How to Easily Make Money in Cities: Skylines II

A somewhat brief guide showing you how to make fat stacks of cash. May or may not also be a communist psyop.


I’m making this guide because I have actually been struggling to lose money in my cities and I want to give people this experience because once you know what you’re doing, you’ll find the game rather easy.

This guide was made on version 1.0.11f1 if the guide becomes too outdated I’ll edit it to reflect current changes but this advice should be very applicable to all economies, updates and maps.

Also if you want to jump ahead to particular parts of the tutorial if you think you’ve already got some parts down, go ahead but I recommend you at least skim for the important parts and tips within the guide.

Starting a City the RIGHT WAY

This guide is universal, whatever map you pick this will apply to. I’ll start a new city on (in my opinion the hardest map from analysis not actual gameplay) Sweeping Plains. It has a large landmass with lots of mountains making the building area less than a third of the map making industry tight and with limited rivers and water access making shipping difficult. The map is also tied worst for fertile land which will be very important. If you want an easier time look for a map like Barrier Island or Great Highlands.

I’ll have disasters on and Left-Hand Traffic, obviously the side your roads are on is not going to affect your economy but just your road layout in minor ways. Natural Disasters on will make this harder, you can turn them off to make it easier but I find they rarely affect my games. The theme doesn’t matter either you can even change them later in zoning.

First thing we do when loading in is consider three things:

  • 1. Natural Conditions such as geography, wind, water and the landmass around us
  • 2. Connections, Utilities and Outside Connections
  • 3. Planning the basic Residential, Industrial and Commercial areas

It is important to note that this will likely be temporary or partially demolished as well so don’t spend too much time here when you’ll likely rebuild this area later.


Natural Conditions

See below I’ve used the electricity view panel with a wind turbine to find the direction of wind. This is important and seeing this patch of powerful winds across the top right area of our build-able area is a good candidate for a wind farm.

Wind is my go to power source early on, it’s cheap and scales well in small populations, it becomes tedious at larger populations but we will evolve from wind power soon enough. It also demands no imports making our economy more stable in the long run and more cost effective.

Also you can check water flow with the water tab as well, but that will be touched on upon later.

Above I’ve made a quick plan taking into consideration that the wind will push air pollution towards that border. I’ve also determined in those two red marked squares I will build industry in the top marked square and garbage and other low polluting services in the bottom square. You can use gravel roads in the game to make cheap marking lines early on to plan areas like this out.

Also I’ve already made the conscious decision that these industries will be temporary, since a massive portion of build-able land is between my starting square and the border which I will eventually own and build to. There is a train line that is near that industry area, which would make it a great place to build a train station early on to make exporting and importing really cheap. Train routes and sea routes are very cost-effective ways of moving massive amounts of cargo. Sea routes require more planning since you can just build rail wherever you need to go. Which leads me onto our next section:


Getting your power hooked up to the international grid is one of the first things you should do. It is so important, not only does this prevent blackouts, but you’ll also be able to sell your excess power for a profit! $$$

Always make sure to bury your powerlines, use Page Down or the button circled in the image below. It is more expensive but it also means you don’t have to build around it later. Keep all your utilities underground, even your big power lines. Also those stats you see with battery charge and excess production seem to be simulated stats from my own game before that I was playing before making this guide, ignore that.

Water and Sewage is different, you will have to provide those yourself, you can only trade them by building an outside connection with sewage and water pipes leading out of the city. You should actually check for underground water supply first, it’s not the most cost-effective but you want to take note of this later for geothermal power. You don’t want to use ground water especially if it will be near your industrial area as they will leave ground pollution on top of wind pollution.

Below I’ve updated my plan and as you can see I’m using gravel roads to mark out and keep track of things. I don’t want to build over these underwater pools yet, since I may want to use them later. The one next to the industrial area is very risky though and I may ignore that plan later. I also marked the water flow on the river and as always make sure sewage and water pumps are at different ends of the water, upstream where the river flows from you should get your water, downstream dump sewage, it will flow out to the sea. And thankfully there is no environmental regulations telling us this is a bad thing!

I marked the sewage with an X and the Water with a dot with an X in it.

