I think that it would be a good idea to eliminate the concept of housing + homelessness from the game altogether. Chasing the balancing act of jobs vs. housing is the most tedious aspect of Stellaris gameplay. It's straight-up micromanagement and I hope you'll agree it should be taken out of the game. Read on for more detailed thoughts on this.
It's no secret that a lot of Stellaris gameplay works best at a low-level, during the initial stages of the game, and breaks down as you move from managing a handful of colonies to running an empire or a federation. Housing falls into this category. It's really only interesting in the early stages of founding a colony. Once you have over a dozen planets, having to go into each planet to building city districts to alleviate homelessness is just distracting. Conceptually, it just doesn't seem right that we can settle far off planets around distant stars – but the colony administration can't handle erecting the prefab shelters.
What is the purpose of a planet? Why should we settle them? It's not to grab territory. It was in the early versions of the game. Sure you claimed systems with your science ship (is that right? Was it the constructor?), but you could only build star bases orbiting planets you had settled. These days, you can upgrade any outpost to a star base, so why settle planets? You settle planets to give you resources, research, and recruit armies. In other words, you settle planets to provide the fuel for your strategic conquest of the galaxy. Micromanaging housing doesn't help with any of that. It functions purely as a distraction.
What do we gain by eliminating housing from the game? Simply put: it streamlines gameplay. How many times have you fought big wars that required all your concentration, and neglected your planets resulting in mass homelessness? Additionally, with the late game suffering in performance, having less micromanagement helps to keep playing through the lag. Eliminating housing improves gameplay, and mitigates performance drag.
What do we lose by eliminating housing? There's an argument that a staple of science fiction is the over-crowded planet, desperately seeking to escape to the stars (see Blade Runner, Elysium, etc.). However, this concern is often driven by environmental factors – not just whether there are enough houses for everyone. And these environmental and spacial factors can be simulated in a better way that doesn't involve housing. Planets can have a population capacity – approaching or exceeding that capacity can create negative modifiers to happiness and crime that encourage players to settle new planets. One way of doing this would be to stop pop growth on a planet at capacity if there is room on another planet. Modders have already approached this idea of pop capacity, e.g. Carrying Capacity or the Infinite Stellaris series, but no approach at housing has been made.
I think that eliminating housing would be of great benefit to the game. It would really be of help in the mid and late games. Devs might want to think about keeping houses in the early stage of the game, and having a tech or a building that can take over houses later on. But I feel that a simpler and more stable solution is simply to remove the concept of housing completely.
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