14 Ways to Find Abandoned Buildings Near You

14 Ways to Find Abandoned Buildings Near You

The methods I use to find abandoned buildings near me remain the same no matter where I am in the world. Additionally, the number one question among newcomers to urban exploration is how to find local abandoned or derelict places.

With that in mind, I hope this page can be of assistance in your search for your next urbex adventure. If you have any questions or want custom advice, feel free to reach out to abandonedworldphotography@gmail.com.

1. Explore Your Local Area (Slowly)

My favourite way to find abandoned buildings near me is to get out and explore either on foot or on wheels. First, I scan Google Maps and pick an area where I’m likely to find old or historical buildings and then I set off for a few hours. Areas that are universally known to have old buildings include regions situated around rivers, train tracks, coastlines, industrial areas, and historical/old town areas.

There are several modes of transport one can take when embarking on this pre-urbex explore, so here are my thoughts on each.

Bicycle: Bikes are the best mode of transport in my experience due to their discreetness, ability to drive down uneven roads and terrain, and ideal speed for scanning.

Car: Unless you are a passenger, there is no point in driving because you need to be able to scan for abandoned buildings at a slow to medium pace.

Motorbike: Bad idea. See above.

2. Check Heritage Building Registers

Most governments have a section on their website where you can find a list of listed heritage buildings. Within this section, there’s usually an option to filter between disused buildings, historical landmarks, derelict sites etc.

For example:

Ireland – National Inventory of Architectural Heritage

Australia – inHerit Portal of heritage places and listings in Western Australia.

Spain – Inventory of the Architectural Heritage of Catalonia

The UK – The National Heritage List for England

3. Browse Local News Articles

Newspapers often feature articles on abandoned buildings, structures and landmarks that have been left to rot.

Some articles may delve into the historical significance of a particular abandoned structure, shedding light on its past and the events that unfolded within its walls. Others may focus on the architectural aspects, highlighting the unique features and design elements that make these buildings visually captivating. Additionally, newspapers sometimes cover stories of urban exploration adventures, recounting the experiences, challenges, and discoveries made by urbexers.

An example can be found here: https://thewest.com.au/news/perth/perth-photographer-lainey-tess-quinn-capturing-citys-darkest-corners-through-abandoned-world-photography-ng-b881836357z

4. Download Phone Map Apps

There are a few phone apps which help you find abandoned buildings near you. For example, the OsmAnd map app allows users to download detailed map for specific areas. Users can then filter and search for “Abandoned Object” which should bring up plenty of listings.

5. Talk to Local Residents

Engaging in conversations with local residents, especially those with a deep knowledge of the area, can be hugely helpful in your search for local abandoned buildings. People such as bar owners, shopkeepers and others who have been living or employed within the same area for a long time will often possess a wealth of knowledge about the history and development of the community, including its neglected or forgotten structures. They may have witnessed the transformation of buildings over time or recall notable abandoned sites from the past.

Furthermore, engaging in conversations at community gatherings, coffee shops, or neighbourhood events can provide opportunities to connect with individuals who may hold valuable information about abandoned buildings in the area.

6. Find Urbex Groups on Facebook

There is no shortage of Facebook groups that represent urbex communities for niche areas around the world. Use the Facebook search bar to find groups relevant to your location and join the private ones. Once you’ve been accepted, you will find an abundance of urbex tips, itineraries, and insider information on the best hidden gems and abandoned spots near your.

These groups also have search functions which allow you to filter the posts per keyword which can save a lot of time scrolling through the page.

7. Finding Abandoned Places Using Google Maps

It takes some practice to really nail this method but trust me, it works. As long as you know what to look for, Google Maps can point you in the exact direction of abandoned buildings in your vicinity.

First, type your location into Google Maps, switch to satellite mode and zoom out as far as you’re willing to travel.

Then, look closely for signs of dereliction such as the below.

Dilapidated Appearance: Look for crumbling facades, sagging or collapsed roofs, unused overgrown driveways and pathways, big piles of debris, broken fencing etc.

Lack of Activity: Buildings that appear devoid of activity, with no signs of occupation or life, can indicate abandonment. Look for a lack of cars parked, absent signs of maintenance, and overgrown pathways, suggesting a disengagement from regular human activity.

Overgrown Surroundings: Neglected and unused buildings often have vegetation that has taken over the surrounding area and the building itself. Look for tall grass, trees growing through roofs and bushes overtaking the property. A high level of unruly vegetation and overgrowth often signals neglect.

It’s important to note that while Google Maps can provide a general idea of a building’s condition, it may not always reflect the current state accurately. Always exercise caution when exploring potentially abandoned or unused sites.

8. Engage with Local Historical Societies and Preservation Organisations

Local historical societies and preservation organisations are dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of an area. These organizations often have extensive knowledge about abandoned buildings and may even conduct tours or have access to restricted areas for preservation purposes. By reaching out to them, you can gain insights into abandoned sites with historical significance and potentially uncover opportunities for guided urbex adventures.

9. Explore Online Mapping Platforms and Geocaching Websites

Aside from Google Maps, there are other online mapping platforms and geocaching websites that can assist in locating abandoned buildings. Websites like Atlas Obscura or dedicated geocaching platforms often feature user-submitted entries that highlight unusual and abandoned places of interest. These platforms can provide valuable leads and detailed descriptions of the abandoned buildings, along with coordinates for navigation.

10. Attend Urbex Meetups and Workshops

Urbex meetups and workshops offer a unique opportunity to connect with fellow explorers and learn from experienced individuals in the field. These events may involve group explorations, discussions on urbex techniques, or presentations on notable abandoned sites. By participating in such gatherings, you can expand your urbex network, gain valuable insights, and potentially discover abandoned buildings that have been recently explored or documented by other attendees.

11. Keep an Eye Out for Demolition Notices and Development Plans

Local government websites, planning departments, or construction companies occasionally publish notices about upcoming demolitions or development plans for certain areas. Monitoring these sources can give you a heads-up on buildings that may soon become abandoned or available for exploration.

12. Network with Fellow Urbex Enthusiasts

Building a network of fellow urbex enthusiasts can significantly enhance your ability to find abandoned buildings. Engage with other explorers through social media, urbex forums, or local meetups. By sharing tips, experiences, and leads, you can tap into a collective knowledge base and gain access to abandoned locations that you might not have discovered on your own.

13. Attend Local Historical Tours and Events

Many cities and towns offer historical tours or events that focus on the architectural heritage and abandoned buildings within the area. These tours are often conducted by local historians, preservation organizations, or tourist agencies. Participating in these guided tours can provide firsthand knowledge about abandoned structures, their historical context, and potential urbex opportunities.

14. Attend Local Planning and Zoning Meetings

Local planning and zoning meetings provide insights into development plans and changes in your area. By attending these meetings or reviewing meeting minutes available online, you can learn about buildings or areas that are slated for demolition, redevelopment, or repurposing.

Happy urbexing! :)

1 Comment

  • Katherine “Kathy”
    Katherine “Kathy”
    January 30, 2024 at 5:43 pm

    You give such great information! I live in a”city” that use to have a population of over 10,000 thousand people and over10 sardine factories. We now have a population of 2,000 or less and it’s mostly over 40. There are many old buildings and I know some are haunted! There was a war in 1812 when England claimed that Eastport was on the British side of the international border,Eastport was claimed and wasn’t returned until 1818. There is actually a place where there stood, Fort Sullivan! We are the most eastern “city” in the United States and we see the sun rise first! It rises over Campabello, New Brunswick, Canada.


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