So once you’ve built your sewage and water in ideal places that wont contaminate water, connected the grid up we had the foundations to start working on the last stage:

City Planning

Lesson 1 in City Planning

Road Hierarchy, road types have meaning, place them correctly and you’ll have very few traffic problems.


Highways are to get out of the city or into the city, they move the most traffic at the fastest speeds, if traffic intends to leave the city from one place it needs a highway there.


Arterials are main roads and come off of highways to “pump” traffic through the city, they also will feature your largest connections within a district. Buildings can be zoned on arterials but the majority of a collectors job is through-traffic. Traffic wants to travel through an arterial to get to its destination, most destinations won’t be here. Yes the word comes from Artery, and like your heart they are the main channels that blood (or in our case traffic) will flow.


Finally there are, collectors are the main location roads, most services and buildings will be on collectors. Collectors can be small roads, alleys and even pedestrian streets, most people will live on a collector, work on a collector, arrive and depart from a collector. Most of your zoning will be on collectors.

So why was that important? You need to know all of this to plan out your city’s network from now and into the future, traffic problems cause economic problems, a city without functioning traffic is a city that cannot feed itself, work for itself or fix itself in times of crisis. Without setting yourself up for success you are bound to fail without rebuilding the foundations. This is also not a perfect teaching of road hierarchy but it gets the concept and idea across.

For instance this image below is how I plan most of my road network in districts, with an artery of four lane roads with two lane roads acting as collectors and pedestrian streets as sub collectors.

Also don’t forget in cases like the image below we can sacrifice a small amount of space to facilitate pedestrians. We want the least amount of people driving as possible and offer people the ability to walk or bike where they need to go.

People who walk instead of drive makes traffic flow on the streets better for those who need to drive like trucks, long travellers and services. People who walk also may not have the wealth to afford a car and we don’t want as many people in our population to be economically productive citizens.


Zoning is important because we also want to make the journey between residential and commercial as short as possible. You might think to segregate commercial and residential but this is not a smart idea, it will lead to a lot of traffic focused on a small area of your road network. Take the following layout for example:

Residential in between commercial zones, most of which face collectors rather than the arterial, this will mean most people in this neighbourhood will have their needs met on their very own street! Most will either work here or in the industrial district across town which will manage for now on mostly traffic connections…

Here you can also see I’ve made the arterial roads lead into the Industrial area with small collectors for the industries themselves this should facilitate the higher demand of traffic. I’ll also expand later on the Industrial area to the other side of the artery.

You should now be able to press play and let the sim run and people to come into your town! Don’t worry you’ll be losing money for a bit before you make money.

Expanding your City

Breaking from Traditions

Just because I said you shouldn’t segregate your zoning doesn’t mean it isn’t something that will or even should happen. For instance already I’m breaking from traditions in my first expansion right after the planning and moving in stage began:

But whenever you break the rules you should be doing so for a good reason. My reason is this services area near my starting village. It will contain light amounts of pollution so I don’t want the homes of my people zoned right next door. They will work there but I don’t want them breathing in the dust and fumes from sewage outlets and welding machines in the bus depot while they sleep and eat at home.

Also demand is asymmetrical you will need more residential than any other, so you’ll naturally need to experiment with how much residential you’ll need, I don’t know exact numbers but again the fun is in experimenting, and letting perfect not be the enemy of good. The grid is one of the best ways to plan a city, but learn to break up from the grid, you’ll find yourself having more fun that way.

Listen to your people

Chirper is actually a useful tool to see if people have some concerns that you’re missing. For instance someone is already complaining about the noise in the city. But no one has even liked them so this is problem something that only affects them.

But you’ll find that sometimes large amounts of people will like a post complaining about something, look into it, there’s usually a reason. Though for Mr. Morrison he’s probably wishing he was in Hawaii right now he’s really only got a problem about noise in a commercial shop. Commercial buildings produce some noise, Mr. Morrison is just a rich entitled prick who I’m renaming to Scott Morrison as a reference to Australia’s former PM. We’ll see if he has any more banger Chirps later in the guide.

Once you hit your first milestone it’s time to start really getting into things…

Milestone 1 – Getting services running!

