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This article explains the basics of SimCity Buildit for new mayors. Learn about population, building types, roads, city services, disasters and more.

Tips Currency Buildings Roads Items Expanding Regions Hot spots Achievements Challenges Events Play offline
  1. Increase your population

    Happy neighborhoods attract more residents, so take care of your city! Your population counter appears at the top of your screen, indicated by the blue “people” icon.

    • Building and upgrading residential zones increases your base population.
    • Maintain your population by providing essential Services.
    • Boost your city even further with cool Specialization Services like Parks, Education, Entertainment, and Transportation.
  2. Keep your city happy

    If you fail to keep your citizens happy, they’ll abandon their homes and leave town. There’s one other very good reason to keep them satisfied—the happier the populace, the more taxes you will receive.

    • Check the smiley face happiness counter on the left of your screen. If the face is less than green, there are several ways to find out why.
    • Opinion bubbles give you advance warning of problems like traffic jams, lack of services, boredom, or a dirty factory in the neighborhood.
    • If red exclamation marks appear on the icons on the right of your screen, investigate by tapping them immediately!
  3. You can also get a visual check on how happy each individual zone is by selecting the Government icon in the Services menu.

  4. Maintain essential Services
    • Government buildings are required to help run things smoothly and keep you solvent with Simoleon taxes and SimCash Achievements.
    • Basic Services:
      • Power
      • Water
      • Sewage
      • Waste (garbage).
    • Emergency Services: 
      • Fire forces
      • Police forces
      • Health facilities.
  5. Boost your city with Specializations

Specializations add an extra-special layer of activity and excitement to your city that citizens will want to be near, with some incredible buildings and stat-boosting functions.

Choose your Specializations by deciding how you want your city to look, or which activities you value most for your citizens. Different Specializations make different types of City Achievements possible.

Tip: Parks, Gambling, Entertainment, Landmarks, Education, Worship, and Transport all help to keep your citizens happy, occupied, and less likely to complain.

Check out the blue bars that appear while you’re placing your Specialization building! The bigger the bar, the bigger the population boost. Pretty special altogether, really.

There are three types of currencies in SimCity BuildIt:

  • Simoleons (§): This is your everyday currency. You’ll need Simoleons for things like purchasing different types of buildings or upgrading roads. You can earn Simoleons as you play, or buy more from the store.
  • SimCash: Use SimCash to speed up Get a SimCash bonus for every City Achievement target you hit! SimCash can also be purchased in the store. You can also convert SimCash directly to Simoleons.
  • Golden Keys: Golden Keys get you access to premium buildings. These can’t be bought with either Simoleons or SimCash; they must be earned by successfully completing cargo shipments or rebuilding your city if disaster strikes.


Factories produce raw materials (like metal, chemicals, and wood) to keep your city growing. 

  1. Tap on a factory and select the material you want to create by dragging it on top of the factory building.
  2. When manufacturing is complete, your items will appear on top of the factory, where you can tap to collect them.

Commercial buildings

With commercial buildings (e.g. stores and markets), you can combine and reuse materials to make new, crafted items. Use seeds to make tomatoes, or craft metal into nails! 

  1. Tap on your commercial building and tell your citizens what to craft by dragging the item on top of the building.
  2. You’ll see your finished, crafted items appear on top of the building when they’re done, and you can tap them to collect them.

Note that if you have Dr. Vu's Random Generator, it can mimic any crafting shop of your choice, but only one day at a time. After each day, it will mimic a different shop.

Residential zones

The manufactured and crafted items from your factories and commercial buildings can be used to build and upgrade residential zones in your city.

When you place a residential zone, it gives your citizens an area to start building homes. This boosts your population, gets you closer to your next level up target, and keeps the Simoleons coming in.

  1. Place a residential zone next to a road to start the building process, then tap the hard hat icon to view the building plans drawn up by the architect for the work ahead.
  2. Building plans show you the items your contractor needs to get the job done.
  3. Once the building plan materials are gathered, drag the building materials on top of the building, and the work will be completed automatically.

Upgrading buildings

Upgrading is important to increase your population and also to keep your citizens’ happiness levels up. 

Wherever you see a yellow hard hat icon, a building is ready for an upgrade. Tap the icon to see the building plans and rewards available, then get manufacturing!

