Urban Sprawl

By Ian Teñido


Rural-Urban migration has been happening in all major cities across the world. In some cities, however, the migration is at its highest in the present day. With increased urban population, the problem of urban sprawl becomes inevitable. Urban sprawl is another word for urbanization; however, in urban sprawl, people move from densely populated towns and cities to more rural land that is closer to cities or towns. The effect of urban sprawl is that the original boundaries of cities are pushed over to lands that were originally considered rural (Stomp, 2013). In actual sense, urban sprawl is a reflection of the low-density residential development as well as commercial upraising on undeveloped land. Normally, individuals that cause urban sprawl are looking for a quieter and serene environment away from the hustle and hassle of the city life. Unknowingly, they bring about price hikes and improved valuations of the real estates in these new areas and not long after a low key residential development, the previously rural area becomes urbanized.

Migration and urban sprawl is not something that is getting popular right now, it has been happening from the beginning and that is why the size of cities and towns all over the world have been growing in surface area over the years. The direct impact of urban sprawl on the environment is devastating. The previously well-managed and preserved areas become the new landfills and all the filth that decorates the systems of a city become a commonplace. The peri-urban areas have traditionally served an important role in supplying cities with foods and organic materials. At the same time, the rural-like areas have natural settings that provide scenic nourishment to city dwellers. They also act as an escape from the city busy-nature and thus offer deserved tranquility to those who want to connect with nature. Urban sprawl literally takes away this privilege by making the surrounding rural areas unnatural. It pushes the tranquil and scenic boundaries further and further away from the city dwellers and as it happens, environmental degradation is inevitable.


Some of the key motivators of urban sprawl are lower house tax rates and rent. As you move further into the city, the more one is likely to pay in terms of house rent and rates. However, the rural areas surrounding the cities offer lower rent and rates, which serves as an attractive venture for most realtors. This can be reversed by unifying the land rates to a certain perimeter of land in order to safeguard the peri-urban areas.  Another main problem is the rise in population. In countries from Africa and Asia, they are experiencing population explosion and this means more and more people shall be living in their cities by 2050 (Stomp, 2013). This can be cured by proper planning and development of adequate infrastructure to accommodate forecasted population growth.

At the same time, Consumer preferences contribute to urban sprawl. Those with high income prefer bigger and palatial homes and these can only be built in more rural settings. While this brings comfort, it should be done, if it must, in a way that respects nature rather than in ways that disrupt nature. Urban sprawl can further be dealt with using policies that ensure the preservation of peri-urban areas. If global population is increasing, then urban sprawl is not a problem that is likely to go away, then it has to be dealt with in a way that supports the living consistently with nature’s enhancement.

It should be known that proper management of urban sprawl leads to reduced public expenditure, reduced traffic, improved health for residents, enhanced environmental outcomes, and improved satisfaction in life.


Stomp, A. (2013). An International Survey of Urban Sprawl Case Studies. Geography Compass7(7), 504-516. doi: 10.1111/gec3.12043.


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