Stellaris – How to Build and Upgrade a Habitat

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Enormous space stations, designed to house people, are a popular setting in science fiction. The Citadel from Mass Effect, Deep Space nine from Star Trek, and even Thunderbird Five from the Thunderbirds; all great examples of space habitats.

In Stellaris, you can build and even upgrade your own space habitats. In gameplay terms, they function a lot like standard planets. They come with their own strengths and weaknesses compared to planets.

Recommended Read: How Many Planets Should You Have in Stellaris?

Despite being the smallest of the megastructures, a habitat can have a massive impact if used in the right way. This guide will teach you how to both build and upgrade your habitats in Stellaris.

To build a habitat in Stellaris, you will need to first research the Orbital Habitats research project. You can then build a habitat for a cost of influence and alloys. After building habitats, extra research will become available, which will enable you to buy upgrades for your habitats.

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How to Build and Upgrade a Habitat in Stellaris

Before I get into the content of the guide, let me explain what a Habitat is. A habitat, in its simplest form, is a micro planet created by a space empire to diversify its planet portfolio. 

There is little to nothing to learn when it comes to artificial planets. Their interface works the same as standard planets. They still need to be colonized and contain pops which will boost your Economy

There are some very distinct differences you should be aware of before constructing them. First, they are tiny compared to planets.

They will begin at size four, meaning you can only build four districts on them. How to increase this size, will be explained later in the guide. 

Second is the unique districts that habitats can build. You can’t build farms or mining districts on spaces stations; the land for that infrastructure doesn’t exist.

The districts you can build industrial districts, trade districts, astro-mining bay, habitations districts, reactor districts, leisure districts, and research districts.

One last thing before I explain how to build these stations. DLC is required to be able to gain access to them. The Utopia DLC is the content you will need to own if you are interested in building your own space habitats.

How to Build a Habitat

As with nearly everything in Stellaris, you first need to unlock it with research. Habitats are no different and will require you to research the “Orbital Habitats” engineering research project.

If you have built any megastructure before, you will know that you need to unlock the mega-engineering rare technology; before you can build any megastructure.

Well, habitats are exempt from this rule. As a matter of fact, you could unlock habitats quite early in a playthrough if you get lucky.

The prerequisite to the orbital habitat tech is unlocking the star hold technology. The star hold is the first upgrade you research for your star bases.

With habitats not being a rare technology either, your chances of getting it are quite high. 

When you unlock the technology, you can begin work on your first habitat.

To begin, select one of your construction ships, and click the megastructures icon on the ship interface. This will open up the megastructure menu, and you should see an option to build a habitat.

Where to Build a Habitat

Now, the habitat can be built orbiting any planet. It isn’t very important which one you pick.

If I were to offer some advice on placement. I would say to build it closer to the center of your system. This way, it will enjoy the protection of the local star base due to its proximity.

The construction will cost you 150 influence, 1500 alloys, and 1800 days of in-game time.

When completed, you will receive a pop-up informing you of the project’s completion. Congratulations, you have achieved a successful build of a habitat in Stellaris. 

Now all that is left to do is send a colony ship to the habitat, and you are ready to start reaping the rewards.

Lucky for us, colonization takes place twice as fast on habitats; so it won’t take too long.

How to Upgrade a Habitat

So your habitat is up and running and making you some nice resources. But you want more. Of course you do, a habitat is a size four planet, and that won’t get you very far. This is where habitat upgrades come into play.

There are two upgrades you can get for your habitats. Each one will increase the habitat’s size by two; leaving you with a size eight habitat when completed.

This may seem small, but remember, you can build as many of these as you want and almost anywhere you want. 

To get these upgrades involves researching some rare technologies. Being rare means it can be a little bit harder to unlock, but if you play long enough, they will become available.

You can improve your chances of unlocking it by choosing the technological ascendency ascension perk. 

The first upgrade is called “Habitat Expansion.” Once the research is complete, you can enact the decision to improve the size of your habitats to six.

To do this, open the habitat interface and select the decisions option. Click upgrade habitat and pay the costs; 25 influence and 1000 alloys. Wait the 720 days, and your first upgrade is complete.

The second upgrade to research is called “Advanced Space Habitation.” The process is the exact same as the previous upgrade.

The difference being the cost, which is; 50 influence, 1440 days, and 1500 alloys. After these upgrades are installed, you now have a size eight habitat to do with as you please.

Habitat Upgrade Troubleshooting

You may be wondering why the game is not letting you upgrade your space station, even though you have unlocked the technology.

You can’t begin an upgrade project until you have built the maximum amount of districts you can.

Earlier in the guide, I listed all the districts you can build on a habitat. Your habitat may not be able to build an astro-mining bay, research district, or reactor district.

To build these districts; the planet the habitat orbits must contain a mining, research, energy deposit, respectively. 

If you build one of these stations over a deposit, you will no longer be able to exploit it in the traditional way.

You must build the district on the orbiting habitat to take advantage of the deposits. On the bright side, this often leads to much higher resource yields than the mining station would get alone. 

Starting With Habitats Unlocked

There are two ways to start the game with habitats already unlocked. This is done through the origin system during empire creation.

An origin is a backstory for your empire and determines the starting conditions of all empires in the galaxy.

The first origin is called Void Dwellers. This will make your empire start with three habitats in your starting system.

You will also be able to construct more habitats without the need to research any technologies first. This will also require the Utopia DLC to make use of.

If you don’t own the Utopia DLC, but do own the Toxoids DLC, you can get access to habitat. You will begin with a size six habitat orbiting your home planet.

You will be able to build more without the need for research. There is a big “but” though. If you do not own the Utopia DLC, you will not be able to research upgrades for any habitats you build. 

Starting with habitats does sound cool, and it is a fun way to mix up your next run. I would not recommend taking either of these origins if you are very new to the game.

Get a few games under your belt, and then try it out. These starts can be quite difficult, and if you are still learning the game; you could be in for a bit of pain. If you are up for the challenge, though, go for it.

This is everything you need to know about how to build and upgrade habitats in Stellaris.

If you have any questions or suggestions for this guide, please let us know in the comments section below. As always, have fun building space habitats in Stellaris.

Simon Neve

Simon lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and two children. When not caring for his family, Simon enjoys video games, board games, and tabletop roleplaying games. When playing isn't an option he writes about them instead.

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