Burial plots—also referred to as funeral plots or graves—are where your body is laid to rest. And much like meticulously searching for a new house, you’ll want to be well informed when you pick out the burial plot that serves as your final resting place.
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A desirable burial plot comes down to location. Do you want to be buried where you live now, or where you grew up? Do you want to be buried alone, with a partner, with your family, or with a beloved pet? Do you plan to have your body buried when you pass on, or would you prefer to be cremated and have your ashes interred?
But, much like houses, the decision doesn’t solely rely on location—cost plays a huge role, too. It’ll depend on the cemetery and if the surrounding area is rural or urban. We’ll break down the different types of burial plots, and what you can expect to pay for them. And, we’ll also offer some tips on how to know if you’re getting the best price for your plot.
The kind of costs you’ll incur will vary depending on what type of plot you’re interested in getting.
For a single plot
The most common type of plot in cemeteries is a single plot. A single plot contains the remains of one person in a single casket. A burial plot can run anywhere between $200 and $2,000 in a public cemetery, and between $2,000 and $5,000 in a private cemetery.
For a family plot
Family plots are used for multiple people in the same family. You can customize the amount of space according to your needs.
If you have a family plot, you may already have burial space reserved and paid for thanks to a forward-thinking grandparent. If you don’t have a family plot but would like to set one up, you can usually negotiate a large discount for reserving several plots at once.
For a companion plot
A companion plot consists of two plots that are sold together, usually for a couple. A traditional companion plot comprises two plots side-by-side. Alternatively, they can be a single plot where the caskets are buried on top of one another.
The latter is also often referred to as a double-depth plot. Double-depth plots are often lower in price than side-by-side companion plots because they have a smaller footprint.
Prices on companion plots vary depending on your location. However, with side by side plots, you can generally expect to pay full price for each plot, possibly with a small discount. Double-depth plots, on the other hand, will fall about halfway between the cost for single burials and companion burials.
For cremated remains
There are several different options for burying ashes. If your family has a plot for burial, but you’d prefer to be cremated, your ashes may be interred in a single plot within the family plot.
Some cemeteries even allow for multiple urns of ashes to be buried in a single plot, so if the family plot is running out of room, cremation can conserve space.
If you decide you’d like to be cremated but have your ashes buried, that cost is typically $350 to $500 in public cemeteries and $1,000 to $2,500 in private cemeteries.
For a pet plot
Many people consider pets to be a part of their family. So it can be upsetting to realize that you will be separated from your pets in death.
In several states, including Georgia, Virginia, Oregon, and Washington, it’s against the law to bury a pet’s remains in human cemeteries. In the states that do allow for burials of pets in human ceremonies, it’s often limited to cremated remains.
Others may opt to have their ashes interred at the pet cemeteries where their furry friends have been laid to rest, but pet cemeteries aren’t subject to the same rules and regulations as human cemeteries. They aren’t protected in perpetuity the way human remains are, so they could be relocated at any time.
In the meantime, pet cemeteries are the best place to bury your pets if you’re not able to bury them at your home. A pet burial plot typically costs $400 to $600.
That cost usually includes an already dug grave. For additional fees, you can get 733 and a tombstone, but these are pricey add-ons. A basic casket for a pet starts around $550, and a tombstone can run anywhere from $150 to $1,000, depending on materials and size.
Burial plots also come with other hidden costs. A big one is the burial vault, which reinforces the grave and protects the casket from the weight of the soil. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average price of a vault is $1,395.
Most cemeteries charge interment fees to compensate for the labor it takes to open and close the grave, lay down sod, and prepare paperwork. Interment fees can run from $350 to $1,000 in a public cemetery and $600 to $3,000 in a private cemetery.
You might also have to take care of headstones, including cleaning the headstones and other regular maintenance.
You may get sticker shock while shopping for a burial plot. Here’s how to avoid paying more than you should.
1. Purchase plots in bulk
The more plots you purchase at one time, the greater the discount. If you don’t already have a family plot established somewhere, it’s worth talking to your family to see if they’re interested in setting up a family plot and splitting the costs evenly.
2. Buy everything ahead of time
Burial plots aren’t immune from inflation. Every year, industries see rising costs, and the funeral industry is no exception. If you know where you want to be buried, make a deposit and lock in the current price.
Many funeral homes will allow you to prepay for burial plots on a payment plan. If you do this, not only will you lock in a low price, you can cover the cost of the plot, so your next-of-kin doesn’t have to worry about finding the funds after your death.
4. Opt for a natural burial
Many people have begun exploring green burial options out of a desire to protect the planet. But, green burials are also extremely cost-effective. While plots can cost between $1,000 and $4,000, the fees associated with that largely go into a fund to maintain the green cemetery in perpetuity.
You also save money in other ways. Natural, biodegradable caskets cost a fraction of what traditional caskets cost. Or, you could always opt to be wrapped in a burial shroud.
In a natural burial, bodies are not embalmed, as the chemicals used in embalming can harm the planet. Skipping embalming can help you save upwards of $725. You also don’t have to pay for an expensive burial vault.
4. Comparison shop
A lot of people get overwhelmed with the stress of planning a funeral. But if you take the time to call in or stop by a few shops, you can choose the lowest-cost option. And, know that you don't have to buy everything directly from the funeral home. Many people opt to buy headstones and other funeral items, like caskets, online.
This could save you hundreds of dollars, and give you peace of mind.
Weighing the Costs of Burial Plots
Navigating the processes of getting a burial plot can be a challenge, especially when you’re in mourning. Like most things related to end-of-life planning, it’s easier to manage the stress and cost if you plan ahead.
- “Statistics.” nfda.org, National Funeral Directors Association, July 18, 2019, www.nfda.org/news/statistics