How Much Is the Average Cremation Funeral Cost?
For thousands of years across numerous cultures and religions, cremation has been the standard method of carrying out the final disposition of a deceased person.
Cremation is proving to be not only a cost-effective option for families but also an environmentally sustainable one.
The average cost of a burial in Australia was around $19,000 (including the monument and cemetery fees).
Much of the total cost is made up by cemetery fees driven upwards by the fact that land supply is rapidly shrinking.
As you might be able to appreciate, cemeteries take up a considerable amount of space, and there are a finite number of plots for purchase.
Without available land to develop more cemeteries in populated areas and the majority of plots being in use or pre-purchased, the price for the remaining properties has been increasing exponentially.
To give you an idea, prices have doubled over the past five years and can range from anywhere between $4,000 to $52,000 in Sydney.
At that price, burials are a stretch for several Australian families, and, as a result, the popularity of cremations has steadily been increasing for a fair while.
In 2015, data from the National Funeral Directors Association showed that there were more funerals than burials for the first time, at 48.5% to 45.6%, respectively.
In Australian cities, cremations now account for around 70% of all funerals. Need help in planning a funeral service? Check out Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals in Melbourne.
In this article, we'll break down everything you need to know about the total cost of a funeral and itemise the necessary expenses you should be aware of.
Cost of a Cremation Vs a Burial
The average price of a burial tends to be far more expensive than a funeral due to the land required and other additional burial expenses.
Burial Vs Cremation
One of the more significant decisions around planning a funeral is the choice between a burial or cremation.
While burials remain the traditional option, they are significantly more expensive than cremations.
For example, in Rookwood cemetery NSW, a plot (the land) in the Jewish section costs $7,500.
Each cemetery (And possibly sections within that cemetery) will have its own set of prices, so make sure you enquire directly with them.
With scarce land and rising burial costs, cremation is gaining increasing popularity among urban dwellers in Australia.
Depending on your choices and location, a funeral will cost between $2000 to $6000.
Of course, money isn't the only factor when deciding between a burial or cremation. Practical, religious, and cultural aspects all come into play.
Coffins & Caskets
Another high cost of burial is the price of a coffin or casket. Coffins are tapered at the end with a broader top, much like the shape of a human.
Caskets will be rectangular and look the same from top to bottom. In terms of price, coffins are around the $800 to $3,000 mark, while caskets are in the range of $1,000-$40,000.
Like any product, the price will vary because of the material quality and complexity of the design.
Your funeral director may not directly provide some services or options.
However, they can still easily be arranged for, with the funeral director likely to have a network of reliable providers.
If you choose any of these options, they will be charged extra 'third party cost'.
The funeral director will then coordinate and liaise with the provider to make sure everything is delivered smoothly.
Third-party options are why funeral costs can vary so much. A few extra choices can see the funeral price go to the top end of the spectrum.
Always have a budget in mind, and be sure to ask exactly what each option will cost.
In general, third-party costs will usually include:
- Venue hire (If an outside place is chosen)
- Cemetery or Cremation costs (See above)
- Clergy or Celebrant fees
- Musician or band fees
- Death notices or obituaries in newspapers
- Flower arrangements
- Catering services
- Covering funeral costs
What Is the Average Cost of a Burial?
The average cost of a burial in Australia is $19,000.
If the burial includes a final committal ceremony at the gravesite after a church or chapel service, additional funeral directors are charged.
The average price of a headstone alone is $3,500, so the cost of burial can quickly add up.
What Is the Average Cost of a Cremation?
On the other hand, the average price of a traditional burial in Australia is around $7,400.
However, a cremation can cost thousands more depending on the personalisation of the ceremony and choice of coffin.
The cost of a cremation tends to vary from company to company, but generally speaking, the process is much more cost-efficient than a burial.
This is partly because there are much fewer expenses in the process, which result in the lower cremation cost.
A quick search of other funeral blogs will reveal that the average cost of a cremation in Australia is around $4,000.