If you don’t have any issues in your city, let it run in the background on 1 Speed, it’ll make you more money later anyways! If you aren’t making money though pause it when making plans or deciding options. You shouldn’t be making money by now so PAUSE THE GAME.

What do I spend my dev point on?

You only get one point, so most options are out of reach for you. I always go for the Crematorium first, burying people in graveyards or using landfills is always a waste of space, so always get Crematoriums and Recycling Centers/Incinerators up and running early.

You won’t build the crematorium yet, only build it after people start dying until then its a waste of money. What isn’t a waste of money though is your healthcare.

Build a Clinic now

Your citizens are not productive if they are sick and even less so when they’re dead, and until we figure out necromancy you’ll have to just give people effective healthcare.

Make sure to build it on a collector, in my case I built it in my services sector, though I plan to expand away from the clinic it’ll be more effective here since most people who suffer medical issues will live closer to the low pollution services area anyways.

Don’t be afraid to rezone old areas

Progress is quick, and you’ll have medium density rowhouses, more people near the services area means more people are closer to better services and more people live in better conditions.

Don’t be a slave to demand

Progress also doesn’t mean catering to everyone’s demands, low-density residential is fine, but you can ignore it! Don’t be afraid to take away options especially if you want to make a rich city!

Also we’ll need to expand our city borders…

Expanding the City early on

If you don’t need more space, don’t buy it

Save your land permits if you don’t need them, in my current situation, I don’t need to buy more land, I still have room to grow and I want to buy my tiles more tactically. See the two red circles below are my planned expansion areas.

Don’t forget to periodically check on your power

You won’t be alerted when you lose power since the national grid will sell you power when you run a deficit. You want to sell cheap renewable power abroad, so make sure to expand when you lose excess power.

The game will practically be playing itself now with you slowly expanding and building the city up you and soon you’ll start making money, I’m not making money yet but that’s because I’m pausing all the time to write this guide.

As you can see though if I turned the clinic off I would actually be making money. But I want the clinic running and I have nearly a million in the bank. The clinic is providing healthcare to the people and without it we’d be having problems early on.

Scotty Update 1: A quick break up

I’m gonna break up this guide with random updates from Scott Morrison, I advise you also follow a few citizens, following them makes them post on Chirper more regularly and you can track and see their lives as they live in your city.

Scotty however is breaking up with Irene, good for him, Irene had no future anyways.

I’m going to follow Irene and see how she’s doing though, she might grow as a person from this, though she clearly got a good severance and job since she’s doing really well.

Signature Buildings!

As you play the game you’ll unlock signature buildings, you can also try and unlock them by looking at their unlock requirements but just let them come naturally at first.

Make sure to place them though!

They offer great benefits for your city, and a well-being bonus is good for keeping your people healthy and fit!

Don’t worry you can always move them later too.

Milestone 2 – Serious Considerations

This is where planning becomes serious!

We’re going to cover a lot in this section but most importantly is Taxation mechanics!

What we’ll be covering in this section:

  • Taxation and Company Profits
  • Education
  • Sneaky Resource scouting

For now I spent my 2 dev points on the Recycling Center and got that down in the services sector of the town:

Taxation and Profit

Making money for the first time

Taxation once you know what you’re doing is relatively easy. There are a few tools we can use to make good decisions on our taxation.

Firstly, commercial is the most profitable industry by far, it is the point of sale of all goods and therefore will naturally always accommodate a higher profit margin.

You can use the “Company Profitability” view to best see how our industries are working on a general scale.

And yes by far the commercial sector is performing the best, so we can tax them the most. We’ll set our taxes later, we’ll get a good inference later on what our citizens wealth and income is like by checking the views: Citizen Wealth and Citizen Education

Note the home that is bright green in the above image and that white colourless building for reference of where it is.

In the below image it is also one of the richest buildings in the street too.

As you can see though education does inform wealth it does not ultimately determine it. You’ll want to progressively tax educated people more and more as their incomes and wealth can allow for it.

You will need to move your taxes around as you play, check periodically how rich your people are, and if you start getting a homeless population, that might not actually be a bad thing (more on this later)

So how do we set our taxes?

