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The Cost of Cremation vs Burial

Why are more and more people choosing cremation over burial during end-of-life preparations? There’s a lot to unpack in that question: For example, cremation offers more ways to be memorialized, there’s the opportunity for family members to each receive an urn, it’s increasingly embraced by different religions, and its history is just as storied as burial. But when you choose between burial or cremation, you’d be remiss not to consider the cost. As it turns out, cremation is a far more financially viable option for many families.

A Breakdown of the Costs
Before we analyze the difference in costs between cremation and burial, it’s important to remember that within both traditions there is a range of options that will all influence the final dollar amount. The simplest possible formal burial could potentially cost more than an extravagant cremation.

According to NBC News, the average cost of a burial, including a typical casket, is around $6,500. If you include a burial vault, that cost can easily top $7,500 and caskets can range greatly. The average cost of a cremation is less than a quarter of that amount. Additionally, the memorial service you choose can also affect the cost. Depending on whether you choose to inter the cremated remains in a columbarium or vault, opt for a simple, basic urn, or choose something else, like the Neptune Memorial Reef, you’re looking at several different cost tiers.

Additional Funeral Expenses
Remember, cremation and burial costs also come along with separate related costs. According to Angie’s List, funeral costs for both burial and cremation might include transferring the deceased to a funeral home, printed memorial materials like cards or pamphlets, use of the facility and staff, the hearse, and basic service fees. The latter cost is typically the highest, running just shy of $2,000. Each of the other items often range from $150 to $800.

However, for burial, more costs are involved than you might initially think. We’ve covered the casket and burial vault, but think about the headstone – something that can easily run $1,500. Opening and closing fees cost an additional $1,200 and the grave plot itself can reach $1,000 or more.

Of course, these costs just cover the most traditional routes – one of the great things about cremation, in particular, is how creative you can be with your choice of memorial services. Maybe you choose to have cremated remains scattered in an exotic area, interred in a beautiful vault, or distributed to friends and family members in elegant urns. Those choices come with a range of financial obligations, but the beauty is that the choice is yours. With burial, your options can be more restricted and tend to be more expensive.