Mod Idea - Cost of Living (& Urban Density)

A new simulation - Cost of Living


  • Inflation (+)
  • High Wages & Low Unemployment (+)
  • Oil Price (+)
  • Food Price (+)
  • Rare Earth Price (+)
  • Sales Tax (+)
  • Petrol Tax (+)
  • Currency Strength (-) //might be unnecessary as it already gets influenced by Inflation
  • Import Tariff (+)
  • Energy Efficiency (-)
  • Toll Roads (+)
  • Car Tax (+)
  • High Bus Subsidies (-)
  • High State Rail Company (-)
  • High State Energy Company (-)
  • High State Water Company (-)
  • High State Telecom Company (-)
  • High State Housing (-)
  • Rent Control (-)
  • Property Tax (+)
  • Mortgage Tax Credit (-)
  • Real Estate Bubble (+)


  • Higher Wages (inertia of 8~12 turns)
  • Higher Poverty
  • Cost of Living Crisis (new situation, can be triggered if coupled with low wage & high unemployment)

Additional Link Overrides

  • Introduce GDP to Inflation (+) link
  • Strengthen Wages to Productivity (-) link
  • (maybe) Wages doesn’t affect Inflation directly (influence Cost of Living instead)

What I’m trying to achieve with this is making inflation more harmful. I expect higher Cost of Living to reduce Productivity by putting upward pressure to Wages, leading to lower GDP eventually. While players can somewhat prevent CoL rise by cutting some taxes or interfering in markets (which could hopefully lead to less rent seeking), inflationary measures will prove to be bad for economy in a long term.

I’m trying to avoid taking taxes or wages into this and it subsequently makes it hard to factor in budget-heavy public programs such as State Healthcare.

This is still in the first draft stage and yet to do any implementation. Not even done any simulation trial outside the game. Therefore, any thoughts or suggestions will be appreciated.


First Iteration of Cost of Living simulation


  • Oil Price plays a dominant role in Cost of Living. Which is kinda understandable but might negatively affect gameplay experience as Oil Price tends to be very volatile with fluctuations of Currency Strength, making CoL rise when GDP falls.
  • Food Price will effectively act as a second hand impact of Oil Price unless your country has Water Shortage (AUS in the pic above).
  • Wages simulation has the second biggest impact on CoL by direct influence & second-hand impact through Inflation. But Wages tends to be even more sticky in this mod as GDP drop usually means CoL rise, which pushes up the wages. So Wages won’t be as volatile as Oil Price, making its effective influence relatively smaller.

will try playing a few games and see how it affects gameplay & strategies.

+all these pics are turn 0 stats. as competent players can definitely achieve super low oil & food price, you should be able to lower CoL down to 20% imo. Canada has quite low CoL at first for such reasons.

1 Like

Thinking a bit with Currency Strength gave me an interesting idea) Shouldn’t EU countries have much stable Currency Strength as they use Euro, which won’t get de-valued rapidly just because one of the Eurozone countries suffer a recession? Maybe I should add this as an override.

+and also much stable international trade as currency strength won’t have any impact on intra-EU trading

1 Like

This looks very cool!

Second Iteration of Cost of Living simulation

  • various balance adjustments
  • Cost of Living - Unemployment effect was added
  • some adjustments for EU countries were made - they will have much stable currency strength & international trade

a bit about initial states

  • Australia had exceptionally high level of CoL (87%) at the start. I guess this wass because of high food price from water shortage and high wages.
  • Japan, France, Italy were another expensive countries to live in this mod. They have generally strong labour laws but so does Spain. I guess these countries have higher oil demand or other factors influencing immigration.
  • In contrast, US, UK, and SK had relatively low CoL and all of them have pro-business labour laws. But I was also able to notice that US & UK had the deepest negative wages-CoL gaps. Maybe I really should create ‘Cost of Living Crisis’ so that way too lower wages compared to CoL can have some consequences.
  • Canada had exceptionally low CoL (36%) at turn 0. I assume this is a result of cheap oil price, strong currency (thanks to high GDP), and pro-business labour laws.

Findings & Thoughts

  • it seems 10% rise in CoL causes 0.5~1% GDP loss through the wages-productivity-GDP pipe.
  • it suggests that the game can actually simulate “fair” depiction of demand-driven stimulus by having both of GDP boost & wage/inflation/CoL boost. but this is still a paper plan.
  • it was rather easy to reduce CoL to 35% by firm de-carbonization policies. low oil price → low food price → now two less major problems. but going further will need deficit-running state corporations to artificially drop prices.
  • I’m considering actually linking disposable income of 3 income groups to inflation so that inflation can actually measure expected money circulation instead of just lumping in the wages*(1-unemployment) term.
  • another idea on paper is adding some permanent grudges or even a dedicated simulation for population density affecting CoL (as rent is likely to be higher). but I guess I’ll have to save that for another mod like real estate expansion or something.
1 Like

Decided to push the mod public. There still are some planned features but wanted to see more feedback.

