Tips and tricks for Cities: Skylines

Welcome to our series where I share some of my tips and tricks for the games that really, really don’t hold your hand to start off with. This time I’m sharing my knowledge of the popular city simulator, Cities: Skylines – to help you get gud scrub! So, here are some tips and tricks for Cities: Skylines (Vanilla edition).

1. Don’t be afraid to expand

In my first city, I took way to long to expand from my first tile. To the point where almost every square inch of my tile was occupied. At the time I thought it was the right thing to do. Afterall, why expand when you don’t have to right? Surely, it’s too expensive and a waste of money. Incorrect. Buying one of the new sections of land is actually incredibly well priced and well worth your time. When I finally did buy my first expansion, it was really hard actually to build out from my first tile as it was so compacted together. So, my tip is to expand, expand, expand! Even if you don’t build in the area straight away, having the option there is great for planning and organising areas like your rail network to transport goods around quicker. Don’t do what I did, it was honestly more pain that it was worth.

source: Guide Strats

2. Check your economy tab often

One of the worst things you can do for your city is neglect to check in with this tab often, specifically, the budget tab. One of the biggest issues my early cities suffered from was trash build up. This was often due to me not designing my roads very well, meaning lots of garbage trucks took ages to get around. Instead of ripping up the whole infrastructure though, you can simply go into the budget tab and increase budget around garbage disposal. This means more trucks on the road, which can negate even the poorest designed streets. So, if something is struggling, consider first seeing if pumping more money into it can help. Also, the taxes tab can be interesting to play with. But be careful, raising taxes even a little can cause quite the uproar. And finally, the last section in the economy tab is your loans. Overall, the best loan in my books is always the middle one. But try not to take a loan out until you really need to. Sometimes you can resolve the problem without it.

3. The City Information tab

Bet you didn’t know this tab even existed! (Don’t worry, I didn’t either until making this post.) The City info tab is a great way to keep on top of how your city is doing, but also, what your city is needing. If you’re noticing a big population of elderly citizens but you don’t have a single elder care home, maybe consider getting a few. Same goes for childcare, or schooling. This is a great way to keep on top of your citizen’s needs, sometimes before they even ask for them. You can also check these by going into the sub menus for each item and checking on the bar, but this is a good way to get an overall idea without checking with each one.

4. Making a cargo harbour

Cargo harbours are a great way to ease congestion through industrial areas in that goods are coming from the ocean, not the roads. But of course, said goods need to be transported after they arrive. This is where the tried and true ‘winding road’ method comes in.  To avoid horrific congestion leading up to the harbour, create a one way winding road coming out from your industrial zone leading up to the harbour. Then have a few one way exits, one going back into your industrial zone and other out to a more central highway to get to other areas. Trust me, this will make this area flow so much better than if you just have a standard road leading up to it, and a road out.

5. Bus routes are worth, subways less so

Through suburban areas, I definitely recommend bus routes. They increase overall happiness, and if you add a policy like free transport, it can really decongest your roads. But just ensure you think about the routes you create. Having bus routes stop around major places like schools and hospitals are a great idea – and ensure they connect up again at the end too, otherwise the route will be considered unfinished. Having tried subways a few times, I just feel in comparison to a good bus route, it’s not as worth. For starters, they count as noise pollution even if they are underground, so they really aren’t handy around suburban areas. And navigating the underground routes is just a pain. Buses within neighbourhoods, and overland rail lines on the outskirts of each neighbourhood to connect them up, is a far more worthwhile system in my books.

6. Roundabouts, roundabouts, ROUNDABOUTS!

I will go ahead and say it now, 90% of my road congestion problems resolved with the introduction of a well-constructed roundabout. While the roundabouts in Cities: Skyline vanilla are giant for some reason, they are still incredibly helpful with traffic management. So, if you have an area really struggling with traffic, consider a roundabout! Don’t forget, you can actually delete the roads that come off them and make new ones if they don’t align with the roads you want to connect them to, so use that to your advantage.

7. When you can afford it, implement a few policies

While some of the better policies can set you back a bit funds wise, when you can afford it, I do recommend it. If you create districts, you can set policies district by district, but I tend to just do them over the whole city. For me, I think the smoke detector distribution and recycling policy is basically a must, as it helps a lot with both trash and fires, which can be a pain in the early game. But free public transport, as well as power and water use policies can also do a lot for your city if you can afford to take the hit.

8. Get the ChirpX Launch Site

You get to launch a rocket and watch the sick animation. It’s really cool, and makes citizens who live within the viewing area happy as well as you. Do it, you won’t regret it!

So, those were just some of my tips and tricks for Cities: Skylines.

I hope this can help you make a flourishing and fruitful city filled with happy, productive residents. If you’d like me to share even more tips and tricks for Cities: Skylines, just let me know in the comments below. And hey, before you go, check out my tips and tricks post for Rimworld, or even go sub to our company YouTube channel cos we’re awesome like that!


Appreciator of fantasy novels, RPG games, cats and good tea.

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