Moving buildings

Press and hold a building, drag it to a new location, and hit the green checkmark to confirm the move. 

The white outline below the moving building shows where it will sit in your city.

Bulldoze buildings

Tap and hold the factory or building to demolish, then tap the bulldozer icon that appears on the right side of the screen. A confirmation message will appear to confirm your decision. 

Remember: bulldozing can’t be undone. After you bulldoze a building, you lose that building and any upgrades you had in it, if it was a residential one.

There is no bulldoze option for commercial buildings.

Roads are the crucial arteries of your city; buildings must be connected to the rest of your city with a road in order to function. Roads not only carry traffic connecting your citizens to the outside world, they also carry vital Services from building to building such as power, water, and sewage. And don’t forget that your emergency services need those roads in order to reach homes in need!

Tap the road icon on the right of the screen to build, upgrade, or bulldoze your roads.

  • Build: Tap the steamroller icon to go into road-building mode, then tap and drag on your city to draw your road.
  • Upgrade: Tap the hard hat/traffic light Upgrade icon.
  • Bulldoze: Tap the Bulldoze icon, then the section of road you want to remove.

Buying and selling materials

Buying and selling materials is a great way to save valuable manufacturing time or increase your Simoleon levels. 

There are four main ways to do business. Unlock the:

  • Trade Depot for selling
  • Global Trade HQ for buying
  • Accept (or refuse) deals that appear on your city map from other citizens
  • Complete cargo shipments by sea. This last one can also net you Golden Keys as a reward!

Don’t forget you can also visit friends’ cities to see what they have on offer.

Managing inventory

When you purchase items in the Global Trade HQ or pick up items created in your factories or commercial buildings, you must collect them to your inventory, which is kept in your City Storage building.

Free up space in your City Storage by using stored materials to build and upgrade, and remember you can sell and trade items too (so keep checking out the deals that appear on your city map).

Increasing inventory

From your City Storage, tap the green Increase Capacity button to see which storage-themed Special Items are required to increase maximum storage.

Collect the necessary Items, tap to confirm, and your City Storage will immediately increase.

Special Items

As Mayor, it’s important to pay attention to your citizens. Around your city, you will frequently see opinion bubbles appear over homes. Tap on them to learn your residents’ thoughts. If you invest in their hopes and dreams, your population will sometimes reward you with Special Items! There are several different types of themed Special Items.

As you accumulate a collection, you can exchange them to upgrade the City Storage, open expansion zones, or instigate disaster challenges. If you just can’t wait for more Special Items, you can buy them with SimCash.

Expand your city

After reaching the required level, tap an expansion zone to see a list of which bulldozer-themed Special Items are needed to claim that land as your own. Accumulate the necessary Items, then tap to confirm.

You can pick expansion zones in any order, as long as they are connected to your current city limits. Some land is more desirable than others, so the Special Items requirements can vary for each plot.

Remodel your city

Land is precious and you can rearrange your city however you choose. It makes sense to replace older factories and Service buildings for more efficient versions when you can. Use the bulldoze tool to take down roads, residential zones, and other buildings to make more space; you’ll even get a partial refund for those buildings originally paid for with Simoleons! Tap the road icon, then choose "Bulldoze" to demolish sections of road.

To demolish a building, tap and hold the building you’d like to remove, then tap the bulldozer icon that will appear on the right side of the screen. Now feel free to rebuild as you please. Just remember, bulldozing a residential zone will reduce your population!

Other upgrades

If you prefer skyscrapers in marble and glass to edifices of brick and plastic, attract wealthier citizens to build in your city. If you make sure to provide plenty of the Services and Specializations to cover a specific area, then buildings in that neighborhood will become increasingly attractive on future upgrades! The greater service coverage you provide an area, the better looking an area becomes.

Check out the land values of your city visually, by tapping on the residential zone icon on the right of your screen. You can also see how the next upgrade will affect each building.

Regions operate as satellite cities, each with a unique map and theme. The style of each Region is reflected through distinct Residential Zones, Factories, Crafting Shops, and Crafting Materials.

You can start unlocking Regions once your Capital City reaches level 25.

Tap the Regions icon (to the left of the club chat icon) in the lower left-hand corner of your Capital City screen to bring up the Regions menu.

