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For anyone that is unfamiliar with the term urban sprawl, it refers to the gradual urbanization of otherwise undeveloped or rural land space. Urban sprawl can be any type of urbanization such as low-density residential development, high-density residential development, or commercial development. It can even mean infrastructural development, such as roads, power lines, water processing facilities, and other core urban structures spreading into rural lands. Regardless of the specific type of urban sprawl, the one constant factor is that human civilization has been creating urbanization since the end of hunter-gather societies.

Reduced Land Rates

One of the primary causes of urban sprawl is the lower cost of land and housing in rural areas. Over time the demand for centralized urban housing becomes too high, forcing many prospective property buyers to shop for a property on the outskirts of the city in more rural areas.

Standard of Living Increases

Another common cause of urban sprawl is the rise of the standard of living in a certain urban area. Once a community of people becomes better paid and more affluent, those people tend to be more willing to spread to rural areas with greater frequency.

Modernized Infrastructure

For urban sprawl to take place certain infrastructural demands must be met. When nicer highways, more reliable electricity supplies, and cleaner water resources become more readily available in rural areas, this tends to rapidly speed up the pace of urbanization. Urban sprawl tends to slow if proper infrastructure isn’t in place to facilitate it.

Poor Urban Planning

A negative cause of urban sprawl is poor urban planning. If a city or town becomes too crowded or the standard of living in that area decreases due to poor municipal planning, then large percentages of the population will start to flee to the rural areas for a fresh start.

Population Growth

Another primary driving force behind urban sprawl is population growth. Once the population of a town or city reaches a certain point, the standard of living begins to drop due to overpopulation. The primary reaction to overpopulation is urban flight, a term used to describe the phenomenon of people fleeing populated cities to start a new life in the countryside.