How Much Does a Cemetery Plot Cost?

Last Updated on April 4, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Purchasing a cemetery plot is an important part of end-of-life planning, but it can be a difficult topic to think about. Understanding cemetery plot costs and the factors that influence pricing is essential for making informed decisions.

This article provides an overview of cemetery plot prices and guidance on budgeting for this significant funeral expense.

When beginning the process of selecting a final resting place, the costs associated with burial plots can understandably catch families by surprise. Prices can range anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 or more, depending on the location, type of plot, and cemetery amenities. While it’s a considerable investment, a cemetery plot secures a permanent memorial site for a loved one to be laid to rest.

How Much Does a Cemetery Plot Cost?

A cemetery plot refers to the grave space designated for burial. When you purchase a plot, you are buying the right to inter human remains or cremated ashes in that specific location. The price covers the cost of the land itself and an easement for accessing the burial site. It may also include perpetual care and maintenance fees charged by the cemetery.

Plot prices are determined by the cemetery and can vary greatly. In general, expect to spend $2,500 to $7,000 for a single adult grave plot. Companion plots for couples may cost $4,000 to $12,000.

Larger family plots with space for multiple graves are typically $10,000 to $30,000. The cost for a mausoleum crypt averages $7,000 to $25,000. Cremating remains offers a lower-cost option, with prices for a cremation plot or columbarium niche ranging from $1,500 to $4,000.

Cemetery.com reports that the average price of a single burial plot often ranges between $1,000 and $4,500.

Cedar Grove Cemetery provides prices upon request, with grave prices generally ranging from $18,000 to $20,000.

Londonderry, NH provides lot pricing for single and double plots, with a single plot priced at $500 and a double plot priced at $800.

Factors Influencing the Cost of a Cemetery Plot

Several key factors account for the wide range of cemetery plot prices:

  • Location – Plots in metropolitan areas or desirable locales near water can be much more expensive than those in rural locations. Urban cemetery costs may be $5,000 to $15,000, while rural plots range from $500 to $2,000.
  • Type of plot – Larger, multi-grave family plots are generally more expensive than smaller single or companion plotsMausoleum spaces and crypts also command higher prices.
  • Cemetery type – Private cemeteries tend to charge more than municipal, religious, or nonprofit ones. Military, fraternal and veterans’ cemeteries offer reduced costs for eligible individuals.
  • Amenities and services – Added features like landscapingmausoleums, or crematoriums can increase overall costs. Perpetual care and maintenance also contribute to higher prices.

Types of Cemetery Plots

Cemeteries offer different types of burial plots to suit individual needs:

  • Single plots hold one casket burial for a single person. They measure around 3.5 by 9 feet and are the most common choice. The cost for a single plot starts around $2,500 but can exceed $10,000 in high-demand locations.
  • Companion or double plots allow couples to be buried side-by-side. They are at least 7 by 9 feet and range from $5,000 to $15,000 on average.
  • Family plots with multiple grave spaces are intended for extended families. Large plots with up to 12 burial spaces can cost over $30,000. Individual graves within family plots may be priced separately.
  • Urn plots are designed for cremated remains. The smaller size (2 by 2 feet) makes their cost lower, often $1,000 to $2,500.
  • Mausoleums provide restricted above-ground entombment in crypts. Pricing starts around $8,000 but premium locations exceed $25,000.

Additional Costs to Consider

CemeteryThe base cost of a cemetery plot covers just the burial space. Funeral ceremonies, burial services, and memorial headstones or markers will be additional expenses. Other common fees to account for include:

  • Opening and closing fees to excavate the grave and re-seal it, generally $800 to $2,000.
  • Vault or grave liner fees averaging $1,200 to $4,000. These are legally required in many areas.
  • Memorial costs for a headstone$1,500 to $3,000, or grave marker$500 to $1,500.
  • Interment fees charged by the cemetery for staff and equipment to conduct the burial, around $1,000.
  • Perpetual care fund contributions may be mandatory, ranging from $500 to $1,500+. This supports ongoing cemetery maintenance.

Geographical Variations in Plot Costs

The cost of a cemetery plot depends heavily on the location and local real estate market. In densely populated urban areas where land is limited, plot prices are typically higher compared to rural locations.

Some examples of average cemetery plot costs in major US cities:

  • New York City, NY – $15,000 to $35,000
  • Chicago, IL – $7,000 to $15,000
  • Austin, TX – $4,500 to $7,000
  • Detroit, MI – $2,500 to $5,000
  • Rural Ohio – $1,000 to $3,000

International cemetery costs also span a wide range but are generally lower outside of North America and Western Europe. Plot prices in Mexico or Eastern Europe may be a fraction of the cost of comparable US locations.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a Jazz funeral, grave blanket, or gravestone engraving.

