Rising land costs and the future implications for cemeteries

August 28, 2009
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imageThis guest post comes from Jim Brasfield, Memphis Real Estate Examiner.

There is a saying about cemteries that “everyone is just dying to get in”. This is, unfortunately, true. With increasing land values and scarcity of available land in some metropolitan areas there may come a time when cemeteries must resort to other means of interring the deceased. Even now many cemeteries offer the option of burying a loved one atop the remains of a previously departed relative.

There is of course the option of cremation, which takes up no land and offers the option to dispose of our loved ones ashes in areas that have special meaning to them or their survivors. To many this is an excellent choice, and far less expensive. For some, however, religious beliefs may prohibit this means of shuffling off this mortal coil. For those we must respect their decisions and insure that there will always be a solution that does not conflict with their belief system.

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With 9 billion people on the planet and none of them immortal (at least that I’ve met) there will be a need for lots of space for future cemeteries. Is the land there? Yes. At present no one need be overly concerned about finding Grandma a final resting place. They may have to take out a second mortgage to afford a plot at some point, but we are far from exhausting available land. It is just that the land keeps getting pricier and so do burial plots. A time may come when many cemeteries are no longer within financial reach of the majority.

Another problem with cemeteries is the fact that it is often very difficult and expensive to obtain the use of land that has been a cemetery for other purposes. Notifying the relatives of those interred there and making arrangements for them being relocated can prove very hard, especially in older cemeteries where many of those interred may no longer be traceable to any surving relatives. It also seems a bit callous to many that Aunt Fannie might have to be dug up and moved to make way for a condo develoment.

The best advice for those wanting to be buried is to prepare well in advance with a pre-planned funeral in which a plot is selected and a price locked in with a reputable funeral home. As for me, well, I’ll leave the land for condos and burger joints. I plan to make an ash of myself.

About Jim

Jim has lived in the Memphis area for 37 years. He has worked as head of design for Realty Investments, Inc.; designed for Ralph Jones Design; and is currently employed by Lavelle Walker Residential Design. He has also taught, obtained a real estate license, and is a certified Gestalt therapist.

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