A rapidly aging population combined with increasing urban density is creating a shortage of space for burial plots in cities across North America and around the world. Not only does this drive up the cost of prime land for final resting places, it may force loved-ones to travel away from home to bury their family member; something that may not sit well with remaining spouses or children.
Although many more people are choosing cremation and interment in a space-saving niche rather than casket burial, elderly adults are still more likely to choose traditional burial. With so many baby boomers bound to take up the remaining available plots in cities, urban millennials will be the generation faced with finding alternatives when their time comes.
Even military cemeteries are running out of space for their dead, including Arlington National Cemetery where maximum capacity is expected to be reached by 2041. Veterans of recent conflicts may not have the option to be interred at Arlington if they live to the average life expectancy of 78.8 years.
On average, a burial plot in an American city ranges in cost between $7K and $10K but in densely populated communities, a single plot can run as high as $18K, according to the funeral home comparison website, Parting.
Some cemeteries are making room where they can and buying extra land if possible but once all the baby boomers are laid to rest, there may be big changes in urban burial practices including natural burials without the use of caskets and embalming, cremation and plot sharing.
Could buying burial plots be a good investment? In London, England, a “burial crisis” has investment companies promising a 40 per cent return in just two years on prime cemetery plots but buyer beware, this type of unregulated investment may be too good to true.