The Sims 4: For Rent Expansion Pack Review

The Sims 4: For Rent feels like a genuinely game-changing expansion pack.
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Danika and Dana Sweetz are having a peculiar issue. After a series of investments in a once-bustling food stall fell through, their capital income dropped significantly, motivating a new venture: building several new rooms on their home lot, and subletting them as Residential Rentals. Now, they’re waiting to use the shower before heading off to work – along with a cohort of fresh, equally desperate roommates. In The Sims 4: For Rent, you’ll often discover quirks like these, with new housing situations and investments available for players with the expansion pack.

Prior to launch, The Sims 4: For Rent was derogatorily referred to as a “landlord simulator” – and while it does add in the option to be a landlord – whether live-in like the Sweetz household, or otherwise – these features frankly aren’t the core hook of this expansion pack. What is most novel here is the addition of new living situations to make the lives of your Sim families more complex, and altogether more lively.

In the Sweetz household, which was formerly two sisters, there are now three additional occupants, in two Residential Rental units: an individual in a small room, and a couple in a larger room. Both share the kitchen and bathroom with the Sweetz sisters, as well as a communal backyard – which is where most of the household spends time together.

sims 4 for rent homes
Screenshot: GamesHub

There’s a real joy to be had in these bustling homes. When you wake up in the morning, you can see your neighbours get up with you, fight for the shower and toilet, fight for meal preparation space, go to work, and then settle in for a quiet afternoon by the pool. It’s a shared experience – one where Sims can make friends with their neighbours (whether they’re a landlord or another tenant in a Residential Rental) and enjoy shared activities as part of a community.

Read: The Sims 4: Home Chef Hustle is a foodie’s dream

It’s a wonderfully novel feature, having multiple families living on the one lot, and something that feels like it’s been a long time coming for The Sims 4. While it’s arguable that this feature should have been part of the game from the beginning, it’s still great to see it finally arrive – and in relatively smooth fashion. (I should note that some Sims 4 players have taken to social media and Steam to report bugs in building their own Residential Rentals – but these issues didn’t crop up in my particular playthrough.)

On a single lot, any room can be segmented into a rental via a dropdown menu. There are suggestions for what a rental should include, but no hard requirements – so you can rent out anything, really, although poor rentals will inspire tenant revolt, and other challenges.

After a room has been selected as a rental lot, it’s a matter of clicking through submenus to select from potential tenants (some are better fits, some will pay more rent), allocating rules, and then, you can start earning income – but more importantly, you can start making friends.

sims 4 build mode for rent
Screenshot: GamesHub

Introducing renters is a good excuse to overhaul your home to make it more people-friendly, useable, and more leisure-focused. Add in a pool, or a grill, and you’ll see your tenants flock together in these spaces.

Beyond allowing for shared activities, the new Residential Rental home lot type is more reflective of real-life living circumstances, particularly for those in their 20s who, by circumstance and economic conditions, live in shared households with friends or acquaintances. Every Sim in a Residential Rental is allowed their privacy – as rooms are considered separate lots, and appear blank if you’re in a live-in landlord – but they all live together and share lives under one roof. In a word: it’s nice.

It’s nice to see your Sim neighbours living their own lives. Using the shared barbecue to cook a burger meal, sunning themselves amongst the plants, experimenting with the pizza oven, or taking a bath in their downtime. It makes gameplay seem more exciting, and there’s plenty to pore over, as you learn more about your neighbours’ habits.

sims 4 for rent shared activities
Screenshot: GamesHub

To that end, this expansion pack also includes a special new interaction: Break In. That’s right, For Rent is also a secret burglary expansion pack, allowing you to nip into your tenant’s (or neighbours’) home to learn their deepest, darkest Secrets. You can’t steal anything, but you can investigate and discover weird tidbits of new Sims 4 lore – some of which feels right out of the Sims handheld games.

As a snooping landlord, one of the Sweetz sisters broke into her tenant’s home and learned that they had begun to see sentient eyeballs attached to hand-worn rings. These mysterious eyeballs followed this neighbour everywhere, to the point where they were starting to doubt their sanity. Creepy! Strange! Very cool! As an odd little add-on to For Rent, this mechanic is certainly worth exploring, and one that makes the expansion pack feel more robust.

Rounding out the rest of the pack is a bunch of smaller, but equally worthy features.

There’s a great new world in Tomarang, which feels colourful and intriguing to explore. It’s got a lovely night market to wander in, with different stalls being open every time you visit, as well as cool sights to discover: a tiger sanctuary with hidden secrets, a beautiful botanic garden, fancy bars, and plenty of winding streets. You can also find special dishes, clothes, and collectibles in Tomarang, all inspired by Southeast Asian culture.

the sims 4 for rent ea maxis
Screenshot: GamesHub

It feels somewhat like EA had a primary goal in mind with this expansion – to allow multi-family lots – and then built up the rest of the pack with new mechanics, a new world, and new interactions to flesh it out. For Rent feels a bit hodgepodge in that way, but it’s hard to complain about having “extras” in this pack. Despite a lack of cohesion, For Rent feels like an essential addition.

As a landlord Sim, you’ve got a whole array of new mechanics to contend with and explore, and as a renter, there’s now – for the first time – an opportunity to really get to know your fellows, and live amongst a community with insular lives. You can form deeper bonds with your Sim pals, make new friends, and even act out whole new dramas and plots, thanks to the tantalising closeness of your neighbours.

There’s so much promise in these new mechanics. You can build entire apartment blocks (as long as you use a special cheat code to unlock apartment per home lot limitations), pioneer SimValley’s latest trailer park, and even build duplexes for when your child Sims grow up and need their own space (and can’t afford a home, thanks to shortages and/or economic inflation).

Very few expansion packs for The Sims 4 feel like they overhaul gameplay entirely, but For Rent does just that, reimagining how your Sims live their lives, and how they interact in the real world. While there’s not a whole lot more to the expansion pack than that, its changes to rentals and the introduction of community living makes it a stellar addition to The Sims 4.

Four stars: ★★★★

The Sims 4: For Rent
 PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Maxis
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 7 December 2023

A PC copy of The Sims 4: For Rent was provided and played for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are rated on a 5-point scale.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.