So, I've been playing SimCity 5 for just under 12 hours now. And the one thing that I know to be absolutely true is that this game is ten times better when you learn the shortcut keys. Not all of them mind you, but there are some clutch hotkeys that you will love me for introducing you to.
[TAB] Cycle Menus
You can flip between secondary HUDs by hitting [TAB] or [SHIFT + TAB]. This saves you tons of time and wrist action moving the mouse down to the bottom of the screen and then back to where you just were.
[I] The Straight Road Tool
If you're setting up a grid-based city, then you only need to set it to straight roads once. However, if you're like me and you're constantly switching back and forth between straight and curved lines, the [I] key is incredibly handy.
[J] The Arc Road Tool
See above, but the converse. I don't use the curvy road tool because it's too unpredictable. I've learned the quirks of the arc road tool and I use it to great effect.
 Cheetah Speed
Instantly flip to ultra-supersonic speed when you need to wait and earn some cash.
[~] Pause Speed
There's no real reason to use the other speeds. Fast gets you money and then when you want to stop making money and start spending it, you just tap the tilde key.
 Water Map
Not all of the maps have shortcut keys. That should tell you about how important the water map is. If you've been reading this blog at all, then you know how often I'm in the water map checking for dry spots and pollution.
[ALT] The Grid!
The "grid" is the term Origin uses for it's guideline game mechanic. Basically, as you draw streets, your grid will update and give you a guideline that allows you to evenly space your streets apart. However, sometimes the grid interferes with your plans for world domination. During those times, hold down [ALT] and the guidelines will disappear.
Every straight road I lay, I use the [SHIFT] key to make sure that it snaps to the guideline so that there's no confusion later.
[R] Upgrade Road
Got a dirt road, but want a high-density thoroughfare? Use the upgrade road tool just by hitting [R] and you'll never have to three-click to get denser traffic again.
Wipe out abandoned buildings and rubble with ease. Just a tap of the [B] and you'll clear away unsightly debris and rehab whole neighborhoods with ease.
[CTRL + U] Unzone
So you wipe out a building and within seconds it regrows. Not bad. Except, what you actually wanted was to rezone the area. Now you have to bulldoze a second time. This shortcut allows you to unzone that which you just bulldozed so it doesn't respawn.
[CTRL + Right Click] Box Zone
When zoning, if you hold down control, it will highlight the entire roadway -- including around corners if it's a box-shaped area -- and allow you to zone incredibly quickly. If you didn't know about this one, you're going to love me after this.