A sub-neighborhood or sub-world is a neighborhood or world that can't exist solely on its own. Sub-neighborhoods were first introduced in The Sims: Hot Date, and each subsequent expansion pack for The Sims added a new one which fits that pack's theme. They were designed as places for community lots and townies to be, and as places Sims could travel to and from.
In The Sims 2, playable sub-neighborhoods are not automatically associated with a neighborhood. The player must decide which, if any, sub-neighborhoods of a given type will be associated with a neighborhood. The Sims 2: Nightlife and The Sims 2: Open for Business each included a sub-neighborhood intended to showcase aspects of that pack. However, those sub-neighborhoods also expanded the main neighborhood, giving Sims more places to live as well as more places to go. The Sims 2: University and The Sims 2: Bon Voyage included sub-neighborhoods designed to give Sims places to go to college and on vacation. These types of sub-neighborhood are "restricted"; Sims can only go to them under certain circumstances, and can only live in them for a limited time. The Sims 2 also gives players the ability to create custom sub-neighborhoods of any type using terrain templates that were included with the game, or by using SimCity 4 to create custom terrains.
In The Sims 3, sub-neighborhoods are included in the World Adventures, University Life, and Into the Future expansion packs. Like the vacation and college sub-neighborhoods in The Sims 2, the sub-neighborhoods in World Adventures and University Life only allow Sims to live in them for a limited time. However, the sub-neighborhood for Into the Future allows Sims to stay indefinitely. Like The Sims 2, sub-neighborhoods are not automatically attached, unless they are visited by a Sim or edited by the player.
Except for college sub-neighborhoods in The Sims 2: University, sub-neighborhoods exist in a sort of "time warp". No matter how long Sims spend in one, they will return home no more than a few hours after they left. It's not only possible, but common, for them to return when they left.
In The Sims 4: Outdoor Retreat, The Sims 4: Jungle Adventure and The Sims 4: Journey to Batuu, there are vacation worlds that can only be visited for a limited time, like in previous games. The Sims 4: Get to Work and The Sims 4: Get Famous include secret neighborhoods that contain active career lots, which can only be visited during work hours or (in the case of the hospital) when a pregnant playable Sim is going into labor. The Sims 4: StrangerVille has a secret lab where most of the pack's story takes place. The Sims 4: Realm of Magic has The Magic Realm, a secret hub for spellcasters that can be accessed through a portal in Glimmerbrook.
Sub-neighborhoods in The Sims are often referred to as community areas. Except for Downtown, Old Town, and Magic Town, they contain 9 community lots laid out in a 3x3 grid. (Downtown has 10 lots laid out in a 3-4-3 grid. Magic Town has 9 lots, but three are residential.)
Each community area has its own cab service and its own rules about who can go to it, so it is not possible to travel directly from one to another.
The Sims community areas, by expansion pack, are:
|Expansion Pack||Community area||Who can go there|
|Hot Date||Downtown||Adults, either alone or with a date|
|Vacation||Vacation Island||Entire household, or an adult with a date|
|Unleashed||Old Town||Entire household, or an adult with a date|
|Superstar||Studio Town||Individual adults|
|Makin' Magic||Magic Town||Entire household in Balloon Cab; individual child or adult via A Hole in the Ground|
The Sims 2
The Sims 2 sub-neighborhoods, by expansion pack, are:
- Pets (secret)
- Weather (secret)
- Hobbies (secret)
- Magic (secret)
The Sims 3
The Sims 3 sub-worlds, by expansion pack, are:
The Sims 4
The Sims 4 sub-neighborhoods and sub-worlds, by pack, are:
- Plumbob Pictures (secret)
- The Magic Realm (secret)