Abstract Existing frameworks tend to break when applied to the analysis of urban squatting. Five basic configurations, combinations of features that fit together well and are therefore effective, are discussed in this paper. In the case of squatting, configurations differ with respect to the characteristics of the people involved, type of buildings, framing, demands made by activists, mobilization and organization patterns. Each configuration also entails specific problems. Deprivation based squatting involves poor people who are distressed because of severe housing deprivation. In squatting as an alternative housing strategy people organize squatting to meet their own housing needs. Entrepreneurial squatting offers opportunities for setting up nearly any kind of establishment, without the need for large resources nor the risk of getting bogged down in bureaucracy. Conservational squatting involves squatting as a tactic used in the preservation of a cityscape or landscape against efficiency-driven planned transformation. Political squatting is a field of action for those who are engaged in anti-systemic politics.