Using the information gathered earlier we can make the following inferences:

  • Commercial profits at over 30% we should tax them the most
  • Industrial profits are under 10% we should relieve their taxes to make them more competitive in the market for larger revenue and larger income in the long term
  • Educated people are wealthier we can tax them more than their uneducated plebs

My general rule is take the profitability of an industry, and tax it by two thirds of that amount, fine tune it from there, check on it for large profit spikes or crashes. In our case I rounded down to 20% for commercial, but I’m taking exactly two thirds of industrial profits which was at 9% with a 6% tax. I’m also taxing people’s income by 10-14% at increments of 2% in between each education level. This is not a hard science, in fact its not a science, its economics, and if economics was a science economists would get things right most of the time.

In time though we’ll want to prioritise growth once we’ve settled in and planned our city out. For now we’re taxing for profit and stability.

You could try and tax for maximising private profits but you’ll probably drain the bank too much doing so.


With Milestone 2 we unlock Education, you should almost always make space for more students. Except for one case which will be explained at the end.

With a more educated population, it will affect your economy in many positive ways that you may not initially understand but this guide will explain the most important ones.

Better educated Cims work in more expensive jobs

The highest paying jobs require the most education, this is simple enough you probably knew this already.

Students often desire denser housing

Dense housing means more people in your city for less space, more people you can cram into high density housing means more taxes! More consumption! More economy! Growth! Growth! Growth!

Better educated Cims use less city services

Cims that are better educated create less garbage, pollute less, cause less crime*, cause less car accidents, stay healthier and therefore use less of your precious, expensive city services.

*By causing less crimes I mean that because their job prospects are a greater range and are more likely to get hired are less likely to become criminals

There are many other reasons but essentially better educated generally means better cims.

Place Primary School and High School facilities

These you should always have an excess of, always room for more students, this will make sure the vast majority of jobs in your city is available to the vast majority of people, your economy can therefore be an open and robust system that people and companies can operate in relatively freely.

Also make sure every High School has a Library upgrade in it, it’s a small cost that will make it easier for students to graduate. Yes dropouts are a thing and you want as few of them as possible. Think of it as a more secure investment, you are spending all of this money educating kids, if they fail that is wasted money. You want to make sure your money is well spent on successes, not failures.

Another good upgrade is for the Primary School, a playground improves the wellbeing around the school so it’s a lot more cost-effective than you’d think! To me, Paradox is saying that watching children playing at a playground is good for you…

Finally we come to…


College and University, you should not try to meet demand with these, College and University are privileged positions, meant for the rich. You always want them full, never with a spare room available. You also don’t want too many people that educated, they’ll mostly be a waste of money and time spent studying and your own tax dollars. Highly educated positions are rare, take the village right now:

Less than 5% of all jobs require college education in this village, the vast majority at best require high school education. Use this tool to check on your open positions as you expand. When you start having large issues with higher education vacancies regularly, you need more college/university space.

Remember: Well Educated = College, Highly Educated = University, there are four tiers and you don’t want a Cim spending their time going through four tiers of education just for them to end up working at the Maccas drive-thru.

Sneaky Resource Scouting

We won’t get the ability to hoover up these resources yet, so we can’t even see them yet, but we can actually see it on the map and plan for it.

This might get patched out but you can essentially see from Milestone 1 where any resource on the may roughly is by opening up the land permit tab and clicking on tiles like so:

I bring this up now because we’ll soon need to plan our first resources out. Milestone 3 is up next and we want to know where we’ll want to build around.

The most important resource is fertile land, it is the least abundant, and because of grain’s superiority, we want as much of it exploited for farming as possible. So find the fertile land, and start planning around using it all.

I found a nice patch of it out to the West of my town which I’ll soon be able to reach, so my plans for expansion westwards for the time being has been made clear.

Even if you don’t want to use this, you’ll also not want to expand until Milestone 3, you’ll get the resources tab then and you’ll be able to see where things are exactly.

Milestone 3 – Setting up for the big industries

Milestone 3 is a very transitional point in time, you should only spend 1 dev point on getting the college just for the future. You don’t even need to spend it now but it’s better you spend it now and not need to do it desperately later.

One thing you should do is have a fire station, burning buildings don’t make money, you’ll always want to have fire safety covered because naturally they lower fire chances of occurring. Collapsing and burning buildings are going to ruin your economy since fire can spread very fast without an adequate response.

