The average cost of a burial funeral in Australia has been steadily increasing over the past 10 years and has now reached a level where many families feel they need to make smart decisions to keep expenses under control and do proper research to avoid surprises down the track. In this article, we’ll breakdown everything you need to know about the full cost of a burial and itemise the key expenses you should be aware of. (Note: the costs set out in this article have been calculated based on the averages of the 2,000+ prices for funeral services we have listed on our website.)
For more general information on planning a burial, you may find our guide to burials a useful starting point. For information about the cemeteries in your city with burial plots available for sale, see our city guides:
- Sydney Cemeteries – Complete Guide
- Melbourne Cemeteries – Complete Guide
- Brisbane Cemeteries – Complete Guide
- Adelaide Cemeteries – Complete Guide
- Perth Cemeteries – Complete Guide
The initial estimate
If you have called a funeral director for a burial quote, you probably received an extremely broad, ballpark estimate – something in the vicinity of $6,000 – $8,000. It’s important to understand what this does and doesn’t include. Generally speaking, this figure only covers the costs that will be payable to the funeral director and doesn’t include two other key expenses which are necessary to complete the burial and add significantly to the final cost: the headstone cost and cemetery fees.
Before we break down each of these components separately, it’s worthwhile to have a quick look at the particular nature of the costs paid to the funeral director and what they cover.
Costs paid to the funeral director
There are three main categories of costs paid to funeral directors for services:
- Expenses for services which fall under a funeral director’s “professional services fee”
- Expenses for “additional services”
- Expenses for payment of “third party fees”
What is the “professional services fee”? Funeral directors break down their professional services fee differently, but basically a funeral director’s professional services fee includes the things necessary for arranging and carrying out the funeral, such as meeting with the family, transfer of the deceased, mortuary care, making arrangements for newspaper notices and registration of death, and liaising with the venue, celebrant, florist and other third parties.
What are “additional services”? Additional services are services that are not absolutely necessarily to conduct a funeral (but are often requested by families) and can include things such as a viewing or wake and funeral cars to transport the family on the day of the funeral.
What are “third party fees”? Typical third party fees include clergy or celebrant fees, musician fees, venue hire fees, floral tributes, newspaper notices and catering.
For a more in depth look at funeral expenses and how they are structured, see our guide to funeral costs.
Calculating the average funeral cost: 3 key components
Now that we understand the key costs paid to funeral directors, we can look at the average pricing of these items in more detail along with the two other significant costs mentioned above: headstone cost and cemetery fees.
(1) Funeral director costs
|Funeral director’s professional services fee for a graveside funeral||$3,500|
|Casket or coffin||$1,500|
|Transfer of the deceased||$330|
|Flowers, newspaper notices, service booklets etc||$500|
|Average total funeral director costs||$6,500|
For more information on how much a casket and coffin will cost you, see our article on coffin prices.
(2) Headstone cost
The cost of burial monuments can vary greatly depending on your preferences. Broadly speaking, the variables are the type of material (sandstone, bronze, granite, marble), the choice between a single or double monument, and finally the style, ranging from simple gravemarkers and headstones to full upright monuments.
Below is a rough guide to burial headstone and monument costs:
|Simple grave marker||$750 – 2,500|
|Headstone||$2,500 – 4,000|
|Single monument||$5,500 – $7,500|
|Double monument||$8,000 – $12,000|
One thing you should also note is that while your funeral director can help you arrange the monument, it’s possible that this may result in a higher cost as often the funeral director will have a commission agreement in place with the monumental mason, and in order to cover the additional commission cost the monumental mason will increase their fees. The effect of this is that the additional commission cost ultimately gets passed back to you.
(3) Cemetery fees
When it comes to cemetery fees, the terminology can be a little confusing. There are two main fees: (1) the right of interment; and (2) the interment fee.
What is a “right of interment”? A right of interment is the right to be buried on the relevant land. When customers purchase a burial plot from a cemetery, they are not purchasing the land but rather a right to be buried (or interred) on that land.
What is an “interment fee”? An interment fee is the fee for opening and closing the grave (and also includes things like administration and maintenance).
The cost of purchasing a cemetery plot (or right of interment) has increased rapidly over the past 10 years as the direct result of shrinking land supply. To give you an idea of the growth rate of prices, the cost of most plots in Sydney have doubled in price over the past 5 years. Basic plot prices usually start at around $4,000 but can increase quickly depending on the cemetery and location within the cemetery. For example, plots in Waverley Cemetery start at $21,200 for a basic lawn grave and go up to $52,000.
While not quite as expensive, interment fees are material as well, ranging between $1,500 to $3,000.
Finally, keep in mind that almost all cemeteries in Australia will also require the installation of a burial vault or grave liner (which helps to prevent the soil around the grave from collapsing over time). Grave liners typically cost between $500 – $1,000.
For more information on burial plots and associated cemetery fees, see our Guide to Burial Plots in Australia.
What is the average cost of a funeral in Australia?
Let’s put all of this together:
|Average funeral home professional service fee and standard third party fees||$6,500|
|Average headstone cost||$3,500|
|Average right of interment fee||$6,000|
|Average interment fee||$2,000|
|Average total cost of a burial||$19,000|
For more information on average prices in each of the capital cities and surrounding areas, see our city guides:
- Funeral Directors Sydney
- Funeral Directors Melbourne
- Funeral Directors Brisbane
- Funeral Directors Adelaide
- Funeral Directors Perth
An average total burial cost of $19,000 is significant when you consider that when people have their first conversation with a funeral director the “cost” of a burial is often estimated in the $6,000 – $8,000 range. For more information on payment options, see our Guide to Funeral Loans.
The unfortunate fact is that at a cost of $19,000, a burial is stretch for many Australian families. It also explains why there has been a rapidly growing trend towards cremation, which can work out to be significantly more cost-effective. For more information, see our article on the average cost of a cremation in Australia. A green funeral can also be a more cost-effective option for families who are set on a burial.
If you don’t have $19,000, can you arrange a cheaper funeral? Absolutely. The prices outlined in this post are simply the average. There are more competitive prices out there. The best place to start would be right here on Gathered Here.
See the full picture and make fully informed decisions. Move forward in the certainty that your loved one’s memory will be looked after. Funeral Homes are Gathered Here.