After you’ve laid down roads and are connected to the highway, you’re able to plot city zones. There are three types of zones: Residential, Commercial, and Industrial, referenced in game as RCI zones. Each zone type has a specific purpose, and finding the correct balance of all three is key to your city’s success. To start building, select a zone type from the Zone menu, and then click and drag along any road. Hold CTRL to highlight and fill all the zones along the side of a road. Keep in mind that you can only build next to already established roads. Your Sims will automatically build appropriate types of buildings based on Zone and density, which is determined by the bordering road.
NOTE: The size of a road directly correlates to the building’s density level. For larger developments, build larger roads, or upgrade smaller roads by selecting them and choosing an upgrade option.
On the left side of the Zone menu is the unzone icon. Click the icon, and then select an area to clear out the current zone. You can then lay down a different zone type.
While on the Zone menu, use the Data Map buttons to switch between different data maps.
Building Density: Displays the progress toward density upgrade of every structure in the city.
Land Value: View the land value of Residential and Commercial zones and see which buildings cause positive and negative effects on land value.
Industrial Tech: Displays the level of technology being developed in your Industrial zones and the buildings which influence Tech upgrades.
Population: View population data and examine where Sims are located.
Residential: View happiness and money statistics for your residential areas.
Commercial: View the movement of shoppers and tourists purchasing merchandise and souvenirs.
Industrial: View the movement of industrial freight in your city.
Tip: Holding Ctrl while zoning allows you to zone entire blocks with a single click.
Residential Zones are areas which you can set on the outline of your city's roads to signalize that the area is apt for constructing homes and moving in. Create green Residential zones to designate where Sims can build houses and move in. As soon as part of your city's parameters are labeled as a Residential zone, Sims automatically move in, but it’s up to you to keep them there. Laying down large blocks of green can mean a large population, but if you don’t have enough jobs, power, and utilities to keep all your residents happy, then a lot of those Residential buildings are going to be abandoned. Be smart about where you place homes, and be mindful of air and ground pollution to avoid creating a sick ward.
Remember - SimCity is a hyperrealistic game about city-management, so think as a normal resident of a city would and consider the conditions that your city has!
Lay down blue Commercial zones to indicate where shops and offices can be built. This type of zone draws in profit for your city, though not as much as the Industrial zones, and provides jobs for your Sims. Commercial zones provide Industrial buildings an outlet to sell their products, and a place for your Sims to spend their hard-earned Simoleons to buy happiness. However, if there aren’t enough jobs, your residents will stay at home or go to a park rather than go out and shop with Simoleons they don’t have. No customers? No businesses.
Industry is what really drives your city and creates the most profit of the three zones. By providing jobs, industries provide money for your residents. Industries supply Commercial buildings with goods. Money keeps Sims happy and allows them to shop, which in turn makes the Commercial zones prosper. Industrial zones also produce the most amount of pollution of the three zones. Because of this, it’s a good idea to build your city’s industry away from the residential parts of town.