This section will cover the following:

  • Planning around resources
  • Livestock Farming
  • Stone Mining
  • Law and Order

By the end of this Section we’ll start making money and we’ll shouldn’t ever run into a prolonged deficit from this point on!

Planning around resources

Resources are KING they make all of your money, if you own the means of production, you are the owners of your own fate. As the state we do not own the means of production however, but we are best buddies with the people that do! Capitalists!

Resources are the best money makers in the game by farm the main reason makes sense when you remember this simple rule: YOU ARE THE STATE, NOT THE COMPANY

Industries don’t make the most money though? So why are we trying to develop them the most? Because while Commercial businesses make the most money per business, industrial businesses have a massive chain of logistics. With each step of the logistic chain we tax each portion, the raw resources, we tax that, the refining of raw metals to steel, we tax that, steel being fabricated into cars, we tax that, cars being sold to consumers, we tax that. Commercial taxes are the final stage but we as the state can tax every, single, part, of the production process.

Check your surroundings

Earlier we didn’t have access to this and I actually missed that we have fertile land really close by. But we’ve got a problem, a tiny issue involving my placement of the recycling centre. And thankfully because the game has been paused a lot it shouldn’t have polluted the ground too much.

So I quickly moved it out of the way to the north of the town where currently, nothing is.

We haven’t yet unlocked grain farming so for now we’ll just have to plan around it and expand our borders slightly for it, like so:

I had to move the High School, Power Transformer and High Capacity power lines away and made sure to bury those lines so they won’t be an issue again.

I made sure to then mark out the area with gravel so I don’t forget about it.

The other two pockets I didn’t mark with gravel roads since the one to the South is too far away to worry about now and the other is across the river, I know that now and will not expand across the river until I get farming up and running.

Livestock Farming

Livestock farming is different to all other kinds of farms: it DOES NOT require fertile land. So DON’T USE fertile land.

Instead place it close to other planned industries, because eventually we’ll be planning for more efficient cargo transport for those industries we might as well tack on this industry to boost their profits too.

First determine a rough area you want to occupy that has no resources on it, close to other resources like the above image, and place the building. Immediately hit Escape, as far as I know, all industry zoning is bugged if you don’t do this.

Instead use this tool in the below image, this seems to always work for me.

Another tip, when zoning, using roads and in most circumstances you can bring up the resource view like the below image:

First start using the tool in this case I’m using the zoning tool then select the ” i ” in the top left for info views, and select resources, you can get really close to resources without actually using the land designated for them like I’m doing in the above image.

Also if you’re struggling with getting your zoning to be perfect, turn off all snapping by hitting the Asterix symbol shown below:

But for roads, you want snapping on, it’ll help push your farm zone right up to the road using the most space possible. You should end up with something a little like the below image:

We can also, through expanding start to see a better plan and picture of our future city form:

In the above image we have a very detailed industrial plan laid out for us, three nearby fertile lands for farming, minerals as well. I have marked resource extraction points in red with “Rock” labelled in between the fertile land and minerals. The black central area surrounded by all of them will be an industrial area, all of the industries there will have access to all of those resources literally next door. To the south we have the perfect opportunity to make a cargo harbour for exports, we’ll also want a train station in the south too for setting up internal cargo routes but that will come much later. For now we’ve got our first plan to strive for.

Rock Mining

Following on from the Livestock Farming we’ve already determined the location of our rock mining project, and we’ve expanded our borders in line with the future plan to make a resource rich industrial working machine.

And due to the plans and developments of this industrial area I’ve had to make changes, even when you’re just starting out DON’T BE AFRAID TO DEMOLISH AND REBUILD. See below how I’ve reoriented the road to the future site of the industrial area. But my next consideration is that highway, that will be cutting my rock industry in half (see below):

I also don’t have the space to utilise the whole space the rock industry wants to take up. This only means we’ll have to settle for a smaller initial industry since I also don’t have highways unlocked yet so this we will have to return to fix up later. We know what we want to do with our industry so if you have issues like this don’t worry about fixing them now, they can be fixed later and they won’t stop us from making money now!

