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A Newbie's Guide to The Sims 3


Are you a Sims Newbie?

Newbies to The Sims 3 (the latest game in the exciting Sims series by EA) might need some help finding their way around the game.

This guide should make your experience easier and more enjoyable, right from the start! Even if you played The Sims 2, you might find The Sims 3 to be a bit intimidating.

In my opinion, it is best to view The Sims 3 as a totally separate game rather than a sequel.

First Things First: The Sims 3 Main Menu


When you first load up The Sims 3, you will see a main menu that looks like the one pictured above (except that the first time you load it, it will be entirely blank).

The Sims 3 doesn't start you out with any "starter neighborhoods." You will need to begin your own game file where your sim will live.

In the picture above (and on your main menu screen) you should be able to see a large + on the right. Click on that to begin.


When you click on the + you will see a drop-down menu in the top right. If you are just beginning to play The Sims 3, you probably only have one option: Sunset Valley. If you have added other neighborhood terrains, however, they will also appear in this drop down.

I have not installed the free Riverview or any player-created neighborhoods, so I'm going to go ahead with Sunset Valley. If you are following this guide as a tutorial, it will help if you do, too.

When you have chosen your town (in this case, Sunset Valley), click on the large check mark button.

The Edit Neighborhood Screen - In The Sims 3, you will only see this screen in the beginning and when you are editing the neighborhood


When you first load into Sunset Valley, you will get a screen that looks just like the image above. To the bottom left are arrows that allow you to rotate the world view, and the in-game menu (...) is at the very bottom left. Next to these you will see that you have three options (which you may not be able to read in the image above).

These options are "Create Sims," "Choose Household" and "Move in Household."

If you choose "Move in Household" a library of sims will appear at the bottom right. You can select any of the sims that come with the game, or, if you have downloaded any sims or saved some of your own, you can use these to add into your neighborhood.

If you elect to "Choose Household" this will allow you to choose among any of the families that are already residing in Sunset Valley. Choose carefully, because story progression is turned on by default, which means that sims in other households will age along with your active household!

For the purposes of this guide, we are going to "Create Sims." Choose that option.

Create a Sim - This is where the magic happens!


When you first enter Create-A-Sim, you will be given a randomly generated Sim to work with. You can either choose to change this sim using various menus (which I will explain in another lens) or you can choose to work with this sim.

Scroll to Continue

The Sim is displayed to the right and the options are displayed to the left. If you are familiar with The Sims 2, you will probably notice very quickly that you have extended options, very different from what you had in the preceding game. You can change the color of the skin (to include blue, green and red), the one of the skin, the body weight and the muscle tone of your sim using the sliders on the menu.

The other options should be familiar to you and will be covered in my Using Create-A-Sim in The Sims 3 lens.

When you are satisfied with your sim, click the large check mark.

For more information on CAS, please visit my Create a Sim lens.

Moving Your Sim into the world - Getting ready to play


I chose Arizona Patterson from my list of sims. He is one of my all-time favorite sims, born into a Sims 3 Legacy that I was playing (but which got corrupted).

At the left, you can now see the image of Arizona. Beneath him you can see the difficulty rating on his household, and the amount of available funds. Arizona is rated at a difficulty of 1 because he is a single sim and the game views that as being easy. Depending on how you play The Sims 3, even a single sim can be difficult (based on cash-on-hand).

Also in this screen shot you will see several small blue circles with either empty squares or empty house shapes. These circles indicate lots or houses into which Arizona can move. In Sunset Valley there are four houses into which Arizona can afford to move, and many empty lots.

I am going to move Arizona into a house instead of an empty lot. If I hover my mouse cursor over any of those little blue circles with the house shapes in them, I can get some information about the house, including the size and the cost, both furnished and unfurnished.


I have chosen "Pre-Fabulous" for Arizona. When I click on its circle, I get some more information about the lot. It has 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom (perfect for a single guy like Arizona!) and a purchase price of §10,003 unfurnished or §12,675 furnished.

I'm going to purchase the furnished home for Arizona, just to save myself a bit of effort. I can always change the general look of the home once he has moved in.

This leaves Arizona with some cash to start his life in Sunset Valley. If you've followed the steps outlined here, you're also ready to begin playing The Sims 3.

Good luck and happy playing! Let me know how you enjoy the game!

Note: More helpful lenses will be coming soon. Watch out for them!


Purchase The Sims 3 on Amazon

It's 10% off the list price!

If you haven't yet purchased your copy of The Sims 3, now is the time to do it! Amazon is offering The Sims 3 at a remarkable 10% off the list price.

