The thing is, while that does factor in lightly to this game, the game design actually places a higher value and emphasis upon the monetary value of your town, the number of Sims you have placed in homes, and how many Neighbors (other players/friends) that it has attached to it.
That warrants explaining since understanding it is the key to success once you have a well established town...
Leveling your town is the only way to gain access to new buildings like the Hobby Shop, Pet Store, and Salon - buildings with services you will need if you are going to complete a lot of the goals in the game!
The value - basic worth - of your town is determined by a combination of different elements, including the municipal facilities that you have built, the businesses and shops as well as services you have added to your town, and the different employment sources that you have build/added.
As you work through that process you will quickly see how it applies - in order to build some construction projects you actually have to get your town to a minimum value - so the mechanism that is being used is very clear.
Number of Sims
This specifically applies to the number of Sims that you have placed in the houses in your town. These are the Sims that you have get jobs, build relationships, work towards goals, and etc.
Number of Neighbors
This may be confusing to some gamers - they are not talking about how many Sims in your town live next door to each other, rather this is how many other real-world players you know and who you have added as "neighbors" to your town.
This is basically the social element of the game - and really if you think about it it would not be a very good game for the iOS and other platforms if it lacked that sort of feature, right?
You may be wondering why this is important - why it is important to have Neighbors and to visit them? The answer to that is simple: that is one of the primary methods you have for obtaining Social Points. And you will want to do that.
While we cover this in more detail elsewhere in the guide, the basic point to SP in the game is that it is both an alternate currency that encourages you to visit your neighbors and participate in the social aspects of the game, and it is ALSO an alternate currency that is required for many of the new items in the game store that can ONLY be purchased USING the Social Points - and that nicely explains why you will want them!
The Formula for Success
As irritating as this may be - at least respect to the neighbor thing since it means you are going to need to go out and recruit friends to play if they are not already - you should shoot for a balance in your efforts between each, because you will eventually reach a point in the game where your forward progress is blocked if you lack a certain number. This particularly applies to Neighbors.
A Trick for Rapid Leveling
While it is true that your Town Levels will come at a relatively predictable pace, there will be times when you really need to squeeze out a level or two quickly - for instance when your Sim Population is at Capacity but you have goals that require a new Sim, you may find yourself in need of a rapid few levels. You can do that if you use this trick!
An easy method for gaining fast levels is to take advantage of the Sims in your Neighbor's Towns. You can do this for every single one of your own Sims, which makes this an attractive strategy.
Expanding your town and gaining levels will grow more challenging because the cost for each new building grows with the placement of each new building - an expensive circle of ever-increasing costs.
Basically what you do is have one of your Sims visit a Neighbor's Town, then have them work their way through ALL of the Sims that live there, befriending each one. How does that help you? Look at the table below to see:
|| Stage Number
|| Reward XP
| Stage 0
|| 0 XP
|| This is the Neutral Starting Point
| Stage 1
|| 100 XP
|| Usually requires 1 'Be Nice' Action
| Stage 2
|| 150 XP
|| Usually requires 1 'Be Nice' Action
| Stage 3
|| Good Friend
|| 200 XP
|| Usually requires 3 'Be Nice' Action
| Stage 4
|| Best Friend
|| 300 XP
|| Usually requires 6 'Be Nice' Action
|| 750 XP Total Reward
|| 11 Minutes Total Time
So in essence you spend 11 Minutes chatting up your Neighbor's Sims using the "Be Nice" Action, which takes 1m per use, and at the end of that 11 Minutes you gain 750 XP. This is one of the fastest ways to pick up XP to level your town - bearing in mind that you can rinse and repeat this with every single one of your Sims, using every single one of your Neighbor's Sims!
In addition to increasing the Sim Cap each Level can also add important new items to the game.
To put this in perspective for you, we have 12 Adult Sims in the town we used to work on this guide, and we have five Neighbor Towns with a total of 39 Sims (for the towns we can actually visit - some of our Neighbors have Save Issues that disallow us to visit them).
Doing the math, for each one of our Sims we can obtain a total of 29.250 XP in just over 7 hours. That works out to a total of 351K XP! Ooof! If you can think of a faster way to obtain that measure of levels please be sure to let us know so we can include it here?
The common application of levels in video games is linking the unlocking of a new level with added items, access, or abilities.