Knowing this isn’t going to be optimal now, and will be fixed later, the proximity to the highway should be seen as easy access for the mines making transporting easier and traffic removed from our village:

Also we’re using gravel roads for these industries, since they’ll only connect one business we don’t expect much traffic here, we can upgrade industrial roads to proper asphalt, but these resources are best left as gravel roads, especially now when cost cutting is very important to financial stability.

And thus we get a hodgepodge looking resource extractor for now but its potential is great for the future:

With these two industries set up, we can now let the simulation start running while we do the next step…

Brief Expansion Intermission

For this stage, you’ll probably need to expand a bit first, wait until you start running a profit. Personally I’m also only expanding my industry into the planned area and dezoning the old industrial area:

Also when de-zoning Industrial areas, check for ground pollution, it sticks around and will need to be cleaned up first before you zone anything else, especially Residential:

And always don’t forget to check taxation and your economic health, you’ll need to check it a lot in the early days of building your city, once your economy levels out it’ll be a much less tedious task.

For instance during my expansions and growth I changed my taxes like so:

Before you start making profit you’ll likely hit Milestone 4, once you’ve started making a profit or you’ve got that sweet $1M from Milestone 4 you can move on to 5E: Law and Order

More than likely you won’t see profits, even though you definitely have the potential to reach profits now. You’ll likely be fluctuating up and down between profits and deficits, we won’t see stable profits for a while.

Law and Order

We unlocked police in this stage, but now we’ve got the money and funds to back up having police in our village. So go ahead and place a police station, this will help keep our economy operating without incident much like the fire station. But at least with crimes, money that criminals might have made will come back to us through the criminals eventual consumption of goods, people getting robbed don’t matter too much in the short term, but we don’t want this to be an epidemic.

You’ll see that you have a stat for crimes committed per month and how many criminals you have, there is also a “probability” for crimes, which is not described well:

“The average likelihood of a building becoming a target for criminal activity” does not mean, “each building is this likely to be a target of a crime”. It means more along the lines of “Likelihood that this building will be robbed in this month”. Criminals also can only commit one or no crimes a month, I’ve never seen crimes occur more than the amount of criminals present.

Take my current private save:

These stats would normally ring alarm bells, 88%!!! That’s an insane rate, and an over 50% crime rate? Sounds like crime does pay in this city. Yes, it does… It pays me:

Like I’ve alluded to before, producing goods and criminals don’t really matter all that much as long as we make money from it all. And criminals still need to eat and pay rent, so despite the crazy crime rates, I’m still making literally $2M a month on this save… And when I took those screenshots I was in the process of building a ghost city:

So yes, this city was making fat stacks of cash despite the crime rate. Sounds like New York…

So don’t worry too much about crime affecting your economy, so why bother with it? Rich businesses and people still need police, without them we have no economy, so we can protect the rich neighbourhoods and businesses. If we happen to protect the poor as well then oh well, you can make your police force beat your crime rate but criminals are not a plague on your economy. Which is a lot more realistic than you might think it is.

If you’re getting seriously big effects from bad crime, obviously fix it, but if your citizens are happy, who cares how many criminals are running around?

Milestone 4 – Building for the future

With your forth Milestone, these dev points are going to be spent on getting Geothermal energy and Highways. I got highways because I need them to work on my Industrial area, but if you don’t think you need them yet, you can buy something else. The important part is geothermal energy, this is going to be very profitable!

We’ll be exploring a few things this segment:

  • Geothermal Power
  • Recreation and Parks
  • Offices
  • Profit, Growth and Lower Taxes
  • Grain Farming
  • Resources/Production Monitoring
  • Public Transport

Also a new tool we got is the district tool, this tool can also help with applying policies but you don’t need them with this guide to get anywhere. I usually use Districts to name suburbs and to plan out expansions:

Geothermal Power

It’s important to consider the placement of your geothermal power plant, expand your borders if you need somewhere further away to do this. For me I’ve figured out four decent locations for me to put it in:

It’s important to note that Geothermal produces noise, ground and air pollution in decent amounts so it needs to be upwind from residential areas and away from them too.

This rules out all but one location, however, I’ve got a better plan to expand my borders and build one on this island here since it’s very far away from everything and only has a small resource node for ore which I won’t cover by doing this.

