What is a private cemetary's business model?

How do they even meet operating costs let alone turn a profit thru one-time-only sales of plots which are then expected to be maintained, well, forever? What happens when they enivitably run out of space for new graves?

Don’t know about the situation where you are, but at our local cemetery, you don’t get your plot forever; IIRC, it’s 25 years with one renewal option for another 25 years.
If you break down the operational costs for the entire cemetary with its thousands of graves to the single plot, I think a one-time payment plus interest revenues for 25 years (remember, you pay in advance) could indeed cover the expenses and yield some profit. Typically, cemeteries aren’t located in the most expensive neighborhoods, so the original costs for purchasing the are aren’t going to be that high. And the operator can also make profit offering additional services, such as maintenance of the graves, etc.

What happens after the 25 years? Are the remains exhumed and reinterred in a massed plot or something?

You mean you get only a single renewal option?

This is a fascinating question. Obviously not every cemetary operates this way, as their are plenty of cemetaries with people who died before 1955.

But what does exactly happen when they run out of room? Do the owners just abandon the place?

I can see someone buying a plot of land, selling graves for 30 years, and making a living off of it, until he runs out of room. Then why not just abandon it and buy another plot of land?

I’m on the Vestry of my church and we’ve been discussing raising the cost of our cemetary plots. In preparation, I had to do some research on the “going rate” for plots in our area (Richmond, VA). The average price at a private, non-church cemetary was $2,000 per plot (each plot is approximately 6’ x 8’ and has room for two graves).

At $2,000 for 48 square feet of space, it doesn’t take many sales to make a very good living, even when you factor in the cost of grass cutting, grave digging, etc.

I’m pretty sure he meant you can purchase it while you’re alive, but if you don’t use the plot within 25 years you may have to renew. I don’t know how true this is, however.

There is a very popular cemetary in my area. People are dying to get in there. I hear they are making a killing. :wink:

The land cost for a single cemetary plot is low, as it isn’t large. The rest beyond land cost and profit goes to a perpetual care fund. Interest on which is used for maintenance.

In the US (unique amongst the countries I know of) you buy a plot and own it for freakin’ ever. A portion of the purchase price is set away for perpetual care. (State laws now require certain minimal fiscal standards are met.)

Remarkably, some companies buy elderly full-up cemeteries. They bet they can manage them to some reasonable standard and still make money off the escrow.

("So, what do you do for a living? "
“I buy old cemeteries.”

In Mexico there’s a municipal cemetary system. When you die, your remains can stay there for five years while your survivors scrape up the money for your permanent spot. After five years, someone best pick you up. I don’t know if anyone that’s not poor takes advantage of this service.

No, he means what he says.


](http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1491583,00.html)In the US, for any Germans and Austrians listening, exhuming a body for anything except a criminal investigation (to determine cause of death) or other true necessity is unthinkable. And re-using a plot is simply not done.

Correct. In fact I’m shocked they do this in Germany and Austria.

Seeing that Schnitte is in Bavaria, I believe he does mean that the remains are exhumed and the plot is “recycled,” although I will guess that the time limits and some other details might vary depending on the cemetery. My mother is from Bavaria, and I remember well the tussle she had with one of her brothers over the disposition of my grandparents’ burial plot. IIRC my uncle wanted let my grandparents’ tenure “lapse” and keep the plot reserved for himself, whereas my mother wanted the grave undisturbed for as long as possible (mom won out in the end).

It struck me as rather bizarre, but upon reflection it’s obvious that Germany doesn’t have the room to maintain large cemeteries for hundreds of years, in the same way the U.S. can.

Wait a second here. What is the population density of Germany? Is the population density of Germany much greater than every US state? I find it hard to believe land is that scarce in Germany.

I’m pretty sure it’s the same in a lot of other places too; the usual term in the UK is 99 years, after which the remains may be moved to another site. This happens fairly routinely if the land is to be deconsecrated and reused.

See what I get for browsing elsewhere while waiting for preview to load - a bunch of people beat me to the punch.

Yes, it is surprising to Americans to hear that anyone else doesn’t leave a grave untouched for perpetuity, but think about it - Europe has been fully occupied by graveyard-producing cultures for centuries longer than the U.S. has, and collectively has approximately the same land area. For how long do you think a cemetery could stay untouched before population pressures overcame the desire to leave buried folks in one place?

Also the culture of routing embalming and hermetically sealing in stainless steel coffins inside concrete vaults to last eternally etc is pretty much nonexistent here.

I was actually saying that after 25 years (plus maybe another 25 or whatever the renewal period is) the plot is assigned to someone else. What they do with the remains of the old tenant I don’t know, and frankly I don’t want to know, but I suspect that the few bones that are left are brought to some mass grave. It’s not a very tasteful topic, I agree.
I guess you can keep your grave much longer if it’s a family site: Grandpa was buried there, then 30 years later daddy came in, and someday it will be your turn. Every new burial might extend the lease for another term, so you do indeed find graves that are many decades old on German cemeteries, but they’re still in use.

And yes, it’s a question of population density. Many Germans (including me) who comes to the U.S. for the first time is astonished by the way how generous Americans are in respect to land usage; and I suppose many Americans who come here to Central Europe are astonished by how tight everything is built. It’s really such that, when you’re driving across the country, you’ve hardly left a town before entering the next one.
In another thread, tschild gave a comparison similar to this: Germany has an area of 357,000 km² (about 146,000 sq miles), about 2.3 times the area of Georgia with its 154,000 km², and a population of about 82 million, 10.8 times the population of Georgia (7.6 million). Overall, Germany has a population density of 230 per km², or about 90 per sq mile; the U.S. has 27 per km², or 10.5 per sq mile.

I apologize. I hadn’t noticed his location.

Oddly German does has an inviolable class of graves. Those of Jews who were buried before WWII. The one German village I am actually intimate with (and in) has a public park. Nice place. It is an old graveyard. It only has to tombstones left. Both of prewar Jews.

(As my friend said 'because of what we did.")