When you receive your property cards, you can begin planning your game strategy. When you place your initial neighborhood, it may be good strategy to place it so two of your properties are adjacent to each other.
For example, if you hold properties 14 and 37, you should try to place neighborhood 3 next to neighborhood 1 so that 14 and 37 are adjacent. This will give you a pair of adjacent properties you may use to build a double-sized building either as your first building or to save for the high scoring shopping center later in the game.
Another opportunity that adjacent property provides is the possibility of placing city hall and then using its doubling power on a residence, bank, business, cinema or post office. Of course, building city hall yields no points, but controlling its location may give you large bonuses later on.
Early in the game it can be useful to spend a turn or two exchanging cards. By drawing 2 to 4 cards from one neighborhood, you increase your chances of getting 2 or more properties adjacent to each other.
Once you have them, you can use them to plan for placing buildings next to each other to achieve the bonuses possible for such placements. Of course, holding several properties in a neighborhood will increase the negative effect on you if a park or factory is placed there.
Acquiring and placing the parks and factories gives you tremendous power to negatively impact the other players. Also, by building them away from properties you plan to use, you can increase the scores when you build on those properties. As the cards for parks and factories are in the stacks for neighborhoods 2, 4, 6 and 8, you increase your chances of drawing these important cards by selecting these stacks when replacing or exchanging cards.
Another valuable zero score placement is the streetcar line. By building it toward property you hold, you may be able to score the double bonus placing most buildings adjacent to the streetcar line gives. The player who starts the streetcar line can give himself a tremendous advantage if he starts it adjacent to property he holds.
You should also seriously consider drawing cards from unplaced neighborhoods. Then you can spend a turn to place the new neighborhood that you have property in. This gives you the opportunity to place it where you will have adjacent properties in two neighborhoods.
If you manage to draw a double-numbered property (e.g. 11. 33. 88, etc)., you should consider saving it until later in the game and placing a church there. Churches score 15 points and this can make the difference between winning and losing in a close game.
You should also keep track of how many buildings of each type remain available to be placed. Be ready to adjust your building plans to place the buildings before they run out and you lose out. If you will not be able to place them, you must change your plans and the sooner you do that the better off you will be. With the effort needed to place a shopping center, you do not want to see another player place the second one.
Near the end of the game, you may want to pass instead of building the second to last property in a neighborhood if it leaves the double-numbered space open. A single residence, even with all bonuses yields only 8 points while your opponent's church, made possible by your play, is worth 15 points.