And make sure to hook it up with the power grid by a large power line, it’ll need that throughput to export all that power abroad.

At this point though you’re gonna be strapped for cash, there’s no shame in waiting for money to accumulate or to take a loan to speed through it, we’ll be moving on with other projects soon too.

Scotty Update 2: BIG NEWS

So checking in on Scotty once more, he’s posted that he moved house:

But that’s not the big news, far from it, I followed him home one night and saw him having a conversation in his front yard with a young teenage boy.

Turns out he adopted a teenage boy, wow, what a great guy this Scott Morrison is!

But I knew something was up, just like we all knew something was up at Engadine McDonalds, Scotty seemed clean, yet he stank… And that’s when it hit me, I’d seen that workplace before…

What do you know, Irena, Scott’s ex works at that very place. Scotty didn’t adopt a child in need, he hired an underage, undercover and probably underpaid spy!

At least I can be happy knowing that my city planning has been working since Brett’s commute to work is quite literally a stone’s throw away.

Parks and Recreation

Not the sitcom, but the act of building parks for the purposes of recreation, and other buildings for recreation.

Parks and Recreation are a cheap, easy way to raise land value (desire), happiness, wellbeing and eventually tax rates (not directly).

There’s never a reason to litter your residential areas with more parks and recreation. Cover all residential areas solid green:

It’ll cost you almost nothing but time!


Offices are very different industries, they are a great buffer between low pollution zones and residential areas or in busy noisy areas. They require roads to be zoned unlike Residential and Commercial. So you’ll have to ditch pedestrian streets:

Offices produce “Immaterial Goods” (more on this later in the guide) and have a large draw from higher education employees. You won’t want a college right away but start checking the employment openings more frequently, this is where you need to start checking this tab more frequently:

The College holds 1000 students, when you get close to 1000 open positions in the Well Educated section, that’s when you need to place the College to accommodate for the demand.

Office profits are also far more sensitive to taxation changes as far as I know, even in larger cities with larger office industries they seem to be very sensitive to tax changes, likely because the companies who make these immaterial goods can just up and move on a whim to the next low-tax state. They do however make plenty of money compared to other industries and are a core part of the production chain, a necessary evil is to accommodate these picky capitalists for their productive forces:

So they get special tax rules from me, roughly half their profit is taxed unlike most where they sit at two thirds taxed. But again, this isn’t a hard rule even the two thirds rule, experiment with taxes to try and make your businesses profitable.

We’re starting to get to the point where we’re settling in economically, profits should be very stable and consistent now, you should be reducing taxes now to build up economic growth and profits.

Growth, Profit and Lower Taxes

This tooltip says it all really:

The amount of money people have left over is put into their properties, levelling them up. This will give us money in the long run, and we can accomplish this by lower taxes to give people more disposable income. This also works for businesses.

We’re now going to be doing our taxation in reverse, for people it’s much easier to find their resting point.

We just click this tab here to create a “Vibe Census” of the city:

Which gives us this info:

We can tax people as much as much as they stay happy and we don’t cause an exodus, this will change more as you provide more services to your people later.

With company profits you want to aim for 20% profit margins after taxing them, which for industry at this stage can be ignored, you’ll probably have to subsidise them to make it work.

This should make your economy set for a steady growth. Everything from here on will be making the biggest and most powerful profits you can.

Grain Farming

Grain is by far the most important resource in the game, but how and why?

Some reasons why are obvious:

People eat Food

Yes, mind boggling I know, but this is actually more nuanced in City Skylines, food is broken up into three consumables:

Beverages, Convenience Food and Food:

Looking at things this way, you’d assume Livestock, Vegetables and Grain are all equal under resources, but this isn’t true. There’s more to just these three products than meets the eye:

Not all food is equal

Convenience Food is by far the most demanded food as you can see in this resource tab here:

Food and Beverages are produced in excess (the green bar) meaning they are exported, but despite Convenience food being produced in greater quantities it does not satisfy internal consumption of the city. By far Convenience food is the most demanded food, but, convenience food also requires livestock, so aren’t they just two equal groups? No, not even close…

Industrial bases

Livestock farming produces inputs for Food, Convenience Food and Clothes, the meats, eggs, milk and other produce make up the various foods and the hides and leathers make up clothes:

Clothes are the last stage of their own production line:

Grain also goes into petrochemicals, which goes into clothes as well, and also plastics, which also goes into vehicles and computers, which also allows software development, media production. Grain is the base for over half of immaterial goods in your city, and nearly half of all material goods. Second to it is Oil which is tied to a lot of the same processing lines, only difference is you can’t eat Oil.

