Death — like taxes, it’s one of the only things in life that can’t be avoided. It’s also one of those fatally interminable moments we seem to spend so much of our brief lives mulling over and planning, even though we won’t be around to see what happens in the end.
What kind of flowers do I want? Which casket should I pick? What color suit do I wear? Should I invite the in-laws’ side of the family? But most of all, Where do I want to be buried?
When you think about it, the spot we choose to sleep for all of eternity is the most important of them all … since, well, it’s for eternity. But more important is the fact that our choice of burial plots, much like purchasing a house or a piece of property, is an investment that can either net us a profit or drive us literally to a poor grave.
Buying a cemetery plot ahead of time can save money, but selling it at a later date (before you die) can earn you even more.
An Expensive Commodity
Never mind saving for retirement; pulling off a funeral calls for its own separate savings account. On par with weddings as the costliest one-time event in a given person’s lifetime, the Federal Trade Commission, according to Dough Roller, has stated that a traditional funeral service can set back a family, on average, between $6,000-$10,000. That’s not even taking into account expenses for the coffin, funeral home fees, embalming, multiples viewings, church services, music, post-service catering, newspaper obituary pricing and your headstone.
Unless you’re looking for the cheap, budget-friendly way to dispose of your remains (like cremation), or the eccentric, unorthodox send-off (your corpse, shot into outer space), your funeral isn’t complete until you find a cemetery and a favorite place to be buried.
Burial Plots: Location, Location, Location
Perusing cemetery plots for sale is a lot like house hunting. Morbid though it sounds, the parallels can’t be ignored. Is your future grave site situated in an idyllic hilltop parkland, under a shady tree, overlooking the ocean? Is the grass manicured like a country club golf course? Is the cemetery historic? Is it in a big city, or a small town, in a clean, safe area or close to surviving family? Is there ample room to bury a spouse, sibling or next of kin when they pass away?
Burial plots are prime pieces of real estate dependent mostly on a couple of factors: Where they’re located and when they’re purchased. It can be either an uneasy or comforting feeling to know that your final resting place is reserved and waits for you. But like drafting a final will, reserving a plot in advance, years before it’s needed, can be cheaper for you and your family compared to finding a burial spot at the last minute.
Cemetery plots vary wildly in price, from hundreds to thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. To a large degree, it all comes down to supply and demand.
Last year, the first generation of Baby Boomers turned 65 and within 20-30 years will begin occupying our nation’s already overcrowded cemeteries. Two million people die each year. And cheaper burial sites in sparsely-filled graveyards will fetch top dollar in 25 years when empty plots are filled up.
A CraigsList search reveals that cemetery plots vary in price according to location. A plot near the main entrance of the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills cemetery in Los Angeles, CA advertised this month for $5,400; a comparably sized single plot in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, $4,500; and in Lincoln, NE, the same plot costs a mere $600.