If you’re playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf and are at all like me, you’ve probably got some notions about how you want your town laid out. Maybe you’ve already dropped a bunch of patterns around to make paths, and have planned out where certain public works are going to be located once you’ve unlocked them. You’re the mayor, after all, and development of the town is your job.
Well, surprise surprise, the animals do not give one thin shit about your plans for the town. They will happily move in and park their houses on top of your paths, flower gardens, expensive fruit trees, or where-ever the hell they feel like it really. And your powers as mayor do not include kicking their asses to the curb.
Well, I’ve done some research on the topic, and I figured people might find it useful to have all this info in one place rather than scattered out over the various forums, blogs, and wikis I scavenged it from.
I. Getting Rid of Villagers
Yeah, turns out there isn’t any good way to do this, really. Contrary to the rumors you may have heard, villagers decide to leave almost completely randomly. Things you do to upset them (such as hitting them with your bug-catching net, pushing them into pitfall traps, or mailing them garbage) may be entertaining and deeply satisfying, but this has no effect on making them leave any faster. (In fact, the interaction can make them less likely to leave. Keep reading.)
The first time you log in after 6 am, when the day’s events are generated, a random villager may decide to move away. It could be anyone. When they next see you, they will probably run up and want to talk, and when you talk to them they’ll say they’re moving out, probably on such-and-such a date. You’ll have the option to try and convince them to stay, or to blow them off. The degree to which they listen to you is based on how much of a friend you are.
The opposite of being a friend is not being an asshole, it turns out. The opposite of being a friend is ignoring them. So, if you want to keep a villager, interact with them a lot, write a lot of letters, and be nice to them, and they’ll probably listen to you when you ask them to stay. If you want someone to leave, do not ever go to their house, write them a letter, or talk to them — except when they run up wanting to talk to you, because they may want to tell you they’re leaving! — and they’ll probably go ahead and leave when you suggest they not let the door hit them on the way out.
Important: after a villager has agreed to leave, don’t ever talk to them again, even if they run up wanting to talk to you! They might change their minds!
On their declared moving day, their furniture will be packed up in boxes in their house. The next day, the house will be gone, leaving behind a patch of dead grass and good riddance.
II. Getting New Villagers
If you have 8 or fewer villagers remaining in your town (not counting player-controlled characters), a new one will arrive automatically. The first day this can occur is the day after the day on which the previous villager’s house disappears. It could take up to a few days, though.
Once you have nine villagers in town, no more will arrive on their own. It is possible to get a tenth though: either visit a friend’s town on the day one of their villagers is moving (the day their stuff is packed up in boxes) and talk to them until they agree to move to your town, or if you have the camping site installed in your town, you can convince a visiting camper to move into your town by talking to them and repeatedly playing minigames with them. In either case, they should stake out their future property in the next day or so.
III. Approving New Villagers
Ordinarily, it is not up to you where villagers put their houses. They can’t park too close to cliffs, walls, existing buildings or public works projects, or rocks, but they can and will cheerfully ignore your flowers, trees, and patterns. And ordinarily, there’s nothing you can do about that.
The secret trick that you may not have heard about if you’re not in the habit of browsing around wikis and other peoples’ ACNL blogs the way I am, is based on when the game saves. For an established player, the game saves as soon as you log in, so as soon as you come out of your house and see that your rose garden has been roped-off to be part of some asshole’s new property line, it’s already too late to do anything about it.
But a new character doesn’t save the game until they’ve talked to Tom Nook, decided where their house is going to go, and gotten their ID card from Isabelle.
So, here’s the scheme:
On the first day it’s possible for someone to move in (that is, the day after the previous villager’s house disappeared, or the day after you convince a camper to move in) do not log in with your main character first thing. Make a new character instead, and use that character to go look around and see if a new villager is arriving. You’ll know because you’ll find a roped-off patch of ground, and a signpost with the new arrival’s name. This patch will not show up on your map, you’ll have to go hunting for it. You may not find one on the first day or two, but the odds of someone moving in increase as days go by.
If you find such a reserved plot, and you don’t like its location or who is moving in (you can look up villagers here and here to see what they look like and what their personalities are), or if you don’t find a reserved plot and just want to try again, hit your Home button to return to the 3ds desktop, then X to close ACNL. Then boot ACNL back up, and make another new character.
If you like the new villager and where their house is slated to be built, or if there’s no new plot to be found and you just want to wait ’til tomorrow to try again (do not forget to repeat this process tomorrow!), go to the town hall and talk to Isabelle. She’ll direct you to Nook’s, who will ask you to pick a site for your house. After that go back to Isabelle, and then save the game and quit. On the main menu, select the new character, and ask Isabelle to destroy their house. After that, you can log in with your usual character.
Yes, it’s a long process, and yes, it’s a pain in the ass. You may be having that goddamn conversation on the train with Rover many, many times. It beats having your town wrecked by thoughtless assclowns, though.
And if you feel bad about cheating, just repeat after me: “I’m the goddamn mayor here, and I say the municipal flower garden is not a goddamn residential zone, so fuck you, elephant!”