I've been playing the newly release SimCity 2013 for about a day but I'm really struggling with increasing my population with completely covering almost every inch of the map.

While income is not a problem I cannot seem to increase the happiness of my residents enough to encourage upgrading to a higher density. I have the proper roads in place, i.e. a medium density street to support medium density. However, all residence just stay as low density. Adding parks, sportplex, services (fire, police, health), results in an increase in land value and the residence simply upgrade to a higher wealth residence (i.e. mansion) and the population remains low.

What is the key to encouraging density growth, i.e. to get my low density residence to upgrade to apartments, without causing land value to sky rocket?

  • Will not let me add simcity-2013 tag
    – Matthew
    Mar 7, 2013 at 14:34
  • SimCity is the correct tag. Increasing zone density is achieved by increasing land value, and that is covered in this question on how to increase land value.
    – kalina
    Mar 7, 2013 at 14:42
  • @kalina so it safe to say land value must go from low to medium/high before density will been encouraged to change? i.e. Eventually the medium wealth homes will change to apartments?
    – Matthew
    Mar 7, 2013 at 14:46
  • A zone must be happy before its density will increase, happiness is directly linked to pretty much the same set of things that will increase land value (parks, hospitals, etc).
    – kalina
    Mar 7, 2013 at 14:49

2 Answers 2


Land value and happiness are separate concepts.

  • Land value aka desirability encourage wealthier sims to move in.
  • Happiness encourages density increases.

Residential happiness comes from shopping! Turn on the commercial dataview and make sure that shoppers can go from residential zones to commercial zones with available goods. (Goods resupply automatically at 6 am and 6 pm. Goods have nothing to do with freight).

Residentials without money or without nearby goods will instead go to parks to get happiness. This happiness is just as effective at growing density as shopping (ie. your buildings will grow). However, there are some downsides. Parks cost you money, while commercial buildings pay tax. Parks take up more space to get the equivalent capacity of commercial buildings. Parks also increase land value - so you may accidentally bring in wealthier Sims than you really want (wealthy buildings hold fewer people).

If you need more jobs, you might need denser industrial zones. Industrial happiness comes from making shipments of freight. Turn on the industrial view. If there is a large pile of shipments at any building, that industrial is in trouble. Make more commercial zones or trade buildings to receive those shipments. Once received, those shipments will automatically vanish at some point allowing more to be received.

  • 2
    Great advice, just wondering if you can clarify a bit, I have residence that are against low wealth, low density, and there are commercial zones across the street, yet they complain about where the shopping is? I guess this is impacting their happiness and the result of the low density? Is it safe to say that I can get high density low wealth residents purely by providing great shopping and jobs?
    – Matthew
    Mar 7, 2013 at 17:31
  • 2
    You need to use the commercial dataview to see which commercial zones have goods. Most likely, the nearby stores are running out of goods. Yes - great shopping + jobs = residential density.
    – Amy B
    Mar 7, 2013 at 18:03
  • @Matthew - Yes that sounds about right.
    – Ramhound
    Mar 8, 2013 at 17:38
  • Well, I have to stand corrected. I made a commercial-free city and easily attained 30k population and medium density residential buildings. I used two trade depots to receive the freight, and about 8 parks.
    – Amy B
    Mar 11, 2013 at 2:14
  • @AmyB was the commercial zoning being satisfied elsewhere in the region? I had the same because the happiness of my residence was being fulfilled elsewhere in the region.
    – Matthew
    Mar 11, 2013 at 16:49

Get your tax to just 7% and you'll see in maybe 10 minutes all your residentials will go rebuild to a higher density.

Simple answer.

  • 2
    Lower taxes increase happiness but this does not guarantee that there will be enough happiness to invoke density upgrade.
    – wonton
    Mar 25, 2013 at 23:48

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