
  • 477 alloy (5 trade port containers or 24 trade depot containers)
  • 635 metal (7 trade port containers or 32 trade depot containers)
  • 95,240 plastics (10 trade port containers or 48 trade depot containers)
  • 3,334 coal (34 trade port containers or 167 trade depot containers)
  • 2,667 ore (27 trade port containers or 134 trade depot containers)
  • 222,223 oil (23 trade port containers or 112 trade depot containers)

As you can see here processors are now your best bet, and plastics are now an important part of your business so you'll need to use them locally instead of exporting them. Your recycling center will not be up to keeping up with the demand on alloy and plastics so you'll need to import them. Import alloy and plastics and store the processors, and like before set them to export at midnight game time. It'll take a few days game time to fill up all the containers, especially if your city isn't very educated, so just hang tight in there, continue exporting metals since you have no use for them yet and this'll help pay for the plastics and alloys.


Hopefully you're using your head and taking advantage of making processors to meet the 2mil demand for the 3rd upgrade with your trade headquarters, importing plastics and alloy, exporting metals, have all 4 processor assembly lines activated, and have an educated population. You need to do this because in order to unlock the electronics headquarters you'll have to manufacture 7,200 processors in a day. Uneducated sims produce slower than educated sims, so they will not meet this deadline with 1 processor factory alone, and you must import materials otherwise you'll run out fast and your factory will close down until restocked.

Once your electronics headquarters is planted down you need to meet the following demands for upgrades:

Electronics HQ

  1. 7,200 processors produced
  2. 1,500,000 simoleans profit in electronics sales (14,926 processors, 2 trade port containers or 8 trade depot containers)
  3. 4,597,152 simoleans profit in electronics sales (45,743 processors, 5 trade port containers or 23 trade depot containers)

Oh hey, what do you know, you need 1.5 mil in processor sales for the 2nd upgrade, just as you need 2 mil in regular sales for your trade headquarters to upgrade. Do these 2 together.

Now you can drop a consumer electronics division and start making TVs and computers. This is entirely up to you if you want to, or if you need them for a global works. TVs and computers will net a very nice amount, almost double what you're making from processors, but since you're now converting your processors into TVs and computers you'll be waiting longer for payment but it's a good investment anyways as you'll be netting around *2mil per day in sales. If you're struggling for money then just keep selling processors until you've netted enough and are less panicky that your city might go bust. Chances are your hourly rate will now be in the negative whilst your industrial income will be supporting your city. Don't worry about this unless you have warnings about needing to zone RCI or increase taxes. You will also need plenty of residents to work the factories, otherwise they'll shut down due to lack of workers unless you got lots of regional workers needing jobs, but I would highly advise on having your own city workers since you can guarantee they'll be educated enough to push out as many products as possible. You won't need the 3rd upgrade from the headquarters, however if you feel like it you can go ahead if you want to import/export stuff like plastics, oil and fuel, but you likely got those covered already. You'll need 3 crates of TVs at a trade port to meet this figure and it'll also cover for the final upgrade with the trade headquarters.

*before expenses, data based on a city of 130k residents at level 4 education with 1 of each processing factory. Data results may vary due to layout of town, education level, population levels, etc.


I've been through a lot of trials and errors playing Simcity 2013, and it's taught me a lot about city building. I'm still learning, whether through my own personal experience or from reading/watching other peoples' testimonies. With so many guides it's confusing, especially when their advice conflicts with each other. One person says use street cars, another person says they're more hassle than they're worth. Personally I find streetcars quite useful, however like with all services they can be bothersome on highly congested roads. Imagine this - you have 1000 people using cars and you want to reduce those numbers by placing buses and streetcars, but in order to get 1000 people to use the public transport you'll need all 12 buses and streetcars in operation. While you've reduced the traffic from 1000 cars to 24 you've also created more issues of stopping/starting. While the buses and streetcars are doing this there's also school buses, a police patrol, garbage disposal team, and a wellness doctor stopping at every single house on the street causing a backlog of traffic slowly inching its way forward behind it, and that's not to mention the fire trucks and freight trucks that are doing their deliveries. Here's how to help with this problem:

  1. Use a high density avenue going from the highway and have this reach your industrial or tourist activities.
  2. Pace the bus stops so that they're not too close together - people can walk to them.
  3. Avoid putting school bus stops on avenues- those kids have legs!
  4. Increase road density for large residential areas to at least medium density to avoid being held up by public services.
  5. Avoid having too many roads attaching to the avenue. Stretch the blocks so that it takes another 2 to 3 blocks before meeting with a set of lights.
  6. Try not to go from 3 lanes to 1 lane straight away.
  7. Remove corners to avoid frequent u-turns by chipping away part of the road and replace it with a curve.
  8. Create dead ends for highly packed areas such as residential areas so that you create a 1-way in/out of it, or that it doesn't come back onto the same busy avenues.
  9. Try to arrange your city so that tourists don't get in the way of your residents trying to get to work, like putting tourist attractions on the outskirts of the city.
  10. If you can don't build houses on avenues that are surrounding the city being used for commuters. I discovered that by lining the avenues that were surrounding the city with houses all the way to the highway resulted in tonnes of traffic jams as people got out of their homes to go to work.

Other means of helping avoiding traffic clutter is to make use of the schools and HQ police/fire/health services. While they are a problem in themselves for visiting every single building it reduces issues in the future of having fire trucks, police cars and ambulances chasing up and down the streets, and educated sims are less likely to be a problem in the future.

Other people have suggested things like having commercial shops in your residential areas so that when your sims get home from work they don't have too far to travel to the shops. I haven't done this myself but this is something I'm testing now to see how it plays out, or if it'll create congestion in residential areas with people shop hunting.

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