Money making guide

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There are lots of ways to "make money" in RimWorld. Depending on the strengths/weaknesses of your colony, its location and inhabitants, some might be more lucrative or attractive than others. Some might give more profit in the long term, but require more set-up time, or more labor. And there are (at least!) two ways to measure "best" - making the fastest profit in the least time, or squeezing the most profit out of a limited amount of starting material, even if it takes longer. This guide will give an overview of the different options, with links to guides that expand in more detail on that specific pursuit.

In no particular order, options include:

  • Crops, which can lead to drug production
  • Animals, which can lead to textiles and Crafting
  • Construction, often a byproduct of idle high-skill Constructors or unwanted lower-quality items
  • Art or Crafted items, similar to construction
  • Prisoners, and how to make the most of them
  • Loot, found after a raid - what to sell, what to melt

Although "Trading", with visiting caravans or by sending your own to neighboring outposts, and/or via an orbital trade beacon, is an important part of economics, and a pawn with a high Social skill will get you the best prices, keep in mind that there is a base trade modifier of 60% for selling, 140% for buying, so you will not be able to "buy low, sell high" with the same items to different traders. However, some traders will only accept certain items in trade, so in that case, investing in something that is more widely accepted might be a way of turning something generally unwanted into something less valuable but that you can actually trade away. 10,000 silver in human leather is worthless if no one wants it, or if those who do want it have nothing you want.

Note: Producing things from gold and silver is best when someone has a high skill level and a creativity inspiration, as it improves the chances of getting a top-quality item. However, at the extreme high end, be cautious about creating a "white elephant", something so valuable that no trader or faction has the silver to purchase it and you're stuck with either trading it for a fraction of its value, or putting it in your Dining Room and cursing it every time you see it.

Food Production

Corn is the most profitable. It is actually more profitable than all the cash crops, but can't be turned into finished products, so the chain of profit making relies entirely on the grow cycle. Also, psychoid leaves are more valuable per material so it makes it easier to gather and haul. In terms of economics, hay is more nutrition per day but slightly less per unit work than corn, it should only be grown in limited growing season regions to feed livestock or even just once to lay down straw matting if work time is precious. It is usually better to grow faster growing crops when you don't have rich soil, so use rich soil for cash crops (especially corn) and regular soil for faster growing hay and fast growing cash crops (especially hops). Corn is still preferable to other low yield human edible crops in normal soil, but for subsistence in the early game rice is preferable in normal soil AND rich soil. Plants that can be grown in rocky soil (from best to worst in terms of fertility sensitivity): fibercorn(.1), nutrifungus(.15), potato plant(.4), haygrass(.6), hop plant(.7), and no other is well suited to rocky soil. Note: In the beginning of the game, 24 rice in normal soil is the minimum subsistence amount, so grow that along with all other crops being for profit! Hay can be planted in animal pens, set to not cut, and animals will eat it. Only when winter comes should you cut the hay. However, if there is limited time, corn and cash crops can be prioritized as it has much higher value for cutting.

Crop Work to sow Work to harvest Total work to grow Raw material per plant Raw material value (Selling) Value added per unit work Time to grow (in normal soil, including account rest time) Profit per day Nutrition per day Nutrition per unit work
corn plant 170 200 370 22 .66 .039 20.86 .696 .0527 .00297
haygrass 170 200 370 18 .36 .0175 12.92 .501 .0697 .0024
rice plant 170 200 370 6 .66 .0107 5.54 .715 .05415 .00081

You can also mass produce cooked meals as a means of condensing material to sell. Simple meals are the most profitable, both in terms of profit/resource and profit per unit work.

Note: Pemmican is good to keep around for people who are food poisoned so they can ingest discrete portions. Also, for long caravan journeys. It is a must for neolithic tech colonies. Note: Hay is the most nutrition/day crop. This means it can feed far more animals than other crops. Note: Meat should never be used to make simple meals and only hay should be used to make kibble.

Meal Work to make Raw material value (Selling) Value added (selling) Value added per unit work
Simple meal(Plant) 300 6.6 2.4 .008
Simple meal(Meat) 300 12 -3 -.01
Fine meal 450 9.9 2.1 .0047
Lavish meal 800 18.8 5.2 .0065
Pemmican 700 9.9 3.54 .005
Kibble(hay) 450 31.2 1.8 .004

Cash Crops

Cash crops are the ultimate renewable resource, meaning they can be relied upon season over season.

Plant work speed and harvest yield are two factors affected by skill level, manipulation, sight, and global work speed. It is crucial to have a skill level of 6 in plants, going higher may increase work speed (11.5%/level) but does not noticeably increase yield (3,2,1...%) and also allows the most profitable cash crop, psychoid plants, to be grown. Herbal medicine is not the most profitable crop so level 8 in plants is unnecessary for cash considerations, although it may be helpful for general medical purposes. Plants level 4 is the minimum recommended level for this money making strategy.

Note on medicine:

Therefore producing medicine from bought ingredients costs more than purchasing medicine directly, so is counterproductive and should be avoided. Medicine is 1.66 as effective as herbal medicine but almost twice as expensive so, for purely economic purposes, it's cost effective to buy herbal medicine instead of medicine. Glitterworld medicine is 1.6 times as effective but is more than twice as expensive. Growing herbal medicine is so low profit and drug production is so costly in making real medicine that it is best to use the profits from other crops to purchase herbal medicine and medicine production should be avoided for economic purposes.

