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It pays to start your city away from the map centre #0801
Updated: 8/17/01 OS/platforms(s): All Versions: All

Contributor/author(s): Bernard Ng

I used to love to start my city at the centre of the map when I first began playing SimCity. It made sense because then the part of the city with most history would eventually become a nice downtown and also allows your city to develop evenly, from the centre outwards.

However, I realized that had problems. And most of them can be overcome if you choose to start your city somewhere further out, in other words, where you start would eventually be somewhere in the suburbs, or at least, a peripheral part of your city. I typically choose a nice flat piece of land about halfway from the centre to the edges, usually close to a corner. Here are some distinct advantages why starting away from the map centre is the smart choice:

  1. Your sim businessmen and industrialists beg you for connections by the time your town has become a small city. If it is situated at the centre of the map, it might be very costly to build that connection, especially if you are playing with a very hilly terrain (might involve tunnels) or have to cross several waterways.
  2. All your NIMBYs should be situated as close to the edge of the map as possible, including industrial areas (especially when you just begin, since that is when industrial areas are at their most polluting) because they lower land values and increase pollution for their surrounding areas. However, zoning them too far away from your population centre stresses out your infrastructure (and very few young cities can afford many expressway and railway links to the outer zones) so it only follow naturally that you should also zone your first residential areas slightly closer to the edge as well.
  3. Most mayors like to have an ornately planned city centre (some I notice use that ?plop? cheat and place green lawn tiles and residential filler tiles to create the effect of a vast expanse of lawn at the city centre with great effect) and when starting out very few can afford to leave all that space and have so much foresight. It is smarter to leave the building of the downtown later when there is money to make things come alive. Until then, build away from it. Building the new downtown later also allows neat placement of all those reward buildings without bulldozing other buildings. (for example, by the time you get the stock exchange, your old town centre must be entirely surrounded by zones).
  4. Also, most initial town centres are cramped, because the commerce sector is weak when the town is at its infancy. Hence, if that area is going to become the future downtown, it would be either very small or might involve a lot of relocation of sims as the new commercial areas displace a lot of residential, and perhaps even industrial areas.

See if this works for you. So far it has worked for me every time!

See also
Simple cities for a beginner
Land value: the center of the equation
Land value: points for the young city
The map center effect
Creating suburban sprawl

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Last updated: 8/17/01

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