Toca Life: City

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Toca Life: City App Poster Image
Open-ended play rules in a virtual urban dollhouse.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 6 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn through imaginative and creative pretend play. They'll experiment with self-expression, routine interactions such as shopping or getting food at a restaurant, and social situations. By being in charge of what happens in their city, kids can feel empowered to try out different roles, practice different actions, or simply enjoy getting to call the shots. If kids play with a friend, they'll also work on social skills such as collaboration, compromise, and team problem solving. When paired with extension activities and offscreen imagination games, Toca Life: City can be one high-quality, fun piece in kid-driven play.

Ease of Play

No rules, and nothing complicated here: Simply tap, drag, and drop to explore.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Small icon on the home screen takes users to ads for other Toca apps; actual purchase protected by a parent lock. Parents can hide this icon in the settings menu on their devices.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toca Life: City is like a virtual dollhouse in which kids can explore, imagine, and play. It joins the previously titled Toca Town -- now Toca Life: Town -- in a Toca Life series the developers describe as its "storytelling" app series. As usual, there are no rules, no guidelines, and no right or wrong way to play. Kids simply poke around four city areas and experiment. A recently added feature allows kids to record their voice as they moves things around on the screen, and save their stories to the device: For this, they'll need access to the microphone and the camera roll. There's an icon on the home screen that features weekly videos and silly facts about the Toca Life characters. In their device's settings menu, parents can turn off the music, or hide the Weekly News and Toca news icons. A short letter from the developer and articles on the website provide inspiration and suggestions for how to best accompany kids on this adventure.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6, 9, and 12-year-old Written byBelinda N. September 14, 2018

A good game for kids 3 to 8

My six year old likes these games, and I let him download a few on his IPad Mini, with this being one of them (the other ones being Toca Nature, Toca Dance, Toc... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old October 23, 2015


See my toca town review to see my opinion on this kind of game. Finally! Toca brings clothes shopping and hair salons to toca life! Otherwise I think this is ba... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byprincessjesusa2 August 21, 2020

The best

My family is

What's it about?

TOCA LIFE: CITY has four places to visit: a mall, a loft apartment, a hair salon, and a food truck park. In each, kids choose as many characters as they want and use their imaginations to make up stories as they explore the almost infinite number of things to do. Shop for clothes, groceries, or pets; color and style hair; prepare sushi or order fish and chips at the food truck of your choice; invite some friends over for a party, then water the plants and read a book before getting into PJs, turning off the lights, and going to bed. There are no rules, objectives, or a linear story to follow.

Is it any good?

This kind of open-ended, imagination-driven, kids-in-charge play is truly important for kids, and though Toca Boca creates magical worlds, there are still limitations. Overall, the design is very appealing, with lots of interactive layers. However, some aspects are a bit disappointing; for example, the hair salon could be more interactive and better developed, and it would be nice to see the characters react more to what kids do with them. The bigger question is whether a screen is the best platform for imaginative play. The power of kids' imaginations is remarkable: They may be better off when they truly are in charge and can create literally anything and everything with something as simple as a cardboard box. Yet, given the limitations of what an app can do, Toca Life: City is a more than decent attempt at inspiring creativity and pretend play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what kids see in this virtual city and how much it's the same as or different from what they see in their real-life cities (or towns).

  • Play with your kids and let them take the lead as they dictate what happens throughout the city. Always follow their lead, but provide helpful relevant suggestions that can make their play more meaningful, such as, "I see you've invited some friends over to your apartment. What do you think you can do together?"

  • Encourage screen-free creative and pretend play with dress-up clothes and props. For example, an extra sheet can make a great cape, or faces drawn on popsicle sticks can be puppets. 

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love preschool apps

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate