Turning a piece of map into a flourishing metropolis is no small feat. Here are some tips how to do it.
1. In the game you don't have access to all features at once. To unlock subsequent areas or buildings you have to prove that you administer your city well and that you encourage new inhabitants to come. Numbers such as 1000, 5000, 10.000, 25.000 etc. are thresholds.
2. Never ever let your budget end up with an adverse variance. It can lead to huge financial troubles and to city's bankruptcy. Try to improve the budget's situation by trade with Omnicorp or destroy the most expensive buildings (if you can). Loans come in extreme necessity.
3. Always try to expand your city in breadth before you expand it upwards. In other words, try to use flat ground to build many new low-density zones. But be careful because there is no way to improve a zone - it means that in order to build medium density zones in the place of low density zones, you will have to destroy the buildings. Besides, high density plots occupy more space!
4. Try not to build public buildings too early. Build them only when people start to demand it and do not place them too densely. While building them keep in mind to meet the needs - the elite will not go on the court to kick the ball, they will rather choose the golf course.
5. The solution to the problem of a huge number of cars and traffic jams is generally public transportation. Building depots and bus lines may greatly improve the communication capabilities of the city. However, the elite will never choose public transportation and even the tube won't convince them.