How Much Does a Cremation Niche Really Cost?

Updated

When you’re looking for the most affordable burial option, you might want to turn to cremation. As traditional funerals and burials reach all-time highs, cremation, and the associated fees to purchase items such as an urn or a niche, stay within the affordable range for most families.

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Some cremation niches can certainly set you back a bit and might even require a savings plan but many remain affordable and you can even find ways to lower your expenses.

Preparation and knowledge are the keys to choosing an affordable niche that fits your needs, wants, and cremation niche cost requirements. 

Average Price of a Cremation (Columbarium) Niche

You can find cremation niches in many cemeteries around the world. They were first popularized during the Roman Empire.

A columbarium niche, a small area where your loved one’s urn is stored, works similar to the way a person’s body goes in a funeral plot. Niches, however, are not in the ground. A cremation niche is a special place where friends and family can come and pay their respects or spend time with their loved ones in other niches. These unique locations are one of several types of cremation monuments.

Cremation niches come in several different styles and price points. Costs vary widely from state to state and country to country and also depend on the type of niche selected and placement in the columbarium.

In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,500 for a single-person niche. If you want a niche that holds two or more urns, you’ll pay around $800 to $3,000. These prices might end up higher, depending on the location and popularity of the cemetery.

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How Does the Price of a Cremation Niche Compare to Other Burial Options?

You’ll pay far less for the cost of cremation than for traditional funerals and burials. It’s still important to factor in the cost of a cremation niche if you decide to purchase one — it will add to your total cremation expenses.

A Cost Breakdown of Cremation Niches

All cremation niches fall under specific price points depending on various elements you can choose. Here are the most significant elements that add to the total cost of your cremation niche.

Size of the niche

Standard niche sizes are 9 inches by 9 inches by 9 inches. This is enough to fit one urn and one person’s remains.

You can opt for a larger size niche — even if you only plan on placing a single urn inside — but you’ll end up paying for two whole spaces. Family-sized urns remain the most expensive, but you can share the cost among several family members, making it potentially more cost-saving than purchasing a single niche.

Location of the niche

Location is everything when you pay for traditional burial plots or cremation niches. Several factors determine the location of a niche:

  • Indoor niches always end up more expensive than outdoor niches.
  • Eye-level niches in the middle of a wall will cost more than those high up or down low.
  • Indoor glass-encased niches will cost more than outdoor niches with a plaque.
  • Niches at popular cemeteries can cost up to three times more than less popular cemeteries in the same city or area.
  • Niches in highly populated places will always cost more than niches in cities with fewer residents.

When considering the placement of your niche, compare prices for spaces indoors, outdoors, at your desired cemetery, other cemeteries in your area, and cemeteries in other states if you plan to move. Cremation niches in California can easily cost around $5,000 but the same quality of niche will only set you back a few hundred in Nebraska.

When you need the niche

You’ll always get better pricing if you purchase a niche before you need it. Not only can you put the niche on a payment plan, but cemeteries will also give you better pricing since you’re buying a space ahead of time. 

If you need a niche right away because you haven’t purchased one and a loved one passed away, expect prices to go up as much as 25 percent.

Single or multi-person niche

Pricing varies widely depending on whether you want a single or multi-person niche. Most cemeteries offer niches that can hold up to four urns. The more urns in one space, the higher the price tag. 

Design of the niche

Most cemeteries offer several types of niches. Outdoor niches are most likely encased in a granite wall with a bronze plaque identifying whose remains are inside each niche. These are the least expensive design options.

Many indoor niches offer a glass front, providing families space for the urn of their loved ones in addition to mementos and photographs. These niches always cost more. 

If a cemetery hires a special designer to design its indoor niches or complies with any custom or special requests from family members, you can expect niche prices to increase.

Day of inurnment

When purchasing a niche, it’s important to recognize that the process of inurnment is included in the cost. This includes:

  • Placing the urn and mementos inside
  • Sealing the niche
  • Labor, time, and personnel involved
  • Recording the process
  • Etching and mounting the plaque

Always expect the niche price to increase if you choose to have inurnment done on a weekend as opposed to a less busy weekday.

Tips for Saving Money on a Cremation Niche

Choosing a cremation niche offers an excellent burial alternative that saves money, benefits the environment, and helps you or your family stay within a reasonable budget. Though niches are certainly more affordable, you can cut down on this cost if you’re trying to save money while giving your loved one a dignified final resting place.

Purchase a niche ahead

One of the biggest ways to save on expenses is to purchase a cremation niche well in advance. If you have to purchase a cremation niche right when it’s needed — when someone dies — you’ll find that prices can increase up to 25 percent. 

Choose a mid-week inurnment

The cost of a cremation niche often covers labor and time for workers to complete the inurnment process. If you choose to have a weekend inurnment, you might be charged extra. If you choose a less busy weekday instead, you might find that your total price reduces by around $200.

Choose an outdoor niche

One of the primary ways to save on a niche purchase is all in the location of the niche. Outdoor niches end up less ornate but they’re also less expensive.

You have the option to place a metal plaque on your loved one’s niche that contains identifying information and a few lines including name, date of birth and death, and a line or two of sentiment.

The urn will be placed into the weatherproof niche and sealed. The downside of an outdoor niche is that you won’t be able to personalize it or see the urn. On the upside, you could save several hundred on your final bill.

Choose a less favorable niche space indoors

If you want your loved one placed indoors and away from any threat of weather, you’ll need to go indoors. However, even inside, you’ll find tiers of niches with different price levels.

By choosing a less favorable location indoors, you’ll have the benefit of decorating the niche with personal items and photographs, and you’ll be able to see the urn. You may not be able to get up close to it — it could be in a higher location — but you’ll have the comfort of knowing they’re protected and you were able to stay within budget.

Add multiple family members

You can purchase a niche for a single urn, two urns, or even a family-sized space with up to four urns.

If you and several other family members want to share a niche space, you can purchase a space together and split the cost four ways. If the four-person niche you want costs $2,000, then you’ll each be responsible for $500, making the total cost to each person much more reasonable.

Choose a less popular cemetery

The more popular the cemetery, the more you’ll be charged for a cremation niche space. While it may be desirable to be inurned in a columbarium high up on a bluff at a cemetery overlooking the ocean, you’ll probably find that the price tag will reduce by half if you simply choose a less-popular cemetery inland, instead.

Wait to purchase if you plan to move

If you live in a populous location such as Southern California or New York City but plan to move to a less populated area like Texas, Idaho, or a Midwest state, consider waiting to purchase a niche until you move.

Niches will be the most expensive in populous locations. Talk to a funeral director about purchasing a niche where you end up relocating so you can visit your loved one in your new home state.

Choose a Final Resting Place

When deciding on a cremation niche, it’s important to understand why prices might increase and how to stay within budget. Take your time, shop around, and carefully choose a final resting place for your loved one that you can afford and that fits your loved one.


Sources

  1. “Mausoleum Niche Price List.” Cremation Niches, Mount Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum, 2021. mountcalvarycemetery.org/mausoleum-niches/
  2. “Pricing.” Products and Services, Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Cemeteries, 1 July 2020. catholiccemeterieschicago.org/Products_Services/Pricing
  3. “Cemetery Spaces.” Cemetery Services, Sunset Memorial Park, 2021. sunsetscottsbluff.com/price-lists
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