How much does it cost to buy a burial plot?


May 17, 2017
how much is a burial plot

A question I get asked a lot is ‘how much does it cost to buy a burial plot’ to which I usually reply ‘how much is a piece of string’. I am not meaning to be facetious or unhelpful but the cost of burial plots or burial lairs as they are known in Scotland really do vary that much.  

Along with burial plots there are other considerations too such as headstones or grave plaques, exclusive rights of burial and size of burial plot required which again muddies the water when talking about total burial costs.

So although I can’t give you a definitive figure when it comes to burial plot cost, the following information will help point you in the right direction so you can get the details that are relevant to you.

A local cemetery for local people

The cost of burial plots throughout the country varies from hundreds to thousands of pounds with as you would expect London being one of the most expensive areas. After all property costs a small fortune there so why would a burial plot be any different? You will find though that in certain areas, cemeteries charge two rates; one for residents and one for non residents, so it pays to look at burial plots for sale that are local to you as these may be cheaper.  

Council websites usually contain a wealth of information on local cemeteries so take a look online. If they don’t have specific information on burial plots for sale, they should have a contact number for you to call.

As a parishioner you are entitled to be buried at the church but the reality is that this all depends on burial plots available with space in most areas being in short supply.

Cost of burial plot or burial plots?

An important thing to think about is how many people the burial plot is for? Many burial plots can accommodate two or even three coffins so it is worth thinking through your requirements first. Are you looking at the cost of a burial plot for one, or is there a significant other or family member that may also be looking for a prime piece of land? If there are two of you, it would be worth looking at joint burial plots as this will ultimately save you money and ensure you are laid to rest together.

Pay as you go or in advance?

Some councils give you the option to reserve and pay for your burial plot in advance so you can remove the financial pressure from your family but again it does vary by region. Whether this will save you money depends on the price your council wants to charge, so just do your homework before committing yourself.

Cost aside you may feel that you want to buy a burial plot in advance to ensure there is space available for you and your loved ones so if this is the case, make sure you read the next point on the exclusive rights of burial first.

You may also wish to consider purchasing your funeral in advance with a prepaid funeral plan - this too could save your family a lot of money by doing it now well in advance.

A lease for life or not

When you buy a burial plot you are buying the ‘exclusive rights of burial’ for a number of years – usually anywhere between 25 to 100 years. This means you are effectively leasing the burial plot for a specific time; something worth considering if you are looking in advance at cemetery plots for younger family members who may not have need for some time.

Once the exclusive rights of burial or lease has expired, the family will usually be given the option to renew.

Getting it right with a headstone

In addition to doing your homework when it comes to the cost of burial plots, you should also think about grave decorations such as a gravestone or headstone as they are also known. As with the burial plot cost, headstone cost also varies greatly depending on size and material used but either way, they don’t tend to be cheap.

First it is important to check with the cemetery or churchyard where the burial plot will be to see what rules are in place for headstones for graves such as size, shape or inscription. Then you can look around to see who offers the most appropriate and best priced option, be it one of the more traditional headstones or perhaps one of the grave plaques.

For new burial plots, the ground will need to settle before grave headstones can be put in place, usually for a period of at least 6 months, so the family may want to consider grave markers as an interim measure.      

The green burial

These days you can’t talk about anything without considering what it is doing to the environment and it’s exactly the same when it comes to burial plots; so I couldn’t end without a nod to green burials.

Green burials or woodland burials are becoming an increasingly popular option but depending on your woodland burial site, they can be a more costly affair.

With woodland burial plots varying in price from around £500 to £2,000, your choice of location can be key, so it is worth comparing prices at local woodland burial sites in your area. Look at what each has to offer as most woodland burial sites offer a range of options that will carry different price tags.

Also take into consideration their requirements for a ‘green coffin’ as this may increase funeral costs; although cheaper options such as cardboard coffins are usually permissible.

Headstones are not usually allowed in most woodland burial sites however many will allow trees to be planted or the addition of wooden plaques or grave markers instead.     


Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

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