After playing SimCity4 for a few weeks now and thumbing through a few articles on SimCity4 tips and tricks and strategies, I thought I'd offer a few of my own that I am as yet to really see mentioned or highly exemplified. I really don't want to go too much into repeating things that have already been said extensively elsewhere. I would like this to be worth reading.
1) 100,000 Simoleons Just Isn't Enough
Sure you could use cheats... but is that really fair game play? My sources say no. I personally employed the use of the "Weakness Pays" and "You don't deserve it" code when I first got SimCity4 to test the water and see what was available in the game. I got criticized by friends for this, even though my real cities were made without the use of cheats. To me, what I did was the equivalent of walking the route that I would be racing later.
In any case, I found a way of getting loads of cash without the use of cheats. It's very simple. Start a new city and lose lots and lots of money. When you lose lots and lots of money, you will be posed with options to regain financial stability and balance your budget, through little deals. Keep losing money until you get offered the Toxic Waste Dump, the Military Base, the Federal Prison, and that Missile Testing thing. Then legalize Gambling and build the Casino. Use your bulldozing tool and destroy EVERYTHING else. Accelerate the game speed to its highest, go take a nap or READ A BOOK, come back later, and you'll have millions of simoleons, compliments of toxic waste, gambling, prison, soldiers, and missiles that will no doubt be used to kill millions of Sims. All this money will really come in handy later, as I will explain. Especially if you want to make a HUGE city quick!
2) What do I do with all this cash?
Lower all your taxes to zero to encourage growth. Check just about everything in the City Ordinance. Build things now, that you'll need later anyway. And utilize the extra freedom you have with that cash to indulge yourself in new frontiers of city planning and strategy.
3) Get your Goodies... now!
There are a lot of little goodies that cost you absolutely zero. Those are so ideal to have. They can do a number of things. Encourage growth, raise the desirability, and fulfill other needs of your city. Be sure to build those as soon as you have the opportunity.
Now... what I found is that there is a trick for a few of them to build them earlier in the game. For example, you must build four City Museums with a monthly cost of 450 simoleons, before you can build the Major Art Museum with only a monthly cost of 90 simoleons. So why not build four City Museums in arbitrary places so you can build your Major Art Museum, and then bulldoze your City Museums? Costs less to maintain the Major Art Museum and it looks cooler. This can also get you're your Opera House. This is a bit costly just to build and bulldoze those museums, but it shouldn't be too big of a deal if you did the previous trick and have the millions of simoleons. You can do something similar to this with a few other things as well. Getting these earlier in the game can really be good for your city.
4) Traffic Noise and the Beauty of Busses and Subways.
I usually section places with three, four, or five squares, by whatever. Leave a line of four squares completely empty for future city plans. Later you will come back to it. I problem I noticed, decreasing the desirability was traffic noise. This annoyed me because I put so much effort into making it a nice place to live with no crime, good education available, and good health care, among other things.
By building busses and subways, this not only helps with traffic, but decreases traffic noise and increasing the desirability of that area. I haven't built subways and bus stops at the beginning of the game. Rather, I plan on it for later. You may go about building it at the beginning, but I usually don't think they are very good since they won't be very well utilized with a low population and such. Moreover, adding these busses and subways will cut commute times, which will affect your far away Sims. This is another beautiful thing about the subway. It's truly amazing. Just remember that you have to be very selective with where you build them. Look around and build them where they really need to be built. Otherwise, you'll get subway stations that will go completely unused and will just consume your resources.
5) Trees Are Your Friends
They have NO monthly cost! Place trees everywhere you don't intend to put concrete. Don't use them as park replacements, or anything. But they can be very useful. Place some palm trees near your shores where beaches can't be built and buildings won't be. Place them on the sides of mountains and hills and the likes. It's a good way to deal with pollution and has NO monthly cost.