Funeral Costs in Australia: Top 7 Most Expensive Places To Die
Funeral Costs And Top 7 Most Expensive Places To Die In Australia. Photo KnowInsiders

While we can all rest easy knowing our money woes will be over once we’re dead, funerals are a costly event that often leave family and loved ones baring the brunt of the stress.

Now it’s been revealed that where you die can also affect the financial burden we leave behind, with the cost of funerals varying dramatically across Australia.

How much does it cost for a funeral in Australia in 2022?

On average, the majority of funerals in Australia can cost anywhere between $4000 for a simple cremation and $15000 for an elaborate event with flowers, casket and a noteworthy burial to match. However, the median cost of a funeral in Australia is $19000. The average cost of a funeral in Brisbane is reported to be $7505.

Funeral expenses generally cover several individual items including the price of a coffin, transportation of the deceased, obtaining a death certificate, burial/cremation costs and permits, funeral director fees and additional costs such as obituaries and flowers.

Most funeral services in Australia offer preselected packages which make it difficult to know how much money you are spending on each item and without providing the opportunity to leave out items that are not preferred. What’s worse, is that some funeral homes in the industry are renowned for charging exorbitant fees without any transparency as to what they are accounting for.

Given that most people making funeral arrangements and decisions are at a particularly vulnerable state and are not often in rational thinking mode, they can be taken advantage of when it comes to excessive funeral costs.

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
Grave liner $1,000
Average total cost of a burial $19,000

What is the average cost of a cremation vs burial?

The average cost of a burial tends to be far more expensive than a cremation due to the land required and other additional burial expenses.

WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF A BURIAL?

The average cost of a burial in Australia is $19,000 according to funeral price comparison website gatheredhere.com.au. If the burial includes a final committal ceremony at the gravesite after a church or chapel service, there are additional funeral director’s fees. The average price of a headstone alone is $3,500, so the cost of a burial can quickly add up.

WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF A CREMATION?

On the other hand, the average price of a traditional cremation in Australia is around $7,400 according to Gathered Here. However, a cremation can cost thousands more depending on the personalisation of the ceremony and choice of coffin.

WHAT IS 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, according to finder.com.au. 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 own celebration of life after the direct cremation has taken place, to honour their loved one.

In contrast, *the national average cost of an at-need direct cremation with Bare is around $2,100. Bare saves Australian families thousands by only providing the things they actually want in a funeral. To get a free quote, visit the Bare website.

To take advantage of further savings, a Bare cremation can even be prepaid to avoid price increases over the years. A prepaid funeral also takes the future stress off your family later on.

Calculating the average funeral cost: 3 key components

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Photo Conversation

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

Item Cost
Funeral director’s professional services fee for a graveside funeral $3,500
Casket or coffin $1,500
Transfer of the deceased $330
Viewing $280
Hearse Included
Celebrant $330
Death certificate $60
Flowers, newspaper notices, service booklets etc $500
Average total funeral director costs $6,500

(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

(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.

How to save on rent if you can't move home

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Photo Immihelp

Skip the extras. Only pay for the essentials. There's no need to fork out extra for embalming, flowers, funeral cars and limousines or funeral notices.

Opt for cremation. Unless your loved one has made a specific request, try and opt for a cremation if possible. The price difference between cremations and coffins can range from $300 for a simple cremation capsule to an eye-watering $10,000 for a premium coffin.

Hold the wake at home. If possible, consider hosting the wake at a friend or relative's place or your own house, rather than paying to book out a venue. This can save you a few hundred dollars, if not more. Keep the catering simple too.

Low-cost funerals

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 simply too high.

As a result, it also took 68% of those Australians in hardship at least six months to recover from the debt.

How to keep funeral costs to a minimum

Shopping around and using comparison websites are two of the best ways to ensure your money is being well spent and that you’re avoiding funeral providers with a bad name.

