The Urbanizacion of Spain

An example of an Urbanizacion in Catalonia


Before I start on the details of this piece I should throw in a disclaimer; that being that I have no idea when Spain began building ‘Urbanizacions‘ and that hazarding guesses would be crude. With that out of the way, here are my observations of the urbanizacion culture that has spread across the Iberian Peninsula.

On our travels we have passed many signs pointing towards ‘Urbanizacion [insert random name here]‘ and they seem to be in every region we have visited.

Upon investigation we discovered urban villages which consisted of a concentration of houses, a bar or café and not much else. The houses seemed to range in size and quality with some areas being very low cost housing while others, set further back from the main drag, took on mansion like proportions.

The idea behind them appears to be several-fold; a retreat from the city in a quiet rural area, a cheaper but less convenient option to major towns or cities and lastly, an attempt to build communities.


Blue skies and sunshine are always a lure but for many people living in Urbanizacions the reality is far from ideal.

Blue skies and sunshine are always a lure but for many people living in Urbanizacions the reality is far from ideal.


A lot of people have taken the opportunity to convert their Urbanizacion property into a holiday home, either for themselves or to rent out. At a time when more money was around these might have been a good investment but a lot of people are now struggling to sell their houses and are stuck with them and their associated living rates. Property selling in Spain is at an all time low.

I spoke to some locals at one particular Urbanizacion who informed me that after living there for over four years they still didn’t feel like part of the community and the neighbours were largely cliquey. Part of the problem with most of these places is the lack of a social hub. Their village had a bar which never seemed to get busy except on summer weekends. The nearest shops were 5km away along with the closest church.

It seems that in trying to cater for cheaper, rural communities, the designers and their red tape destroyed any hope of them becoming a community, turning the Urbanizacions into nothing more than money spinners for the architects, builders and councils.

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