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SimCity Strategy Guides


Government: Approval Rating


Your approval rating in SimCity is a general measure of job performance as Mayor. Each zone, and each wealth / tech level within that zone generates an approval rating based on the number of problems, or lack of problems. These are averaged to give you a total which becomes your approval rating.

This is something of a 'catch all' article in that I've chosen it as a reasonable place to do a complete Q&A on all the things Sims complain about. These are divided up into general subject areas and I've provided some notes and links for each problem.

Aside from the fact it's generally pleasing to be able to play this deceptively complicated game well, there are also some achievements up for grabs for approval rating scores!

The following sections can be found in this article:

  • About the Approval Rating Panel
  • Making Sims Happy: Answers to SimCity Complaints
  • The 'Quid Pro Quo' Achievement
  • The 'Best Mayor Ever' Achievement
  • About the Approval Rating Panel

    Click on the smiley face at the bottom of your game screen, next to your current funds. This opens the Approval Rating panel which provides a summary of the current approval rating for all zone types and wealth / tech levels. It will also list the most common positive and negative feedback comments amongst those groups. It is worth paying attention to the colors. Green comments are positive ones - things you are dealing with well, orange ones are problems which are starting to worry Sims, red are serious problems which require urgent attention.

    It is important to note that although there are some issues which concern all Sims, there are some which particularly worry specific zones, wealth / tech levels. As the Approval rating advisor says, "Medium and high wealth Sims are more sensitive to garbage, sewage and sickness. High wealth Sims are unhappy with crime, pollution, fires and lack of education. Nobody likes high taxes, but high wealth Sims don't even like medium taxes."

    The approval rating panel is SLOW to update. So even after painstakingly identifying unhappy buildings and fixing whatever is wrong, it'll take some time, sometimes several days, before it registers a change in approval rating.

    Making Sims Happy: Answers to SimCity Complaints

    Making Sims happy is one of the fundamental aspects of SimCity. Meeting the needs of your city's zones and residents is what makes your city grow and thrive. Below is a list of various issues that Sims may complain about in your city, with some pointers on how to address them.

    Source Zone Issue Solutions & Recommendations

    Zone Disparity Issues

    Residential No shops Insufficient commercial zoning nearby of the same wealth level. Check wealth level of nearby commercial zones in land value data map. Adding parks to increase the commercial land value, or removing parks to decrease residential land value until the zones match
  • Zoning: Wealth Levels
  • Residential Need Park nearby Usually because new negative influence has reduced local land value below the level required to sustain medium or high wealth residential housing. If this change is unwanted then add a park to balance out the influence. If it is a desirable change, then you can speed up generation of new low wealth buildings by bulldozing the unwanted medium/high wealth.
  • Zoning: Wealth Levels
  • Parks: Happiness, Wealth & Land Value
  • Residential No Money Sims in this house cannot find jobs in the local area. Add or change local commercial or industrial zones, or a place a city building that can provide workers. Upgrading roads in nearby commercial / industrial zones may lead to increased density and more jobs. Low wealth Sims that become unemployed risk becoming homeless.
  • Zoning: Industrial
  • Zoning: Commercial
  • Commercial Not enough shoppers This is the opposite of not enough shops. There are not enough residential buildings nearby of the same wealth level. Add more residential zoning, reduce the commercial zoning or change the wealth level of either zone until they match
  • Zoning: Residential
  • Zoning: Commercial
  • Zoning: Wealth Levels
  • Industrial Not Enough Workers Typically caused by insufficient residential zoning in general, not enough residential zoning in the local area, or it can also mean not enough residential zoning of a specific wealth level, since all factories require some workers from each class
  • Zoning: Wealth Levels
  • Zoning: Industrial
  • Industrial Not Enough Educated Workers Local residential buildings do not have the educated status, either because their student population is not enrolled, or because they are not making it to the schools in your city before the end of the day. No particular type of school is required in order to generate an 'educated' household
  • Zoning: Wealth Levels
  • Zoning: Industrial
  • Education
  • Education & Tech Levels
  • Industrial Not Enough Skilled Workers Medium and High tech industries need workers who are both educated and medium / high wealth. Your city's education level must be sufficient to sustain these industries.
  • Zoning: Wealth Levels
  • Zoning: Industrial
  • Education
  • Education & Tech Levels
  • Utilities Issues