You should scale the effects of oil price and petrol tax on the cost of living by Electric Vehicle adoption. It wouldn’t make sense that having a high petrol tax would increase the cost of living significantly if nobody’s paying it by using electric cars.

Similar thing with Car Tax, that should scale with car usage

Maybe other things that could reduce the cost of living could be energy subsidies like both clean energy subsidies and oil drilling subsidies? Because they would both reduce the cost of energy, but with some inertia. Welfare programs like food stamps should also affect the cost of living or reduce its effects. Helicopter money would be interesting because it would directly increase the cost of living through higher inflation but would also reduce the poverty caused by it as it is a welfare policy.

1 Like

Thanks for your feedback!

Oil Price already does consider Electric Car Adoption. It just doesn’t fully remove CoL bump as oil price has broader impacts outside transportation. But agree that Petrol Tax shouldn’t have any impact on CoL when everyone rides an electric car. I’ll apply a change and make sure they are visible to players.

Car Tax does lose its impact on CoL when Car Usage declines.

Oil Drilling Subsidies will actually reduce CoL by reducing Oil Price, as it increases Oil Supply. Clean Energy Subsidies does something similar by reducing Oil Demand.

Regarding Food Stamps, I understand what you mean but I have decided to consider poor-specific benefits to be unrelated with CoL, as they will not affect the costs of “maintaining certain standard of living” in general and I personally think that such policies are just treating the symptoms (poverty) not the disease (causes of poverty).

1 Like

Could I have some other ideas to include in this mod?

There could be a range of economy laws which are price controls in various sectors of the economy (eg oil price ceilings, food price ceiling/floor) which would prevent prices of those commodities from rising too high. The price ceilings would increase approval from everyone but especially the poor and socialists, as well as upsetting capitalists and self-employed, as well as farmers from the food price ceiling. If the price SHOULD go too high above it, that would contribute to a new Illegal Market situation where goods are being illegally sold at a price that is too high. This would upset everybody and increase crime, as well as reducing the GDP; there could also be a Shortages situation from using too many price ceilings which would negatively affect approval of your government by various groups, and the GDP and poverty.

A food price floor would be used to ensure that farmers would have enough money to sell their crop. Instituting it would upset Capitalists and Everyone, but would make farmers MUCH happier, and self-employed to a lesser extent. This would also raise the food price above itself, but not so much it would cause a food crisis.

I’m not sure if enforcing a maximal value or a minimum value is possible while modding but those are some ideas from me.

I’ve also thought about price controls in the design process. I guess it should be possible to implement via modding. What remains unsure is how to implement the state of shortages. Of course there already is Homelessness situation, which can be worsened by Rent Controls. But I’m not really content with its implementation - some approval drops and slightly higher Crime. I’d expect much harsher repercussions when shortage hits oil, food, or other basic necessities. It’s another big topic. So I decided to put it aside for now. But I’d definitely revisit this idea later.

Regarding price floor, I don’t think it will have clear distinction with or advantages over Agriculture Subsidies.

1 Like

There would be one difference I could think of: you don’t need to spend any money to make a price floor for agriculture. You can just pass the law and then you increase the approval and income of farmers.

Which gives me another idea for a situation: Agricultural Collapse. This means that, due to a lack of domestic support and cheap foreign imports of food, the local agricultural sector cannot compete on the market and dies out, raising concerns about food security. This is increased by low government support of farming (eg agricultural subsidies, not giving the go-ahead for GMO crops, etc.), high international trade and low domestic food prices, and is reduced by high technology to a limited extent and through import tariffs, as well as slightly by a high Patriot population; some countries have their own modifiers based on the amount of arable land (USA would not have this as a threat, countries like Japan would have this as a bigger threat). This would mean that if the amount of international trade you get suddenly reduces, then food prices could spike and would make Patriots and farmers hate you: this would also greatly reduce Farmer populations as they are driven out of the market. Solving it would prevent food insecurity from being a major threat, but you can let it stay without too much danger if you keep trade high.

1 Like

Well, while I feel like I’d just spend some money on Agriculture Subsidies as it’s not that expensive policy, I like the idea of introducing notions of food security or self-sufficiency. Getting dependent on imported food will definitely upset the patriots and farmers. It will also make it a bit trickier to lower Cost of Living as crashing food price will have its consequences. Nice potential contents for further expansion of this mod.