I shouldn’t need to explain it, but place grain farms, always have an excess of grain (and oil but we’ll get to that later, it’ll be unlocked at Milestone 8) it is the most critical resource in your city.

So with an excess of grain, be sure to check your industrial company profits and taxation soon, you’ll probably want to adjust it to configure it for growth now but keep an eye on it and lower taxation if you start seeing industrial profits dropping. But start taxing them so you can make money too!


As a filthy, degenerate capitalist economy, we want to make the most money possible and we want our capitalist to make as much money as possible. We must partake in the commodity obfuscation method of production, or in other words; develop the inefficiency of the capitalist mode of production for the means of profit.

We make tax money by the most complicated parts of our production chain, because at each step of production we get a cut of taxes. We can use this understanding to develop our next resources and decide what we want to work towards next:

Is useless, it only has one step in the chain, better to import it than waste fertile land on it in almost every case.

Just get made into beverages and food, useless, only slightly better than cotton, better to import it than waste our fertile land on it.

We would love to use Oil, since it is extremely complicated but we’ll have to wait until Milestone 8 for that.

Goes into steel which goes into machinery which is then consumed by industry, a small chain but steel also has metal inputs, metal ores.

Metal Ores
Develop metal which becomes steel, cars, and machinery, steel goes back into machinery. So Metal Ores is more complicated it is more important to develop. But we also can’t use this yet until Milestone 7.

This is the fundamental way to understand production and resources, how complicated is its chain of production? The greater its complexity the more worthwhile it is to develop it. The three outliers are Wood, Livestock and Rock, all of which are supplementary and don’t use resources on the map and are essentially “boosters”.

For Grain, Metal, Oil, Wood, Livestock and Rock (in that order) should be kept in a positive balance. The only reason we haven’t touched on wood is because it is unlocked after Rock and Livestock.

Here’s the current state of our Capitalist Utopia Megalopolis’ production of resources:

It’s not perfect but we can’t make it perfect until later when we unlock Oil and Metal Ore anyways I’ll also be zoning a forestry area but it is exactly the same as Livestock and Rock Mining, just zone it where no resources are near you industrial area.

Public Transport

I won’t go into too much detail with Public Transport, it is a great way to cheaply and efficiently move Cims around your city. If you’ve followed this guide so far then most of your public transport should be getting people to and from work. Especially in the cases of some of your resource industries where getting people to work:

Public Transport is not a business, you might be able to make a profit off it, but you’re far better off making it free just to move the most amount of people around as possible.

There’s a lot that goes into making public transport effective like how far away you should place stops, where you should place them, how to configure them, how many buses. But approach it with the idea of moving people from their homes to their jobs first. And if its for tourists from their arrivals to their hotels and from their hotels to the landmarks.

Conclusion and Further Recommendations

I want to keep this guide brief enough, you should be making steady profits now and building this city alongside the recommendations and outlines in this guide here is where I’m sitting now:

A very healthy, stable and growing economy that is profitable. I’ve got so many dev points spare, nearly $5M in the bank, from here there’s much more room to expand my profits and build my economy.

I could do with making my people a little happier but honestly they’re making me money so I don’t care about them.

I’ll do some quickfire recommendations on how to build your economy from here:

Train/Ship Cargo

You can fund and build up train or naval cargo routes to make your industries more profitable and therefore tax them more to make more money!

Oil and Metal Mining

As I mentioned earlier, this is where a lot of money will come out of for industrial profits, so build into those industries as well!

Internet services

Always give your citizens and businesses reliable internet, it boosts productivity and happiness, giving you more room to tax them!

Good luck with your cities and if you have any burning questions feel free to ask me and I’ll try to answer them!

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