How To Make Your Citizens Happy in Cities: Skylines

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In Cities: Skylines, the smiley face on the lower right side of your screen indicates your Global Happiness — this represents an overview of how satisfied your citizens are with their quality of life.

In other words, it’s how well you’re doing as a mayor!

 
This smiley (sometimes frowny) face is a quick indicator of how things are in your city. / Cities: Skylines
This smiley (sometimes frowny) face is a quick indicator of how things are in your city.
 

Your global happiness is an average of the residential, industrial, commercial, and office happiness ratings — each of which is affected by its own set of factors.

 
You can check the happiness rating in each zone type by opening the Citizen Happiness info view from the main toolbar. / Cities: Skylines
You can check the happiness rating in each zone type by opening the Citizen Happiness info view from the main toolbar.
 

First we’ll take a look at the general factors that affect happiness all over your city, and then get into the specific things that each zone type requires.

 

Basic Utilities & Services

The most important thing your citizens need to be happy is to have their basic needs met.

So make sure that your utilities are working properly – this includes:

  • Water
  • Sewage
  • Power
  • And garbage collection
 
This residence is unhappy about the garbage piling up. / Cities: Skylines
This residence is unhappy about the garbage piling up.
 

Once your basic utilities are covered, it’s time to keep your people safe.

Enough police stations and fire departments are crucial; crime and fires, unsurprisingly, will make your citizens unhappy.

 
Citizens are unhappy because of the high crime rate! Time to build a police station to cover this area. / Cities: Skylines
Citizens are unhappy because of the high crime rate! Time to build a police station to cover this area.
 

Postal service coverage is not as necessary as the police and fire departments, but it also boosts happiness so it’s worth it if you have the money for building and upkeep.

 

Transportation Requirements

Public transport options like bus routes, metro lines, and trains add to the happiness of nearby zones.

 
The people in this area are pleased with the addition of a new bus stop. / Cities: Skylines
The people in this area are pleased with the addition of a new bus stop.
 

Equally importantly, public transport helps improve road traffic.

This allows your services to operate with no problems, and your commercial and industrial zones to get the deliveries they need—big factors in keeping your citizens happy.

 

Taxes & Happiness

It should come as no surprise that a lower tax rate will make your citizens happier.

That said, keeping taxes too low will often mean a negative income that plunges your city into debt, so it’s important to strike the right balance.

Do note that residents that are happy (due to having their utility, services, and recreation needs met) are more willing to tolerate slightly higher tax rates.

 

Parks & Plazas

Adding parks and other leisure establishments are a great way to increase happiness in your different zones.

Some park types are very inexpensive in terms of initial cost and upkeep, so this can be a really cost-efficient way to make your citizens happy, as well as increase land value.

 
Parks and plazas can boost happiness at a relatively low cost. / Cities: Skylines
Parks and plazas can boost happiness at a relatively low cost.
 

Residential Happiness

Access to education facilities — elementary schools, high schools, universities, and libraries — is really important for your residential zones.

Educating your citizens also makes sure your commercial and office zones have the workers they need (more on this later).

 
A wave of green smiley faces lets you know your new building is appreciated, like this newly-built elementary school. / Cities: Skylines
A wave of green smiley faces lets you know your new building is appreciated, like this newly-built elementary school.
 

Healthcare and death care services also play a big role, so make sure your residences are covered by clinics or hospitals, child care, and elder care centers, as well as cemeteries or crematoriums.

Note: Pollution can make your residents ill and unhappy, so as much as possible keep polluting buildings and zones (e.g., generic industry and garbage facilities) away from your residential zones.

 
Polluting generic industry zones and garbage facilities are kept away from where people live. / Cities: Skylines
Polluting generic industry zones and garbage facilities are kept away from where people live.
 

Commercial Zone Happiness

To be happy, your commercial zones need:

  • Goods to sell
  • Workers
  • And buyers

If any one of these are lacking, a notification will appear above the affected building to let you know what the problem is.

If your commercial buildings are complaining about “Not Enough Goods to Sell”, it’s either because:

  1. There isn’t enough industrial zoning to manufacture goods, or
  2. The goods aren’t being delivered to your commercial zones due to poor traffic

If you’re trying to keep generic industry zoning to a minimum, you can let your commercial zones rely on imports.

However, you will need to make sure the import delivery trucks can get to them, so good traffic management and access to outside connections (highways, trains or harbors) will be key.

If they don’t have enough workers, it’s either because you need more residents to move into your city, or the residents aren’t at the right education level to fill the jobs.

 
A commercial building is unhappy because it doesn’t have enough workers. / Cities: Skylines
A commercial building is unhappy because it doesn’t have enough workers.
 

As your commercial zones level up, so do their worker education requirements. So to keep up with demand, it’s important to build enough:

  • Elementary schools (for educated workers)
  • High schools (for well-educated workers)
  • And colleges or universities (for highly educated workers)

Lastly, having enough buyers for the commercial zones is often a matter of having enough residential zones, and making sure the commercial zones aren’t inaccessible (due to distance or bad traffic).

 

Industrial Zone Happiness

For your industrial zones to be happy they need:

  • Raw materials to turn into goods
  • Enough workers
  • And buyers for their goods

Like the commercial zones, your industrial buildings will let you know if any of these is lacking.

To get raw materials, they need to be able to import it or source it from your specialized industry areas. A lack of raw materials often comes down to a delivery issue, e.g., no access to highways/cargo trains/cargo harbors, or delivery trucks getting stuck in traffic.

Similar to commercial zones, your industry will need workers of different education levels.

Lastly, your industrial buildings will need buyers for the products they manufacture. This means either access to commercial zones within your city, or access to highways and other outside connections to enable them to export.

 

Office Zone Happiness

Offices are a little easier to manage as they don’t require goods or materials.

But they do tend to require a highly educated workforce, so make sure you have enough universities availability in your city.

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Liz Villegas

Liz is a writer and photographer with a love for building and strategy games. Her spare time is often split between lifting, reading, drawing, annoying her dog Mr. Porky Butt, and squinting at stat tables on the wiki pages of whatever game she's currently playing.