For several families, this an unrealistic cost to bear despite this still only being roughly a third of the price of burial in Australia.
Cremations Are Increasing in Popularity for several Reasons.
Firstly they are efficient and convenient.
Secondly, whatever service you opt for, you are given a wide array of memorial options to honour the person's memory.
For example, there are many options for freeing, planting or scattering the ashes and housing the ashes in a memorial urn, vessel or pendant to treasure according to the wishes of the family and the person they are honouring.
Thirdly, the increasing popularity of an environmentally friendly way to dispose of remains as people become more aware of the environmental footprint of their choices.
The Average Cost of a Traditional Cremation
Let's start with the traditional cremation. A conventional cremation (as opposed to a direct cremation) involves a service, usually at a chapel or church and crematorium chapel, followed by cremation.
According to our database of 2,000+ services, the following are the average cremation costs for a traditional cremation in Australia:
Professional Service Fee (for a single service) $3,500
Cremation Fee $900*
Transfer of the deceased $330
Death certificate $60
Cremation certificates $220
Flowers, newspaper notices, service booklets etc. $500
Average total cost of a cremation $7,420
You will notice that this total is more expensive than the costs payable to the funeral director for a burial that we calculated in our article on burial costs.
However, there is an important caveat: It is not mandatory to bury cremated remains in a cemetery, and in the event that you choose to do so, due to the minor plot size required, the right of interment is significantly cheaper.
Ultimately, this means you either have no additional cemetery fees, which can range between $4,000 – $52,000 for coffins in Sydney, or you will be looking at an average right of interment of $2,500 for cremated remains.
Likewise, interment fees for cremated remains are cheaper at an average of $500 compared to $2,000 for coffins.
So, where does that leave us?
Cost for a Traditional Cremation and Cemetery Burial
- Average funeral home professional service fee and standard third party fees: $7,420
- Average right of interment fee: $2,500
- Average interment fee: $2,000
Cost for a Traditional Cremation Without Cemetery Burial
Both of these options are cheaper than the $19,000 average cost for a burial. But can cremations be arranged for cheaper?
Absolutely. Searching for cremation prices will help you find more competitive prices. Then there's also the option of a direct cremation (otherwise known as a no service, no attendance cremation), outlined below.
The Average Cost of a Direct Cremation
A direct cremation (a non-attended cremation without a formal funeral service) is the most affordable funeral option.
The average cost of a direct cremation in Australia is $4,000. Prices remain lower than a traditional cremation or burial service because there is often no need for a chapel, celebrant, flowers, or other additions to the funeral service.
Families will often hold their celebration of life after the direct cremation has taken place to honour their loved ones.
A direct cremation is a disposition option. The body is cremated very soon after the death (usually within a couple of days), and there is no prior funeral service.
Direct cremations are the cheapest funeral options, but that doesn't mean that they don't respect the memory of the deceased. Families will often arrange a memorial service following the direct cremation to pay tribute to the deceased.
A memorial service can take place anywhere from one week to a year after the burial or cremation.
There's no formal structure, and they are usually held in a place of significance, such as the family home, park or event space in an area of worship.
What impact does this have on the costs of a traditional cremation? Ultimately, as there is no service prior to the cremation, several high costs are avoided:
- Extensive mortuary care fees
- Orders of service
- Viewing or visitation
- Multiple transportations of the body
As family and friends will not see the casket before the cremation, a simple cremation casket is used instead of a more expensive casket.
In addition to the above, families can often arrange the cremation directly with the crematorium, including the death certificate and transport costs.
While this is the cheapest option, many families still opt to engage a funeral home to help with all organisational and administrative tasks, which will still work out much more affordable than the service fee charged for a traditional cremation.
Sampling the funeral home price lists in our database, on average, the cost of a direct cremation in Australia is $2,900 all-inclusive.
However, a search for budget direct cremation providers will allow you to find options for as low as $1,500.
