Residential lots serve as private residences for each Sim family. Each lot can hold up to 8 Sims. Lots can either be empty or contain premade houses. All residential lots automatically have a mailbox and garbage can next to the street. The purpose of residential lots is for Sims to have a place to go in order to fulfill their motives. While a Sim could, theoretically, remain on a community lot as long as funds and needs allow, they can only "live" on a residential lot. In main Sims games and most others, the simulation only starts and runs when an occupied house is played. Just like in real life, Sims need to pay bills to prevent a repoman from coming to repossess an household item[TS1][TS2][TS3] or for power and water to not get cut off.[TS4]
When a family buys a lot and moves in, it becomes their home and the center of gameplay. If the family moves from one residential lot to another, all their belongings are sold. However, build mode items, such as doors, windows, stairs, etc. remain.
Unless the Vacation expansion pack is installed, Sims can only sleep on residential lots. (Vacation allows Sims to sleep on Vacation Island lots.) Residential lots are the only lots that can be edited during gameplay. If the Unleashed expansion pack is installed, unoccupied residential lots in the original neighborhood and Old Town can be edited. However, unoccupied residential lots in Magic Town cannot be edited even if Unleashed is installed.
The Sims 2
Like residential lots in The Sims, residential lots are the center of gameplay. Residential lots can be placed almost anywhere as long as they connect to a road, however, it is possible to have a lot anywhere one wishes with certain modifications. A household can be moved in from the family bin, as well move out from the house (via newspaper or computer or through the neighborhood's user interface. As in The Sims, a family's belongings, other than Build mode items, are sold when they move out of a residential lot. However, the inventory feature, introduced in Nightlife, allows Sims to take objects with them when they move.
Occupied lots (i.e. residential lots inhabited by a household) can be put in a Lots and Houses bin, however it's highly recommend to not do that as it can lead to corruption. Also, same applies with residential lots that contain gravestones, as those contains Sim-data traces.
Residential lots are the only lots that can be edited during gameplay unless Open for Business or Bon Voyage is installed. Open For Business allows Sims to open a home business on a residential lot and edit community lots that they own. Bon Voyage allows Sims to edit a vacation home that they own. Unoccupied residential lots can be edited if the Lots and Houses bin is open.
The Sims 3
Sims are now able to visit other inhabited residential lots. If story progression is enabled, empty houses may be filled with NPCs; a house must have a refrigerator and at least one bed in order to be automatically filled.
If the player chooses, he or she can move the active household to a new lot using the phone. In later expansion packs or patches,[which?] the phone can also be used to purchase additional homes. When a household moves out of a house, the player is given the option to sell household objects, leave them, or transfer them into family inventory. The decision to sell or keep household objects affects how much money is earned from the sale of the house.
For the first time in the series, playable Sims are able to visit another residential lot. This can be done by clicking on the house or lot's tag from map view to visit. At least one member of the residing household must be present before Sims can enter the house. Players will not be able to view the insides of the house until the Sim is invited inside. If there are no residents at home, or if the lot is unoccupied, Sims will only have access to the outside of the house. While guests are able to use most of the objects on the lot, some interactions may result in a warning for behaving inappropriately; interactions such as stealing food from fridges, detonating objects, setting up booby traps, or using objects where visitors would normally be discouraged from using (such as showers). If the Sim continues to behave inappropriately, they may be asked to leave by the residents. Oddly, some interactions, such as repairing broken appliances, may also incur a warning. Kleptomaniacs who are caught stealing may be asked to leave immediately. If all the hosts leave the lot, the visiting Sim will be booted out of the lot, with their current action getting repeadetly canceled that gets followed up by the queue "Go Home" action.
The active household's home lot will be indicated by a green map tag in map view. The residences of any Sims known by the selected Sim will be indicated by an orange map tag. Hovering over the tag will display the lot's address name, street, family name and show the icons of its household members who are currently home.
The Sims 4
Residential lots maintain similar roles to The Sims 2, while retaining some of the features from The Sims 3. Garbage cans are no longer necessary on lots, and players can purchase outdoor garbage cans in build mode. Mailboxes can be deleted, purchased and moved around. Residential lots do not require any objects to function.
Players who use the gallery can set the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms in a house up to eight. Also, lots can be placed in build mode, and can move entire houses across the lot.