    All Sewage Problems Sewage processing often hiccups periodically due to the way sewage moves around the city, however if it's not just your advisor, but your Sims who are complaining, then you need to expand your sewage processing capacity.
  • Sewage
  • All No Power If you have power brown-outs you need to increase production immediately. Be aware that solar power will have a reduced output at night, so you'll need greater capacity
  • Power
  • Services

    Residential Sick / Too many Germs Persistent illness typically caused by air or ground pollution, but can also be caused by water, sewage or garbage pollution. Make sure your local clinic or hospital isn't over-capacity. Adding wellness modules to a hospital can help reduce sickness in general. Generating high tech industry is the best long term plan
  • Healthcare: Pollution & Germs
  • Residential Injured Sims complain about injuries when there is poor ambulance coverage. Add more ambulances and check they are not stuck in traffic. Low tech, high density industry causes the most injuries, so devloping higher tech industry will reduce this problem
  • Healthcare
  • Residential Deaths Sims die because they are injured but do not get collected by an ambulance within a set period of time. This can happen because there aren't enough ambulances, or because the ambulances you do have are stuck in traffic. Higher tech industry will reduce injury related deaths
  • Healthcare
  • Residential & Commercial Too Much Crime Increase police coverage. Ensure you have enough jail capacity. Consider opening additional stations in areas where there are high concentrations of crime, or near to casinos. Improving the percentage of educated Sims will improve this issue
  • Police
  • Government Issues

    All Taxes are too high Each wealth level has a particular tolerance for taxation, go beyond that level and Sims will become unhappy and complain
  • Government: Treasury & Budget
  • The 'Quid Pro Quo' Achievement

    This achievement requires you to upgrade the Mayor's Mansion 12 times. To do this you need to not only achieve approval ratings over 90%, but you will need to sustain them for up to 24 hours at a time.

    Quid Pro Quo - Difficulty: Hard

    Place one of each of all the modules on a single Mayor's Mansion.

    Unlocking the Mayor's Mansion requires a City Hall and an approval rating of 75% or higher, once your population is over 40,000. Adding additional modules require you to maintain high approval ratings over time, initially 75% over 6 hours, rising to 80% for 12 hours, then 85% and finally 90% over 24 hours.

    If you are going for this achievement then checking your mansion often as it progresses is recommended so you can upgrade when the upgrade option becomes available, and get the clock started on the next upgrade whilst your approval rating remains high.

    The 'Best Mayor Ever' Achievement

    There are two approaches to this achievement. The slightly 'cheaty' approach is to create a small city (no more than 10,000 population) which has enough services and then, after saving up a bit of cash, drop the tax rate down to 1%. Having only low wealth Sims in your city will help a great deal as they are easier to make happy!

    Best Mayor Ever - Difficulty: Hard

    Have an approval rating of 95% or more

    Keep your city simple

    It is generally easier to accomplish this achievement in the early city development phase, mostly because the majority of Sims in the city are probably poor, and poor Sims complain less. It is also easier to keep zones in better balance when there's still room to add more zoning. City services are also more effective before certain problems have time to develop (things like hazmat fires, murders, recycling issues etc, which don't tend to happen early on). Smaller populations can be kept happy with less spending on education and parks than larger ones.

    Another benefit of aiming for this achievement in a developing city is that industrial pollution hasn't had time to build up leading to problems with sickness. Green cities in general will fair better, except you will need to keep a close eye on utilities usage. There's nothing more irritating than getting to 94% approval rating only to discover your power plant has stopped keeping up with demand, or you've run out of water as industrial zones in particular will stay pissed off about these issues for months afterwards.


    Parks are a mixed blessing with regards to this achievement and high approval ratings in general. Yes parks do contribute happiness, but if you're not careful to match park wealth levels to that of the neighborhood, you can cause spikes in land value which causes a cascade of RCI problems. Again, in the early development phase, basic parks can be used to increase happines in poor areas without changing the land value.

    Keep an eye on your happiness data map

    As noted above, the happiness data map is very helpful for identifying buildings and areas with issues. To get a 95% approval rating you need to check out pretty much all the buildings that aren't the very brightest green to make sure there aren't overlooked issues.

    Low Taxes

    One enormously helpful tactic is to reduce tax rates down to 0% as this increases happiness by 3-4 points for all zones. It does, however mean no income for your treasury, so you'll either need to save up some money in advance of trying for this achievement, get a large gift from a neighboring city, or have plenty of specialization income.

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