The key is using both analog sticks for mouse cursor movement - one at high sensitivity and one at low. I was doing everything on my PC from the couch for over a year and this was by far the best scheme for anything with a cursor. I wouldn't dream of playing anythign with control groups or unit micro, but for a single player pausable real time city builder it's fine. .
Console ports for some reason seem to think it's better to dedicate the second analog stick to either rotating, zooming, or panning the view. You simply don't need that on an analog stick and it pales in comparison to being able to reach any part of the screen in under a second while also having the precision to make fine movements/selections. I used the d-pad for panning and the bumpers and triggers for zoom/rotate. Once you have comfortable sensitivity settings on both sticks, it actually feels really good to use a cursor. But yeah, any game that forces the second stick to be your dedicated panning control feels hobbled and clunky.