1 Like

It would be another way to support farming which countries have done in real life, which is my rationale for thinking about adding it.

Thinking about it, there should also be a flipside to agricultural collapse: which would be an Agricultural Exporter situation. Due to a favourable climate and government support to agriculture, the nation produces more than enough food for itself and exports food to many different countries. This would increase foreign trade and relations (as countries find themselves depending on your exports of food) as well as making Farmers much happier with your administration and increasing their population of farmers too. Patriots would like this move and it would increase your country’s GDP from agricultural exports. This would be boosted by what reduces an Agricultural Collapse and vice versa, and some countries would already start in this situation (eg America), as a sort of destination if you want to make a major nation of farmers.

That sounds like another reason to add Population Density or Habitable/Arable Land Area simulation. While I was playtesting the Cost of Living mod, I felt like low availability of land (Japan and S.Korea most notably) should be taken into account as it will heavily influence housing/rent costs. I guess it can also interact with agriculture policies & situations.

1 Like

Why not both? Arable land area shouldn’t really be changeable in your game, apart from maybe by climate change and maybe by policies that increase the amount of land you can exploit (like land reclamation or irrigation of deserts, but that’s a stretch). Population density would be more easily variable, through increasing or reducing population or adopting policies that would encourage urbanisation or make rural living more attractive. Higher population densities, especially without proper public health services, would also play into disease spread, though increasing population density would also mean a lower footprint on the environment because of shorter journeys in cities, for example.

1 Like

Fair point. Maybe Urban Population Density alone can be enough. More rooms for control & potentially more interactions such as public health issues you’ve mentioned. Then I can just add some unique modifiers for Japan and S.Korea to reflect their low land availability.

1 Like

Several months ago I worked out a concept for a housing market mod in a Word document. Maybe a mod like that could relate to the COL mod. It also included “Urban Population Density”, “Habitable land area”, “Cost of Housing” and several other simulations and policy ideas. I don’t really have the time nor motivation anymore to work on it. But since you, @PARAdoxiBLE , are still active and make pretty good mods. Maybe you would like to take over the concept and create the mod?

I’m not really sure whether I’m ready to dig real estate issues but… that could be a nice starting point! Any help or info will be definitely appreciated :smiley:

Currently I am at school but I could send you the Word document later and then you can see if you want to do it or not.

1 Like

How to represent housing price differences caused by land availability or population density?

Before starting, I’d like to thank @HelloThere for sharing insightful ideas on a potential housing mod.

Since the reason I’m considering this idea is to reflect some factors on housing market to Cost of Living, I think making it simple would be better. So I’m going to add as fewer bubbles as possible in the game. Also, all the contents below are just paper-plans as of now.

New Simulation: Urban Population Density

  • Population (+)
  • Country-specific Grudges
  • GDP (+) (in the very long run maybe?)
  • Rural Development Grants (-)
  • Agriculture Subsidies (-)
  • Organic Agriculture Subsidies (-)
  • Road Building (-)
  • Car Tax (+)
  • Toll Roads (+)
  • Congestion Charging (+)
  • Satellite Road Pricing (+)
  • Limit or Ban Cars in Cities (+)
  • Punitive Tax on Superstores (+)
  • Telecommuting Initiative (-)


  • Higher Environmentalist approval
  • Lower Farmers approval/membership/income
  • Higher Cost of Living
  • Higher Real Estate Bubble (only when rising, not when maintaining high level)
  • Higher Bus/Rail Usage
  • Lower Car Usage
  • Higher Traffic Congestion (results no change thanks to lower car usage)
  • Higher Energy Efficiency
  • Higher Internet Speed
  • (possibly) enhanced bicycle policy effects
  • (possibly) some links to negative situations such as Asthma Epidemic, Inner City Riot, or Environmental Protest
  • (possibly) some cost reduction to transit policies & basic utility companies.
  • (possibly) crime boost & more budget-efficient Police Force
  • (possibly) bit more health issue (or even hospital overcrowding) but cheaper state healthcare

Potential Dilemma Choices

  • Reclamation Plan
  • Coastal Flooding
  • Controversial Highrise Proposal
  • Zoning Regulations (but honestly I’m not well aware of this issue :/)
  • Historic Building Preservation
  • Parking Issues

Things to tackle

  • What would be incentives to boost Urban Population Density? It doesn’t really sound like a winning move. That’s why I’m considering linking GDP into UPD in the long run so that UPD can naturally rise.
  • Not sure whether more policies/simulations that lead to lower UPD are needed or not. Currently there aren’t that many.
  • I can’t just decide to boost real estate bubble or homelessness at high UPD as they might turn out to be way too hard to deal with.