An alternative to traditional underground burial, a mausoleum is a final resting place above the earth. A space for above-ground entombment, a mausoleum contains one or many crypts, or burial spaces, for both whole body burial and cremated ashes. A variety of factors will influence its cost.
In this article you will learn:
- What is a mausoleum?
- Why do people choose mausoleum burial?
- What are the types of mausoleums?
- How much does a mausoleum cost?
- How can a mausoleum be customized?
What is a mausoleum?
Throughout history, around the world and across cultures, mausoleums have provided a peaceful final resting place for loved ones who have passed as well as a place for their friends and family to go to remember and honor those loved ones. They are sanctuaries that can be found in mankind’s earliest records and in places all over the globe. Regardless of when or where, though, mausoleums share a purpose: to memorialize the special lives of those who have passed.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in Turkey (left), Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome (the Mausoleum of Hadrian) (right), Taj Mahal in India (bottom)
Some of the most famous mausoleums are the Taj Mahal in India, Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome (the Mausoleum of Hadrian) and Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
But most mausoleums are usually built on a more modest scale. Almost every cemetery in North America has mausoleums of some type—whether private or community, indoors or outside. And contrary to some thinking, mausoleums are not dark or dank. They do not smell bad or seem scary. In fact, they are often beautiful, light-filled structures of marble and glass dedicated to honoring the memories of loved ones from all walks of life.
Why do people choose mausoleum burial?
There are various benefits to mausoleum burial over traditional ground burial for many people, including:
- Aboveground alternative. Some people simply don't like the idea of being buried underground. For people who dislike the idea of being under soil, mausoleums offer a fresh-air alternative above ground.
- Tradition. As one of the oldest burial methods, mausoleums offer a connection to treasured traditions. For example, in New Orleans and surrounding areas, aboveground entombment has been the tradition since the time of early settlers.
- Land. Mausoleums are also a good choice for those who live where land is very expensive (think: Vancouver and Hawaii). Because they can be built several stories high, they take advantage of areas without much land to offer.
- Aesthetics. Others may choose a mausoleum for aesthetic reasons. Decor can range from high ceilings with marble to stained-glass windows and intricate wood carvings. Building styles can range from clean and contemporary mausoleums (see Ocean View Burial Park in Vancouver) to the ivy-covered walls and artisan carvings of the Acacia Mausoleum in Seattle.
- Privacy. Private family mausoleums offer a prominent and statuesque final resting place that can be customized to meet any family's needs. They are a good choice for families that desire exclusive access to their final resting place, or want to have the opportunity to visit loved ones in private.
- Environment. Unlike a lawn, a mausoleum doesn't require watering for perpetuity. This makes it an environmental choice for some, particularly in areas where water is scarce.
For many, the appeal of a mausoleum is as simple as having a permanent place of remembrance that offers privacy and comfort.
Types of mausoleums
Mausoleums are generally categorized by their location—indoor or outdoor—and degree of privacy—community or private.
Community mausoleum costs
Community mausoleums, or public mausoleums, are open to anyone who wants to purchase an entombment space.
Community mausoleums have metal plaques that list the names of the individuals entombed there, or the names can be carved into the granite on the front of a crypt, or burial space. Flowers and mementos can be placed in small holders attached to the front of each space.
An indoor community mausoleum with a stained-glass window and polished marble details at Ocean View Burial Park
Indoor community mausoleums include a room or series of rooms, sometimes rising several floors high, under a tall ceiling lined with burial spaces. They often have chairs or benches for people to sit, reflect and remember. They are often climate controlled and sometimes have a small chapel for committal services.
Starting price for indoor community mausoleum space:
In the United States, the average cost of entombment in a single crypt, or burial space, in a public indoor mausoleum is between $7,000 and $8,000, which is similar to the average cost of a burial plot and grave marker.
A beautiful outdoor community mausoleum with rounded archways at Pacific View Memorial Park
Outdoor community mausoleums, also called garden mausoleums, are freestanding banks of burial spaces that are typically under a roof, but without external walls. Outdoor community mausoleums can have covered sidewalks, and some are grouped around a landscaped courtyard.
Starting price for outdoor community mausoleum space
In the United States, the average cost of entombment in a single crypt, or burial space, in a public outdoor mausoleum is between $4,000 and $5,000, which is similar to the average cost of a burial plot and grave marker.
Private mausoleum costs
Private, or family, mausoleums are structures owned and occupied by a single family and are accessible only by members of that family. They are identified by the number of crypts, or grave spaces, in the structure, and whether there is an interior space for living family members to visit loved ones.
Usually constructed from premium materials like granite and marble, private mausoleums are an exceptional tribute to a family's legacy. Private mausoleums can resemble long, rectangular spaces just above the ground or a small house or chapel, depending on the style.
Granite private family mausoleum holding eight crypts
Two-, four-, six-, eight- or 12-crypt walk-up mausoleums can accommodate a number of full body burials and/or cremation urns in one crypt. Because these small buildings are often built to custom specifications, and stand alone on cemetery property, they are more expensive than entombment in community mausoleums.
Starting price for a private (family) walk-up mausoleum
Costs vary widely for private mausoleums. A two-crypt, stand-alone mausoleum ranges from $50,000 to $125,000. Land price and materials are the greatest factors impacting the price.
Private mausoleum at Rose Hill Burial Park
Walk-in mausoleums are the most exclusive mausoleum option. Often constructed like a small house or chapel, they can be built to a range of specifications and with almost unlimited options, from size and configuration to building materials and interior amenities. Walk-in mausoleums accommodate at least two to four family members and up to nine or more people, depending on the design. They can be designed to include roomy interiors for visiting loved ones, worship, meditation or even museum space.
Starting price for a private (family) walk-in mausoleum
As with walk-up mausoleums, costs range widely. A large, walk-in family mausoleum can cost $250,000 to more than $3 million. Things like land price, size, materials, complexity of design and special features all influence price.
Factors influencing mausoleum cost
The price of a mausoleum varies, depending on several factors:
- Type is among the biggest factors. