One of the things we often talk about on this blog is how funeral costs vary depending on region. As is the case with almost any cost-of-living differences between large cities and smaller towns, or even state to state, burials and cremations are marked up differently. That’s because in addition to things like shipping costs, local business have to take into consideration things like state and city taxes, business licenses, operation costs, general overhead, and personnel.
How Expensive is Cremation?
Cremation costs are almost always less than traditional burial. Because you don’t need to purchase a plot of land (unless you’re burying the urn), and because an elaborate casket and body preservation techniques aren’t required, you can cut thousands of dollars off the total price tag of a funeral.
On average, a cremation can vary anywhere from $500 (for a basic, direct cremation) to up to $10,000 (including the full funeral service). Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t very helpful for the average consumer, especially if you’re pre-planning by making advance financial arrangements.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to look locally for a more accurate estimate.
How to Price a Cremation
- Decide what you want ahead of time. There are many different types of cremations. You can get a direct cremation with a minimal fuss or opt for a more ornate affair. You can be cremated in a simple cardboard box or a casket. You can have the ashes placed in an urn to be kept above ground, buried, or placed in a mausoleum. Additionally, things like transportation of the body, the scope of the funeral, and other funeral planning details will come into play. Make a list of what you want so that you can ask for specific prices.
- Contact area funeral home and cremation providers for prices—and plan on calling more than one. Funeral homes are required to supply you with a Funeral List, which outlines the costs associated with each aspect of the cremation process at their facility. Having these numbers on hand can help you compare prices and determine if there is anything you want to add or skip.
- Look online for cremation alternatives. There are cremation societies that offer low-cost cremation services and handle body transportation for you. You might also come across ideas that never occurred to you before, including eco-friendly urns or even having the ashes of a loved one transformed into jewelry. Researching your options—and their costs—is worth the extra time.
- Invite someone to accompany you if you are visiting funeral home facilities. Many times, you’ll want to see the goods and services up front, and stopping by funeral homes is an ideal way to get a feel for things. Try not to do this kind of personalized planning alone. Having a friend on hand who doesn’t feel the same emotional turmoil as you can help you make more level-headed decisions.
As more consumers become aware of their rights regarding funeral homes and crematoriums, cremation costs are likely to be more competitive and more reasonable—and your level of comfort asking questions will increase. The most important thing you can do to find out cremation costs in your area is to be sure and get a comprehensive list of all services (including small fees for things like death certificate copies) and let providers know that you’re shopping around for the best local deal.