I had plague sweep through my city, dropping the population from nearly 20k to just over 2k. Now my budget is shot and the game keeps offering me a bailout...

I was kind of hoping for a catastrophic and final end to my city, but it seems to just be going deeper and deeper into debt.

Will the game actually ever put me into bankruptcy?

  • The debt can go into negatives forever, afaik. Once you have negative amount of money and your income is negative, there's nothing you can do anyway, so while it doesn't force you to stop playing your city, all you can really do is just watch it "burn".
    – Elise
    Jul 28, 2015 at 4:19

3 Answers 3


As @Chippies said, no, there's nothing you can really do once your account is negative with a negative cashflow. Its not direct, but it is a way of forcing you to abandon the city.


You are technically going bankrupt when you go into negative cashflow. After that you need to decide whether or not you want the effort of saving the city. From personal experience of someone who managed to get out of debt, it's easier to abandon the city. It took me a few hours to get myself out of debt.

HOWEVER, if you're attached to the city and want to get out of debt no matter what, you need to be able to give the people what they want, hence why I build roads unzoned. If you can't do that, then trash the city and start over.

When I build my city, I intentionally build plenty of roads, but don't zone them yet. The roads are the only thing I build in excess. I tested whether or not I could actually get out of debt of negative 10 million with negative cash flow of 300K.

I managed to pull it off but it was hard as hell.

1) As you go into debt, you will no longer be able to build and people will begin to abandon the city. Make sure you demolish those buildings ASAP. Otherwise you'll be spending ages demolishing houses. Also, make sure you don't accidentally demolish a road.

2) Watch the demand bars, if your people want Industrial, and your only free roads are next to residential, don't worry about pollution right now, you're more concerned with upping your population. As your population increases, your income increases and your negative cash flow will slowly move towards positive.

3) Shoot your taxes up to 29% periodically, but not like crazy, or you'll piss off the people and they'll STILL abandon the city.

4) Since you're demolishing abandoned buildings you're also destroying your power grid. If you demolish a very large area, then you might as well dezone that entire area, and rezone it so that you have control over where people move in. That way all the buildings are connected and you still have a power grid. If you don't have a working power grid, your people will STILL abandon their houses.

5) This is dependent on how big your city was when you went into debt. If you managed to reach the Big Town milestone, and have access to High Density Residential/Commercial, then it would be beneficial to replace the Low-Density with High-Density in the event that you went into debt since you get a larger population.

  • I'm not sure I follow the unzoned comment and comment #1. People don't abandon your city simply because you're in debt, people abandon because you aren't able to build the services they demand. Any existing services you have keep functioning, so if you have basic coverage you can indefinitely support a given population. The main problem is if your expenses exceed the population you can support so you can't break even, in which case destroying extra roads/rails/etc can actually help because they reduce expenses. It's only hopeless if you overbuild too early and can't get initial services.
    – Troyen
    Feb 4, 2019 at 11:26
  • You can go quite a ways off of just one hospital, cemetery, incineration plant, police station, and fire station while recovering from a nasty disaster as long as they were built before the budget tanked (schools help but aren't critical). The limiting factors are power, water, and zone squares. The service buildings also don't need to be running all the time.
    – Troyen
    Feb 4, 2019 at 11:30
  • The unzoned comment was basically: I'll build all the roads I need, start getting positive cash flow, then build more roads that I won't mark yet. I'll decide that later depending on the demand of the city. I can see how #1 confused you though @Troyen. You'll no longer be able to build, and with negative cash flow you cant give people the demanded services. Feb 5, 2019 at 12:59

I got to over negative 3,000,000 dollars but it just keeps telling me to take a loan, putting me further into debt. So if you get below negative 100,000 start over there is no hope.

  • You can recover in most cases, I've dipped pretty deeply negative when an untimely tsunami flattened my town and flooded the outside connections for 80 weeks. But it takes time, so it depends on how much time you want to invest in recovery. Exception would be if you overbuilt too early or are missing critical services and/or don't have enough space to zone before going negative.
    – Troyen
    Feb 4, 2019 at 11:39

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