Here are the five Regions:

  • Green Valley
  • Cactus Canyon
  • Limestone Cliffs
  • Frosty Fjords
  • Sunny Isles

Below are the criteria required to unlock each new Region:

  • Region 1: Capital City Level 25.
  • Region 2: Total Regional Population of 15,000.
  • Region 3: Total Regional Population of 250,000.
  • Region 4: Total Regional Population of 1,000,000.
  • Region 5: Total Regional Population of 10,000,000.

Hot Spots are upgradeable specialization buildings that are built using Regional currency. Each Region has its own set of Hot Spots that fit the Region theme, but all Hot Spots can be built in any Region or Capital City.

Hot Spots are available when you reach a population of 1,000 in any of your Regions.

Go to the Building Menu and look for the green indicators in Education, Transportation, Entertainment, and Gambling specialization menus to find the available Hot Spots.

Each Hot Spot has a “native” Region. The criteria to unlock it, or currency to buy and upgrade it, are tied to this region.

City Achievements are awarded at your Mayor’s Mansion. These are granted for excellent Mayoral performance like hitting population milestones, being a super-achieving trader, or providing excellent Services for your citizens. Get different Achievements depending on which direction you’re guiding your town.

When you earn Achievements, you receive bonuses in SimCash. Each Achievement has three star levels, with a SimCash reward at each level.

Unlock disaster challenges by building your population level nice and high and helping out with Vu Tower's construction.

Collect Dr. Vu-themed Special Items to unlock a disaster challenge. Will it come from the air? The sea? The earth? How big will it be? Are we feeling lucky? Will the llamas be okay?

All there is to do now is wait…

Whew. Is everyone still here? When the dust has settled, it’s up to you to rebuild. Tap the area affected to see which materials are needed, and you could be enjoying Golden Key rewards when rebuilding is complete.

Seasonal Events are limited-time competitions that let you win rewards by earning Event Points. These Events include Seasonal Shops, which are buildings that you can add to your city for a limited time and that let you craft or sell Event Items. At the end of the season, you can add Seasonal Shops to your storage and pull them out when a new Event for the same Shop starts again.

Farm Shop

The Farm Shop is the newest addition to Seasonal Shops. This Shop has five farm-themed Items that you can craft with new recipes. A pop-up tile will appear when the building is available in the Buildings menu. When inactive, you’ll see a Now closed sign. Residential Zone upgrades, deliveries, Contest of Mayors’ assignments, NPC buyers, and other SimCity BuildIt experiences may require Farm Items as long as the Farm Shop is active. You can also sell Farm Items at the Global Trade HQ.

Farm Items:

  • Farmer's Hayfork
  • Box of Grapes
  • Wool Shirt
  • Picnic Basket
  • Apple Jam

Steam Boat

The Steam Boat is available at the Cargo Dock and it runs at the same time as our current boat. Unlike our current boat, the Steam Boat has its own intervals, runs during this Summer's Event Tracks, and offers Event Points instead of Golden Keys as rewards for shipments. These Event Points can be used to progress through each active limited-time Event.

You can still keep building your city when you’re playing offline or if you lose your connection. Just remember to reconnect as soon as you can in order to save the progress you made while playing offline.

From time to time, we will remind you to get back online, as there are a few important reasons to check in with us regularly.

When you play offline:

  • Your progress isn’t saved. If something happens to your device, you could lose your progress.
  • Social features are disabled so can’t visit your friends’ cities (Daniel's Trade Depot will still be open for business).
  • Your Trade Depot and Global HQ are inaccessible. If items you put up for sale when you were online in your Trade Depot are sold while you play offline, you’ll get your Simoleons after you connect again.
  • You won’t get important updates and bug fixes.
  • You can’t make any purchases of SimCash in the store (but you can still exchange your current SimCash for Simoleons).

It’s also important to note:

  • If you have been playing offline on one device and start to play online on a secondary device (using the same account login), any offline progress you made on the first device will be overwritten and cannot be retrieved.
  • If you’ve stayed offline for a while, eventually you’ll be unable to continue playing unless you reconnect.

Still need help? The best way to reach us about SimCity BuildIt is to create a case from within your game.

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