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.
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. 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.
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
Residential lots are no longer the center of game play. Residential lots are predetermined on the map. Houses downloaded from the exchange must be placed on an empty residential lot. Using the edit town option, players can change between community lots and residential lots using different lot assignments.
New in The Sims 3 is the ability to move the mailbox and trash can without using cheats. If a house has more than one door, the door nearest the mailbox is automatically set as the front door, though this can be set manually.