Crop Work to sow Work to harvest Total work to grow Raw material per plant Raw material value (Selling) Value added per unit work Time to grow (in normal soil, including account rest time) Profit per day
hops 170 200 370 8 .78 .016 9.23 .676
smokeleaf 170 200 370 9 .96 .0233 13.85 .624
psychoid 170 200 370 8 1.14 .024 16.62 .549
healroot 800 400 1200 1 6 .005 12.92 .464

Value added labor used to make finished products may further increase profits but at a lower rate of profit per unit work. The upside is that this can be done continuously while growing is an intermittent activity. Corn is the best cash crop without further processing, however some "drug" crops can be far more profitable if processed into an end product.

Note: A grower working round the clock would be more profitable for purely selling than a grower splitting his/her time between multiple activities, including drug production. However, a specialized grower coupled with a specialized drug producer and hauler is the most profitable configuration. It is best to remove hauling from your growers work tab to maximize production (or put it at a minimal priority). It is important to notice that the best configuration and overall productivity and money saved may include a grower who also produces drugs (to keep within the colony).

Note: Go juice is something that should only be traded in one direction, bought and not sold. It is better to make it yourself though.

Note: Wake up is the most profitable for selling. It also is more profitable than money saved for several drugs, some drugs have high money saved though.

Drug Production

Drug Work to process Processed value added (selling) Money saved by producing and not selling Value added per unit work Money saved per unit work
psychite tea 400 1.44 8 .0036
beer 200 3.3 4.8 .0165 .0405
joints 450 2.76 4.4 .0061 .0159
yayo 350 3.48 8.4 .0099 .0339
flake 250 3.84 5.6 .01536 .03776
go-juice (made yayo) 950 -6 21.2 -.0063 .016
go juice (bought yayo) 600 -14.4 21.2 -.024 .0113
wake-up 900 18.2 14 .02 .0357
penoxycyline 600 1.2 7.2 .002 .014
medicine 700 -3.5 7.2 -.005 .005

Creating bulk goods

Creating goods is another way of making money. Often this is incidental, as your Constructors/Crafters/Artists create low-quality efforts that you'd prefer to sell than to use.

The selling prices of the following item types are affected by this multiplier. Note that this doesn't affect the buying price.

Type Factor
Furniture x0.7
Sculptures x1.1
Weapons x0.2
Other x1.0

The multipliers make it more difficult to farm raids for profit, because weapons dropped by dead enemies are not valuable in trade. It also means that crafting weapons in your colony only makes sense for personal use, and not for selling. The game encourages creating art for sale, as it is more profitable than all other items. The default value for all other items (including materials, food, apparel etc) is 1 (100% market value).

Sculpture Production

The game encourages creating art for sale, as it is about 57% more profitable than any other similarly created item. Wood is the only material that makes sense to build sculptures for profit in terms of value added per unit work. For materials other than wood, the ratio of work cost versus value added is so low that it isn't worth it unless you either 1) have time and material to burn, or 2) are trying for a specific high-quality sculpture and are willing to sell off the failures.

Small sculptures have the highest value per material and lowest value-added per work, while grand sculptures are the opposite (with large sculptures falling neatly in the middle). What this means is that if you have time but are short on material and want to make the most of what you do have, make small sculptures. Conversely, if you have lots of material and want to create value (relatively) quickly, make grand sculptures. Practically speaking, grand sculptures, at a size of 4x4, are not as useful in your colony as large sculptures, so many players make large and sell off their lower-quality discards.

Also, be mindful that visiting traders may not have the silver to buy the most expensive large/grand sculptures, so you'd have to form a caravan of your own and go visiting, just like they do.

Note: It is about 1/10th as profitable to make sculptures per unit work as to farm.

Size Work to process Processed value added (selling) Value added per unit work
Small sculpture 12600 33.3 .00264
Large sculpture 21000 57.36 .00273
Grand sculpture 73500 339.5 .00462
Quality Base Beauty
Base Value
Awful -10% 50%
Poor 50% 75%
Normal 100% 100%
Good 200% 125% (max +500)
Excellent 300% 150% (max +1000)
Masterwork 500% 250% (max +2000)
Legendary 800% 500% (max +3000)

Furniture production

Armchairs are the most profitable, and a good way to use textiles that have no use for protective apparel. Remember that furniture has an additional .7x multiplier for sale, therefore it is more profitable to just sell the textile than to make it into furniture to sell.

Furniture Work to make Raw material per Value added (Selling) Value added per unit work
Armchair 14000 110 -8.7 -.000624

Apparel Production

Quality effects market value. When making armor it's best to use the best material: plasteel, uranium, steel, wood. The added value is higher than the extra work to make.

Dusters are the most profitable.

Note: Farming is way more profitable, making clothing/furniture should be reserved for making it yourself, and should be purchased at every opportunity, again these items are best traded in one direction - bought and not sold.

Clothing Work to make Value added (Selling) Value added per unit work
Duster 10000 21.6 .00216

Quality Armor
Market Value Max Market Value Gain Deterioration Rate Beauty
Awful 0.6 0.8 0.5 - 2 -0.1
Poor 0.8 0.9 0.75 - 1.5 0.5
Normal 1.0 1.0 1.0 - 1 1
Good 1.15 1.1 1.25 500 0.8 2
Excellent 1.3 1.2 1.5 1000 0.6 3
Masterwork 1.45 1.5 2.5 2000 0.3 5
Legendary 1.8 1.8 5 3000 0.1 8

Material Production