Greater numbers of Australians are choosing to be as big in death as they have been in life and are locking into elaborate burial sites early before they run out.Competition is being made more intense by the influx of cashed-up Asian communities who are not only prepared to pay handsomely for traditional send-offs of local loved ones, they’re bringing in the departed from offshore for interment here. 

While this isn’t about buying real estate – you’re purchasing burial rights – it’s still all about location, location, location. That’s why cemeteries and memorial parks are advising us to buy what we want in today’s dollars now or risk getting priced out of the market when our time comes.

Australia may not yet be at the level of countries like the US where grave sites go for millions of dollars. But depleting burial space in existing cemeteries may require those of us wanting to be buried rather than cremated book in early or miss out when we check out.

This could be a devastating outcome for surviving family who are left with a sense of failure at not being able to fulfil a loved one’s last wish, says Jane Grover, chief executive officer of Victoria’s Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT).

“We’ve noticed that people who pre-plan have a funeral that involves less anger,” Grover says. “It not only makes that day incredibly smooth but it also keeps the family united because they’re respecting mum or dad’s wishes and there’s nothing to argue over.”

A sense of peace is certainly present as one drives through the main gate of the 110-hectare Springvale Botanical Cemetery, the jewel in the crown of eight such properties managed by SMCT, this one south east of Melbourne’s CBD. But a sign some way down the road reminds you that this is business, advising one to “secure exclusive grave opportunities”.

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