Money Saving Tips for any City Design
Please PM Soldyne if you have any questions about this article.
Part of building a successful city is making it economically prosperous. I have noticed that a lot of new and old players alike seem to have trouble balancing the budget. This seems to be the number one problem that chases a lot of newcomers away and makes old players turn to cheat codes and money lots. I myself started the game having problems but as I read through the countless posts here on Simtropolis and did some of my own experimentation with game mechanics, I have compiled a list of money saving tips to help keep new cities in the black.
This list is a compilation of ideas about how to cut costs in a city. There are numerous (if not too many) threads about how to make money but cutting costs can make earning money that much easier.
I want to say before hand that this is a compilation of ideas from myself and ideas from numerous other players here on the forums. As such, I will not take full credit for these ideas but I am also unable to give total credit to any specific set of people for any particular idea.
1.) Manipulate Funding on Civic Buildings: This is probably the most common piece of advice and yet the most overlooked by new players. Use the query tool and select either a hospital or educational building. Here you will see some information about what the buildings capacity is and how much it is being used. Slide the bar down until the capacity is just slightly more than the usage and you can have large medical centers servicing small rural towns for mere dollars and still gain the full benefits of the coverage.
Another idea is to lower the ambulance/bus radius coverage of the building. Most people don't do this because they may not be aware of it, but if you lower the coverage funding to 0 you will still get a radius of effect. The radius will be smaller but it will still be just as effective as full coverage. There are other benefits to doing this as well. Lowering coverage funding can allow you to have lots of buildings of the same type for very little funding.
In fact one of the problems with civic buildings in larger cities is that they get over capacity very easily. A hospital for example can only hold about 3,000 patients at full funding (the same capaict for a single residential high rise), but in a large city you will need multiple hospitals to handle the thousands of patients. If you lower the funding on radius you can afford to put in more hospitals at strategic locations to better handle the need and it will actually cost less overall.
2.) Keep Education to a Minimum: One of the most common and useful goals of most cities is to attract High Tech Industry. To do this you need education. The question then becomes how much education do you really need. While utilizing the above idea you can raise EQ to about 120 by only using elementary schools and libraries. Libraries are quite cheap. You can satisfy quite a bit of demand for §10 - §20 a month and libraries increase land value and desirability where ever they are placed. Most people think that you need colleges, museums, high schools and universities to get HT but this is not necessarily so.
As far as education is concerned it should be one of the first civic buildings placed (perhaps even before your fire station). It takes a long time for a new city's EQ to raise to an acceptable level for IHT so start educating your sims as early as possible.
When you are ready to have your EQ raised to a higher level, you can start adding the other buildings. Remember that the college, university, and museum each affect an entire city. I have had cities as large as 500k and more which only needed one of each. More colleges and museums will only benefit your city if your first ones are over capacity.
Tip: you need many museums to get the major art musem reward, but once you have the reward placed in your city you can get rid of the extra museums.
3: Saftey Last: One of the most common pieces of advice is to place your first fire station when you have your first fire. This is good advice. When you are trying to balance your budget, only place fire stations in trouble areas where you seem to have lots of fires. When your city has a healthy income then you can work on better fire coverage.
Police stations are the last thing to get put in. Crime in SimCity4 is determined by population and education levels. The higher the education level the less crime there will be. I had a city of 500k with an EQ of 200, no police stations and only 6 crimes on average per month. If you have a good education system (as described above) you wont need police stations to handle crime. Police stations do increase desirability and will help to attract more residence but is not a requirement and should only be considered as a last addition to most city designs.
4.) Manipulate Funding on Power Stations: Yep, just like you can with civic buildings, you can manipulate funding to the power stations to reduce costs and reduce power output. With a new city, a 6,000MW power station is producing way more power than you will need. Simply move the slider to a lower funding level and keep raising it as you need more. It will still produce just as much pollution but for a small city just starting out its not a big deal.
5.) Never Use a Water Treatment Plant: Most people (myself included) when starting to build our first cities will put all the utilities in the same spot; power, trash, and water pumps. The problem with this is that if water pollution levels near a pump rise too much, then they stop working. Most people will put down a water treatment plant to quell the problem. This costs a LOT of money. To fix this problem before it starts build your pumps as far away from your industry, power, and trash facilities as possible. I usually put them on the opposite end of the map. Give your pumping station its own wind power plant (and reduce its funding as well) and you will never have to worry about water pollution again. Your advisors will still complain about the pollution but your pumps will keep working and that is what matters.
6.) Free Trash Disposal: Landfills are the first trash option that most people fall back on. Tthis is the worst option by far. It is expensive, and takes up way too much space and has a huge negative desirability. The incinerator is what a lot of people go for when the landfill gets full. However, the incinerator is very expensive, being §1,000 a month. For a large city many incinerators may be needed. another option is to create a trash city where the entire city is nothing but incinerators and/or landfills and then export the trash to the neighbor. all of the options are very expensive.
One option which is very much overlooked is the idea of funding your incinerator for §0 a month! Thats right, you can fund the incinerator for no money and it will still burn up to 500 tons of trash every month. You can have 1 or 10 waste to energy plants burning your trash and it will cost you nothing to maintain. There will be a small cost for trash pick up but that will be very small.
The only draw back is that the pollution is still produced. To get around the pollution you can download Simgoobers Modern Waste To Energy plant from the STEX. The idea with that lot is that filtering technology has been improved so the lot produces less pollution. Tt has a higher plop cost and higher monthly fee but with this idea the fee is waived.
Those are all the money saving tips I have for the moment. Have fun and if you learn of more, be sure to pass them along on the forums.