The Sims 3 is the latest and best of the Sims franchise, and if you're a fan of The Sims, but haven't tried out The Sims 3 yet, you are ireally/i missing out! With Amazon's 10% discount on the game, you have positively no excuse not to head over there right now and snatch up your copy at this great price!

Especially now that expansion packs are coming out so quickly, The Sims 3 had become a force of nature. Get the base game and get accustomed to it and then add to it as you go along. You won't regret it!

Buy The Sims 3 Now!

If you have questions about the game that you would like answered, please go ahead and ask! I will do my best to answer them for you!

If you need more help with The Sims 3, please check out my Facebook Fan Page for Sims 3 Tips and Tricks!

Any Questions about The Sims 3? - Ask 'em!

minemyown on September 16, 2013:

Ahh..I remember playing as a newbie back in 2003? Lol! Now, my 6 yr.old son is playing it.

anonymous on July 29, 2013:

i want to play

anonymous on June 08, 2013:

@anonymous: that means a pre made sim bought it

Everyday-Miracles (author) on November 16, 2012:

@anonymous: You need to choose Riverview from the main screen. Once the game has loaded and you have the option to start a new game, you should have a box in the middle of your screen with a picture to the left and a drop down menu to the right. Below them you will see your previously saved games.

From the drop down menu, select Riverview and then create a new game! Hope this helps!

anonymous on November 16, 2012:

How do i play riverveiw on the sims 3

anonymous on November 13, 2012:

@anonymous: you cannot do that. you can add a mini house to the backyard or something.

Everyday-Miracles (author) on October 19, 2012:

@anonymous: The only way to do this is to switch families in edit world mode. You won't be able to control the inactive household, and anything in that household can change when you're in the other household. I don't personally recommend doing this at all!

anonymous on October 19, 2012:

I want to move one of my sims out so she can start her own life but I want to be able to play as both her and her family (not at the same time). How do I move her out and still be able to play both?

anonymous on October 02, 2012:

I'm playing in Riverview instead of Sunset Valley and the Hospital disappeared. The community lot is still there but when I tried to add the building in edit town the hospital wouldn't fit. What do I do???

anonymous on September 29, 2012:

I want to create a new family without quitting my old one but every time I hit new it gets rid of my other one. How do I change this???

anonymous on July 21, 2012:

@anonymous: I believe it's a button with a shopping bag on it. If you've never clicked it before, it should have white lines coming out of it. :)

anonymous on July 21, 2012:

@anonymous: You have to go into edit town mode and find the house you sent her to. This can be done by clicking on each house and seeing who's living in it. Once you've found her, click the button that allows you to swap to that household.

anonymous on July 02, 2012:

I had a house hold and the daughter grew up so i moved her out so she could start a life with her boyfriend. well when i moved her out i didn't set her as the main house hold or something like that and so i moved her into a house and then i went to go play her and the house is there but shes not the one that is living in it and shes not in my sim gallery. does anyone know how i can get my sim back?

anonymous on July 02, 2012:

I had a house hold and the daughter grew up so i moved her out so she could start a life with her boyfriend. well when i moved her out i didn't set her as the main house hold or something like that and so i moved her into a house and then i went to go play her and the house is there but shes not the one that is living in it and shes not in my sim gallery. does anyone know how i can get my sim back?

anonymous on July 02, 2012:

@anonymous: Go to the button that has the 3 dots and click on it and then go to the options and when you go to the options bar it should have a settings menu or something like that and then you click on it and it should give you a screen size option.

anonymous on June 23, 2012:

when i play sims 3 the size doesn't take up all of my laptops screen and its driving me nuts cause its too small!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!please i need your help....what can i do???????????????

anonymous on May 06, 2012:

I had a sims I didn't like so I moved him to a new house but I want a new sim I made to go to that house and move in..How do I do that, or have I lost that house for good?? I hope not because I spent 2 days on it..

anonymous on April 28, 2012:

i can't found buy menu please help me :(

anonymous on April 21, 2012:

My family tree is A toddler never ages up, a cousin lost her children (in the family tree), and now some sims family tree button aren't even clickable and if you try to access them via another sim, it either turns blank, or the picture is on the top left, cut into half.. Is there anyway to repair it without mods?

anonymous on April 07, 2012:

@anonymous: yup of course!

anonymous on April 01, 2012:

can you build huge mansion worth like millions of dollars with just the sims 3 base game?

anonymous on April 01, 2012:

can you build a million dollar mansion on the sims 3 without all the expansions and stuff packs? I love the sims and I really like to design huge and really cool homes than play it.

anonymous on March 12, 2012:

hey i have created my house with edit town mode then i made my sims but i can't choose my house to live in it......the household icon dosent come up in the map....

anonymous on February 28, 2012:

im so confused! i just bought the sims 3 and after i purchased a furnished house, i can't enter live

anonymous on January 11, 2012:

Do you know how to upload your neighborhood/world to the exchange? I have searched and searched the answers i see are so confusing, like go to view and change a thread?! I need step by step easy help! I know how to upload everything BUT a neighborhood because all you do is hit "share" and then go to the launcher! Please help meee!

anonymous on January 10, 2012:

On Sims 3 If u Move Ur Sims Out Can U Still Stay In Touch With Them?

anonymous on December 30, 2011:

I can't get my saved sims household to upload, every time I try it just gives the starting option to create a sim. My saved household is shown under 'My Studio' but all the options to upload are greyed out and can't be selected. Can you help me to upload my saved household and continue with my previous game?

anonymous on December 26, 2011:

@anonymous: U need he pack to do so

anonymous on December 25, 2011:

@anonymous: well... it easy you woo hoo first then breck up then it should have a little box saying would you like dodonate charity

anonymous on December 06, 2011:

I just wanted to know if you can create animals in he sims three. plus they have this opyion in the kids room menu with a dog house and bone????

again, unknown

anonymous on December 06, 2011:

Im having troube with this gqme. I have had it for two years, but can't seem to get seprate towns Sunset Valley is getting BORING HELP ME!! i need a new twn but i don't know how to get one. i have a mac, so if its differnet for those please tell me! Thank u,


anonymous on September 04, 2011:

Is there a way to revert back to a previously saved version of the game? I didn't realize that if you didn't turn off game progression that the households would continue to evolve and now my first sim has multiple thousands of dollars and a car while I was building up her future husband, which has completely ruined the storyline for me.

I don't want to restart the entire game though, since I've put in about 15 hours and they're both up to level 7 in their career fields.


anonymous on August 28, 2011:

the description of the game says you can create millions of sims and send them out into the world, so i was hoping to populate my town with lots of my own sims, but not control them all, just the ones in my main this possible? thanks for a helpful guide!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on June 29, 2011:

Your lenses are always excellently done. I liked your other image photo better though - I like to see your smiling face :)

mattseefood lm on April 30, 2011:

Thanks for sharing :)

TheNinthWave on April 24, 2011:

I don't really like playing the sims 3 I'd rather play the sims 2, but I like to create for both games.

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on April 12, 2011:

I don't play Sims, but my Son is addicted to it :) I will show him this page. Nicely done with lots of tips!

Lisa from Rhode Island on March 02, 2011:

Wonderful Sims lens great information Blessed by a SquidAngel

Everyday-Miracles (author) on December 08, 2010:

@anonymous: Yes, but story progression means that you don't have total control over everything going on in either household if you do this.

Click on the ... button for the menu, and then follow that up to "edit town." This will allow you to change the active household.

anonymous on November 27, 2010:

I hope this question hasn't already been asked, but I haven't found the right answer yet.

I'm not asking how to move sims into a different house - I know how to do that. But in Sims 2, when the kids in a family grew up, you could move them out into their own houses and play the different houses separately. When I tried to do this in Sims 3, the sim just moved out and I only had control of the family. Is there a way like in Sims 2 to move out a sim and play both houses separately, but in the same neighborhood?

Everyday-Miracles (author) on November 03, 2010:

@anonymous: I've had this happen too, and I have no explanation for it. It doesn't seem to matter whether you have story progression on or if you have it off. If you want to switch households, sometimes the household you want just doesn't show up. I'm playing legacies and when a sim moves out of the house, sometimes they disappear off the map, meaning that their family can't visit them (but can still call and invite them over). It is very frustrating and I believe that it is probably a little-known glitch. I suspect that others just aren't worrying about finding their sims once they move out.

If it is bothering you enough, I would ask about it on the official forums and see what you get. If it is a glitch it can be patched and EA will want to know.

anonymous on November 03, 2010:

Hiya im still a bit confused.. i have been playing sims 3 for a while but not sure if im even doing it properly! I prefer to turn story proigession off because i like to play all the existing households myself.. i play all the existing households and each time i play i just click on the picture of the household (in the main menu) that im up to and carry on from where i left off. Every time i try to move in a new family from the library (existing,downloaded or my own creation) they don't show up on the "world view" where i have moved them in, i can only play by slecting the picture from the main menu.. do you know why this is? It may sound silly but am i don't know if im playing properly or am i just looking too deeply into? lol

Everyday-Miracles (author) on September 02, 2010:

@anonymous: No, not yet. In The Sims 2 (and for that matter, The Sims), it only became available as an expansion pack. The next expansion is going to be Late Night (vampires and dating). The two we have so far are World Adventures (travel and mummies) and Ambitions (jobs, hobbies and robots). I don't know when pets will come along but I do know that a lot of simmers want them.

anonymous on September 02, 2010:

Can you create pets like you can create sims in Sims 3?I heard you can but I not sure?

anonymous on March 22, 2010:

@Everyday-Miracles: Thanks! We eventually worked it out. I think he did not save frequently enough.

How rare is this: Got married, one of the husbands traits was unlucky, got killed trying to fix the stereo. Grim Reaper brought him BACK to life .

Then my sim had twin girls (human) and then, twin girls (ghost). So now she has 4 infants human and ghost and a ghost husband who works . Hysterical!

Everyday-Miracles (author) on March 07, 2010:

@anonymous: I've only lost games to glitches (meaning that something has gotten so bugged that I can't keep playing a family) and so have never relied on backups. I had to do a web search and then make some assumptions based on what I found and what I know of the game.

Do you still have the backup file? If not, there's nothing you can do. If you *do* have it, then we can work together to (hopefully) figure it out and get his game back.

anonymous on March 07, 2010:

@Everyday-Miracles: Hi Again! My son was playing and lost his game....not the profile but the game. Went into documents and drilled down to saves and removed the file extension "backup" and still could not retrieve his game. Is it lost for good? And how can we avoid this in the future.

Everyday-Miracles (author) on March 04, 2010:

@anonymous: Keep them coming! I can edit the questions and answers into the lens later on (usually on Mondays). More questions means more help for anybody else who needs it :)

anonymous on March 04, 2010:

@Everyday-Miracles: Thanks< you're awesome! Probably will be back with more noob questions...but it's fun playing so far!

Everyday-Miracles (author) on March 01, 2010:

@anonymous: Sure can!

1. By Cheating ;)

Press SHIFT+CNTRL+C to get the cheat screen, and then type in "motherlode" this will give you §50,000 every time you type the cheat.

If you prefer NOT to cheat, then the answer will vary depending on who you ask. I like collecting to earn money (particularly in World Adventures). Fishing starts slowly but eventually can be quite lucrative. The same thing goes for painting.

The CAREER that will earn you the most, fastest is the Medicine career track. It pays the best at the highest levels.

2. To get new clothing in The Sims 3 is SO much easier than in The Sims 2. Just purchase a dresser, click on it, and you will get the option to "plan outfit." You can choose any outfit that is in the game.

If you want to add custom content, you can purchase it from the Sims 3 Store ( or you can download it from fan sites. Let me know if this is what you need and I can provide some links.

3. Yes, you can adopt children. I had to double-check as I've never done it before. Use your cell phone to 'call for services.' You will have the option to call the adoption service, and a social worker will be sent out to take care of you.

I hope that helps! Please let me know if there's anything else I can do for you :)

anonymous on March 01, 2010:

I have just started playing sims 3 and have been searching for some place to ask some basic questions. Hope you can help.

1. How can my sims earn the most amount of money?

2. How does it get new clothing?

3. Can they adopt children and if so how

Everyday-Miracles (author) on February 21, 2010:

@anonymous: Only Good or Evil sims can donate to charity in The Sims 3. You need to click on the mailbox and the menu should pop up, usually giving you two options to either donate to charity or to donate to undermine charity (depending on whether your sim is good or evil). Choose the charity you want, and then you can donate §100, §250, or §1000. Sims get a moodlet for donating the maximum, but I've never seen it for the lower amounts.

Does that help?

anonymous on February 21, 2010:

Do you know how to donate to charity in sims 3?

anonymous on January 29, 2010:

Fantastic job on Sims 3!

Everyday-Miracles (author) on January 13, 2010:

@nightbear lm: Thanks, Susan. You could say that this is one of my weird little obsessions, I guess! :-S

Taking good screen shots is something I've been practicing since The Sims 1. Next up on my list of learning how to do well is to build decent houses for my sims. Most of mine are ugly and inaccessible. I'd never make an architect!

Maybe I should do a lens about the history of the game and how it came to be a game. The original sims was created to help architecture students (and architects) to learn how to design homes! How about that!

My capture word is "squidnerd." That's me! LOL

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