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In Cities: Skylines, how do I increase RCI demand? What factors affect it?

In one of my cities, I've got a population of 100,000. It essentially consists of one giant grid-city in one area. Traffic gridlock is commonplace there. Yet RCI demand exists at about 10%, allowing the city to grow at a moderate pace.

But in another city that I have, the population is around 50,000. Traffic runs smoothly. But RCI demand is almost non-existent.

In both cases, I have all services at full coverage for all buildings. I heard that traffic and service problems can affect RCI demand, but in all my subsequent cities, my traffic and service coverage is undoubtedly better, yet there are still problems.

In addition, I am aware that the game has a bug with commercial demand, where the existence of parks will lower it. I have installed a mod from the Steam Workshop to compensate for that.

Yet despite all I've done, RCI demand seems to be quite fickle. What I normally do to test this is place one of each type of zone: Residential, Commercial, and Office—I avoid Industrial due to its pollution, and since Office seems to be a nice substitute for it, as long as there are enough goods coming in to the city via Ship or Train. Then I see which zones have any buildings growing in them; the zones which have none after about five minutes of speed-3, I consider to be growing at 0%.

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First, a few tips:

  1. Go through every information layout possible and make sure your citizens are covered by all of the necessary services
  2. Check your building levels for Residental, Commercial, Industrial/Office and try and get them up as high as possible
  3. Traffic can make or break your simulation. I recommend using the "Traffic Report Tool" mod to help wrap your head around why a citizen is going where (it might help you spot missing road links!)

I am currently having your exact problem. My current has 131k population but zero demand:

RCI

As you can see my RCI is almost zero across the board. Something else must be going on here. My traffic has hardly any red spots, tons of services, and high land value in the right places. What's going on? It turns out high unemployment can cause your city to be undesirable to move in to:

Unemployment

But how do I have unemployment if my industry demand is zero? Personally, I have an un-even location placement of homes vs jobs.

Homesvsjobs

I think this is causing my high unemployment even though there is no demand for OVERALL RCI. The industries that are far away from homes are complaining no workers are available while the residents that are far from jobs are left unemployed.

I also have a few other problems like an unnaturally low commercial percentage thanks to the park bug (BTW, thanks for the mod heads-up, I'll check it out!)

  • Unemployment is an interesting point that I haven't considered yet. I also heard that having too few Adults could hinder growth; for instance, your city might have too many Seniors and Children and not enough Adults, who are the ones that go to work. – Gary Mar 17 '15 at 19:54
  • In your first screenshot, how did you get that extra info in the white bubble? Which mod is it? – Gary Mar 18 '15 at 21:26
  • That is no mod, you have to pull up the population information overlay in the top left icon on the game – teeone Mar 18 '15 at 22:49
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One thing I noticed is that if you have enough density, full services coverage on the map doesn't necessarily guarantee that you have enough services.

In many of the info views, you have:

  1. Green shading overlay on roads to show range
  2. Green/red tinting of each individual building to show satisfaction with service
  3. A slider graphic in the pop-up that shows how much of that service is demanded city-wide, versus how much of that service is being provided

I ran into a demand crunch once because I was only paying attention to the first indicator - I had placed enough elementary schools that all roads in the city were green. But by the second indicator, there were still some buildings that were not being served adequately. Then I noticed the third indicator said that I had capacity for 1500 students, but demand from 3000 students. Placing some extra schools in dense areas fixed the capacity gap and opened up extra residential demand.

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