Understanding the Costs of a Burial or Cremation
The time immediately following the passing of a loved one is filled with difficult decisions. One of the most common considerations is whether you will organise a burial or a cremation.
While it is true that burials were once the more common, or traditional, choice, there has been growing popularity in cremations throughout Australia in recent years.
This is partly due to the slowly dwindling space available at cemeteries as the vacant plots are filled up.
Limited space has resulted in burial plots increasing in price as remaining spaces become more highly sought after.
So, it's understandable that more people choose cremation over a burial to honour their loved ones.
The burial process involves cleaning and dressing the deceased's body before being sealed in a casket or coffin.
Finally, the deceased is interred, typically below ground in a cemetery. The cost of a funeral and burial will vary depending on what you decide to organise based on the wishes of your loved one or the family.
On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 - $15,000 for a funeral and burial. This includes costs for:
- Transfer of loved ones
- Preparation for funeral
- Funeral service
- Funeral director fees
- Viewing before service
- Celebrant or clergy
- Legal documents, including the death certificate and medical certificate
- Coffin or casket
- Burial plot cost
Price of Cremation Vs Burial
In comparison, the cost of a cremation is much less than that of a burial. Depending on whether you choose to have a service, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000.
The cremation process involves transporting the deceased to your chosen crematorium in a coffin or casket.
Once your loved one's remains have been cremated, the ashes are stored in a sealed container and given to the family or funeral director, depending on the family's wishes. Let Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals help you select the type of funeral service that best fits your needs and your budget.
Why Are Coffins So Expensive?
Many people ask us: "Why are coffins so expensive?" Well, this comes down entirely to the quality of the coffin you select, including the materials used and the craftsmanship. Simplicity
Funerals offer a range of coffin options to accommodate your budget, including our economy, vega and balmoral coffins.
Besides price, another consideration when deciding on cremation vs burial is religion.
Understandably, families can be concerned with whether their religion permits cremation as this will impact their decision when deciding how to honour their loved ones.
Ultimately, this is an intensely personal decision, and we recommend speaking with members of your faith to discuss any implications.
While there is no clear answer in the Bible regarding the act of cremation, there are many interpretations both for and against the practice.
At the end of the day, the decision belongs to you and your family.
Alternatives to Burial and Cremation
There are a number of alternatives to burial and cremation should your loved one express this wish.
While some of these methods are unorthodox, there are those who prefer the non-traditionalist approach.
Some people opt for a natural burial, where the body is not prepared before or sealed in a coffin.
Others choose a green burial pod, where the remains are buried in a pod that feeds a tree.
This offers a more real gravestone that families can visit in future to pay their respects.
In a time when environmental awareness has never been higher, many people are choosing to limit their impact on the environment, both in life and in death.
Green funerals, in particular, are becoming more popular for those wishing to have the most naturalistic passing possible.
Other people choose to donate their body to science. Whether to a university or organisation, such a donation is an immensely generous act that can contribute to advances in science and medicine.
Australians spend $1.6 billion every year on funerals. Primarily, it's not because they choose elaborate funeral services, but rather because there hasn't been a more affordable option available.
The Australian Seniors Cost of Death Report highlights how 32% of seniors suffered financial hardship as a result of paying for a funeral.
This indicates that for many, the cost of dying is too high.
As a result, it also took 68% of those Australians in hardship at least six months to recover from the debt.
Traditional funerals are not only expensive, but they're also outdated.
While family and religious traditions are still important to some people, Australians move away from tradition towards low-cost funeral options.
We're holding more personalised farewells that celebrate our loved ones in ways that honour a life well-lived rather than formal funeral services.
Funeral restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic forced many families and friends to reconsider their options to farewell someone, they love.
As a result, many Australians have realised they don't need to spend $15,000 to $19,000 on a traditional funeral service and potentially go into debt paying it off if that's not what they or their family want. Looking for Melbourne Funeral Services? Look no further, Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals is here.
Traditionally, funeral options have been limited in Australia for decades, but the industry is changing to meet shifting trends.