The settlement pattern of the K'iche' consists of centralized ceremonial and administrative centers surrounded by dispersed villages or hamlets. Each region has its own administrative center. Often these centers are relatively uninhabited for most of the year. For this reason, they have been called "vacant towns." This phenomenon occurs when many individuals maintain two residences, one in the country and one in the town. The rural residence is usually near agricultural lands and is used by the family for most of the year. The town dwelling is utilized during markets and fiestas, or at special times of the year.
Traditional houses consist of rectangular structures with double-pitched, tiled roofs. One of the long walls is often set back into the structure to allow for a covered porch along the front. The walls themselves can be constructed of adobe, cane-daub, rubble, stones and cane, and thatch over boards or poles. As a result of increasing Westernization, Western-style houses incorporating bricks, lumber, and corrugated tin are also common.