For those looking to cut costs, a cremation rather than a burial is the best option. A direct cremation, where no service is involved, is usually the cheapest option of all and allows you to plan a private memorial without having to pay for venue hire or for someone to run the service. Coffin rental may also be a good option to reduce costs as the cremation itself only requires the use of a cardboard ‘cremation capsule’.

For those who want to be buried, shopping around for a coffin is advised as prices vary and some providers have been accused of marking up the price of coffins to subsidise less profitable parts of the funeral business. You may be able to order a coffin online (if time isn’t of the essence), or even make your own — however keep in mind that some funeral homes may charge or even refuse a coffin they did not provide themselves.

Additionally, finding ways to do things yourself will help reduce costs. Consider asking guests to bring flowers, or holding the ceremony in the backyard rather than a chapel. Taking on more of the planning will help you keep costs to a minimum, while still arranging a respectful send-off.

Top 7 Most Expensive Places To Die In Australia

Funeral Costs in Australia: Top 7 Most Expensive Places To Die
Photo KnowInsiders

1 Perth $8,261

2 Hobart $7,588

3 Melbourne $7,581

4 Canberra $7,032

5 Adelaide $6,993

6 Sydney $6,976

7 Brisbane $6,728

Finder analysed the cost of burials and cremations from major funeral providers in each capital city and found that Perth came out on top as the most expensive place to die, with the average funeral here costing $8,261.

Hobart ranked as the second most expensive city to hold a funeral on average, at $7,588, followed closely by Melbourne ($7,581).

On the other hand, Brisbane emerged as the cheapest city to die in, with the average funeral service costing around $6,728 – that's $1,533 less than what you'd pay in Perth for a similar service.

Kate Browne, personal finance specialist at Finder, said that the cost of a funeral can come as a nasty shock.

"Unfortunately, many people don't realise how expensive funerals can be until it's time to foot the bill.

"A basic funeral can easily set you back more than $5,000, while more elaborate options can be closer to $15,000.

Finder's research found that a burial service alone can cost upwards of $5,070, depending on the cemetery and grave type.

You can also be charged up to an additional $2,909 if your loved one passes away interstate and needs to be repatriated.

Funeral insurance in Australia

Funeral insurance can cost you a lot more than the benefit your family will receive. And if you stop making repayments, you lose what you've already paid.

With this insurance you’re not saving for funeral costs, but buying insurance to meet those costs in the future. You have to keep paying your premiums until you die or you will no longer be covered. In the end, the premiums may cost more than the funeral itself.

Consider your other options before taking out this type of insurance.

Prepaid funeral plans in Australia

Prepaid funerals let you choose and pay for your funeral in advance through your local funeral director.

Prepaid funeral plans can be cheaper than funeral insurance or funeral bonds. The cost of the funeral is calculated at today’s prices and doesn’t increase over time. You can pay in full or make a deposit and pay the rest off with regular payments.

Make sure you shop around, as different funeral directors offer different packages. Get a breakdown of all the costs so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Funeral bonds

Funeral bonds are another way of saving for funeral expenses. You pay a deposit then make regular payments over time, and your money grows in value with interest. The money can only be used for your funeral. You can't take it out earlier.

Many funeral bonds let you choose a funeral director. Or, you can let your family choose one at the time of your death. You can buy a funeral bond from a funeral director, a friendly society or a life insurer. They are not widely advertised, so you will need to ask specifically for a funeral bond.

What happens if I can’t afford a funeral?

If a loved one has passed and you can’t cover the cost of the funeral, there is assistance available. If both you and your partner were receiving a Centrelink payment, such as the pension or income support for 12 months prior to their death, you may be eligible for a bereavement payment, paid in a lump sum for up to 14 weeks after the death.

Some banks will allow families to access the deceased’s money to pay for a funeral. Banks can release funds from the estate to pay for funeral costs, even if the bank account is frozen. This can be paid to the executor or administrator acting for the estate, or the person who organised or paid for the funeral with their own money. They just need to provide the bank with an invoice or receipt for the funeral service.

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