Are cremation funerals cheaper than burial funerals?


Apr 26, 2017
Are cremation funerals cheaper than burial funerals?

A choice all of us will need to make in our lives whether it is for ourselves or those we care about is whether we should opt for a cremation funeral or a burial funeral. As a nation, Cremation funerals are the firm favourite accounting approximately for some 80% of funeral services; probably attributed to the perceived ease and cost as burials do tend to be more expensive.

For some the choice is dictated by religion or family tradition which costs aside can make for an easier decision. Others would if the option arose choose a bin bag at the bottom of the garden which could end up being an even costlier affair given what it would do to the house price when it came to resale, with the property including a permanent albeit silent resident!

But for those who have not thought about the prospect or are sitting on the fence when it comes to choosing the best funeral service, here are some pointers on both that may help.

Cremation Funeral Services

In terms of arrangements and cost, for most cremation funerals are the more straightforward option. You just need the necessary documentation which is provided once the death has been registered and the funeral director will help make arrangements with the local crematorium at a time to suit the family.

In terms of expense, the average cost of cremation funerals as reported by *Sunlife Direct in 2016 was £3,437 but of course this will vary throughout the UK .

The service can usually be held at the crematorium, tailored to the requirements of the deceased and their family, be it non religious or religious. A church service prior to the cremation service can be arranged prior to the crematorium for the latter.  

The service can also be personalised through choice of music, readings or poetry.

Once the service is over the ashes can be returned to the family to be kept, buried or scattered so it may be worth thinking about this in advance if you are planning your own funeral arrangements and discussing it with your friends and family.  

The Alternative Cremation

For those looking for the most simple of cremation funerals, direct cremation is now available costing around £1,500. Direct cremations are when the deceased is taken by the funeral director to the crematorium for cremation with no service and no one in attendance. It is purely a relatively cheap and simple way of disposing of the body, so not appropriate for the majority who want a funeral service; therefore it is important to speak to the family before choosing this option.

Burial Funeral Services

A burial funeral can be relatively straightforward if a plot is already in place but in general does tend to cost more. Average burial costs last year were £4,356* but again depending on location, the variance is much greater than for cremation. For example Londoners could be looking at a hefty bill of around £6,796* whereas in comparison, those in Northern Ireland get off lightly with average fees of £3,370*.

So the burial plot is something that needs to be considered and investigated; you can usually get a wealth of information simply by looking at your local council’s website. In addition to the cost of the plot, you should also look to see how long the lease or ‘exclusive right of burial’ is as the purchase of a grave does not mean you own it forever.

It is also worth looking into joint plots if would like a family member to be buried with you as this is usually cheaper than arranging two separate burial plots.

In addition to the plot price, there are usually additional costs for the opening and closing of the grave, the actual interment and sometimes the upkeep of the plot. Again all this information should be made available for you if you are looking to put funds in place or thinking of buying a prepaid funeral plan.   

The New Burial

In our new eco world green funerals are becoming more popular but alas as often is the case with eco friendly options; these can prove a costly affair. Woodland burial sites are popping up all over the country and prices vary so it is worth looking around. Your choice of coffin will also be restricted depending on your chosen burial sites requirements so ensure you read the small print.

Whilst headstones are usually a no no for most woodland burial sites, your family may have the option to plant a tree or add a wooden plaque.

A bit of both

Of course if you prefer the ease of a cremation funeral but like the idea of having somewhere a little more formal for your family to visit, you can opt to have your ashes buried. This can either be at your local crematorium, cemetery or burial site; again information on plot prices for the burial of ashes will be available at your chosen place.

So you now know that for most, cremation funerals are cheaper than burial funerals, so if budget is of concern, this may help you with your final choice. Given the costs and also for burials in some cases the restriction of available plots, I’m sure you will agree it is something worth thinking about and discussing with your family so they will know your wishes when the time comes or you may wish to consider a cremation funeral plan to help feeze these costs at today's prices.

You may wish to consider a prepaid cremation funeral plan

To help your family pay for your funeral costs.


Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

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