Recently I was looking for a Minecraft server to play on, and I wanted to play on a some fair, economic city server. Going through a few, I found some problems. The first had really bad staff (improper spelling and grammar is usually the first sign, not doing anything about people not following the rules is another), another was endless city that was really hard to play on unless you donated. This pretty much needs you need to travel hundreds of thousands of blocks to get to the end of the city (little or no warps), then travel much farther to find some wood or a material you could sell or use. Then, if you wanted to sell it (in order to buy a plot), you needed to find a person willing to buy. Most of the people one the server didn't bother with newcomers, so it was really difficult to get started. Finally, however, a few server listings down, I found a server called EcoCityCraft. I joined, went through a short tutorial (tutorials are a good sign that the server will cater to newcomers), then got started.
First of all, they had multiple worlds. One was the city world, and another was the 'wild' world. They set it up nicely, where the wild world got reset monthly. Griefing was frowned upon, but allowed, in this world (to prevent people from settling and getting mad when the world reset). PvP was disabled in all worlds except the Nether and PvP world. I got lucky and when I joined, the wild world had been reset only a week before. Surprisingly, however, there was very little marks of people being there (aside from tons of marks of mining), so it wasn't hard to get wood. It was also awesome that you could use a command "/wild" that would teleport you to a random place in the world, meaning that there weren't any resources around spawn, you wouldn't have to waste hunger and travel far.
The way the server is setup, you can rankup. The first beginning rank is Builder, then you can rankup to Resident when you earn enough money and read the rules and tutorials. After that, you can rankup to Mayor, which allows you to make a town/city, meaning you could rent/sell out plots or houses (called pre-builts) to players. Then, you could become a President, which meant that you could own two cities/towns.
The players on the server were all very nice, and welcoming to newcomers. Right away, I was able to get a free apartment (usually fairly expensive, or at least not free) that was only available to newcomers and permission to use that city's farm. The reason farming is a great way to earn cash is because you can sell the produce to the server (instead of a player). This meant that one 'career' (or method of farming) would always sustain you at the same rate. That is opposed to selling to players. If you were trying to sell carrots, for instance, people wouldn't always want to buy from you. They also may as well make their own farms instead of repeatedly buying from you. However, when selling to the server (using a command), it would always give you the same amount per item. Then, you could really have a stable method of farming, and this also gives a stable economy to the rest of the server (prices for plots, for example, wouldn't sell depending on how much much money the average player has).
The best method of farming (farming gave the most money, wood sold for very little and mining wasn't always dependable) was to farm cocoa beans, as they sold for a fair amount and were quick and easy to do with the proper tool. After about 15 minutes of farming cocoa beans in the town I lived in, I earned $1,000 Eco Dollars (the currency on the server). This was enough to buy a small 10x10 plot of land in the same town my apartment was in (prices change per town, but 1k for 10x10 was regular) right next to my apartment. However, I found out that once you buy a plot, you lose the apartment (probably because newcomers wouldn't be needing the apartment anymore if they have another place to stay. This was a rule for the specific town, however). I built a small business building (that I have only used as a small storage for now), complete with four stories and cyan-light blue glass windows. However, I did forget that the town had a max building limit (15 blocks) and mine went over it (17 blocks high), so I just had to lower it a bit. After some more more farming, I saw in chat (where people advertise houses, plots, jobs, etc) that someone was selling a lakeside house, and that it was the last one left in a row. I saw the house (donaters can use /tpa for teleportation), and immediately wanted to buy ,it. It cost $5,000 ED, and I only had $2k ED. I was able to buy it for $2k, then pay back the $3k when I earned it (the amount people trust each other is nice, though if I hadn't paid it back the house would have been taken away.
The last great feature about this server was the donation balance. There were tons of things you could donate for (including fly and teleportation), but while those seemed like big cheating things, it did not impede gameplay at all or even make it worse for non-donors. Most donators, in fact, helped other people who wanted to use the features (like helping teleport to each other). So though the donation rewards seemed huge, they did not seem to impede on gameplay much.