How to Save on Cemetery Plot Costs

If you want to minimize cemetery expenses, here are some tips:

  • Pre-purchase a plot to lock in today’s lower prices and avoid inflation over time. This also secures a desired location.
  • Compare pricing across multiple cemeteries, and choose a more affordable funeral home. Less populated rural areas offer significant savings on plots.
  • Opt for cremation and an urn plot. Even with a burial container and plaque, cremation plots can reduce costs by 50% or more.
  • Purchase group family plots which lower the per-grave cost with volume discounts. Sharing a larger plot can save thousands over individual plots.
  • Prepay cremation and burial through reputable funeral plans that cover future costs at today’s prices.

The Purchase Process

When ready to move forward, follow these steps for buying a cemetery plot:

  • Research cemeteries in your preferred locations and compare pricing. Get quotes in writing.
  • Understand the cemetery contract and payment terms. Seek clarification on costs, ownership, and transferability.
  • Evaluate financing options if needed, such as payment plans or life insurance funding alternatives.
  • Negotiate costs like opening/closing and vault fees which may be flexible.
  • Confirm transferability and heirship rights in case of a move or change of plans.
  • Prepay any perpetual care or maintenance costs to cover future obligations.

Overall, allow yourself time to make informed, thoughtful decisions when arranging a final resting place for yourself or a loved one. With proper planning, you can secure an affordable, meaningful cemetery arrangement.

Final Words

Planning ahead for cemetery plot costs allows you to make good decisions about burial arrangements. While prices can climb into the thousands or tens of thousands, there are also more budget-friendly options if cost is a concern.

With an understanding of the many variables that influence pricing, you can identify affordable cemetery plot and funeral options that still provide a dignified memorial site and service.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many coffins can go in a grave?

The standard dimensions for a single adult grave allow space for only one full-size coffin per burial. However, two coffins can sometimes fit into a single grave under certain circumstances:

  • Some cemeteries allow double-depth graves, with one coffin buried on top of another. However, double-depth burials are not permitted everywhere due to legal restrictions.
  • Two cremation urns containing ashes may be buried in a single grave. The smaller size of urns, around 200 cubic inches, makes this possible. Four or more urns could potentially fit in the space of one traditional grave.
  • Infant or child coffins may be small enough to place more than one within a standard adult grave. But cemeteries have restrictions against multiple burials without authorized permission.
  • If a couple wishes to be buried together, cemeteries may allow two coffins to be buried side-by-side in a shared “companion” plot wider than a single grave. That allows couples to rest next to each other eternally.

So in most cases, one coffin per grave remains the norm. Special exceptions can sometimes be made for cremated remains or smaller coffin sizes, but regulations limit mass burial of multiple bodies in a standard grave plot.

How long do graves last?

There is no set time frame for how long a grave site will last or remain usable. Properly maintained graves can essentially last indefinitely. However, here are some factors that determine long-term use:

  • Overcrowded cemeteries may reuse graves after a certain period, usually 15-30 years after the most recent burial. Laws prohibit reusing a grave until all remains are fully decomposed.
  • Extreme weather events or shifting ground conditions can cause graves to sink or become damaged over decades. Graves may need maintenance to remain intact.
  • The type of coffin or outer burial container impacts durability. Simple wooden caskets decay faster than protected metal caskets or concrete burial vaults.
  • Modern maintenance techniques help preserve cemeteries. Adding drainage, leveling markers, and resetting headstones keeps sites usable longer.
  • Nature takes its course, with graves naturally decomposing and coffins eventually collapsing. But well-funded cemeteries provide perpetual care to keep plots usable for generations.

Barring major disruption or abandonment, most graves can continue memorializing deceased individuals for centuries if properly maintained by the cemetery. Families who wish to ensure perpetual grave use can establish endowed care funds through cemeteries.

How long do coffins last underground?

Coffins and caskets gradually decompose after burial, but the timeframe depends on composition and burial conditions:

  • Wooden coffins decay relatively quickly, within 10-25 years. The softer wood breaks down faster from moisture exposure.
  • Metal caskets resist decay for 50-100 years before rusting through. Sealed vaults prolong metal casket durability.
  • Concrete or plastic liners add decades or centuries of longevity if the outer wood coffin fails.
  • Cremation urns made of bronze or other metals hold up for hundreds of years underground before deteriorating.
  • Moisture accelerates coffin breakdown. Concrete vaults or liners help keep out water.
  • Manufactured composite or fiberglass coffins take 70-100+ years to decompose.

In most cases, full decomposition takes at least 25 years, often much longer. Family heirs visiting the grave over generations may not observe the gradual underground coffin deterioration over decades or centuries.

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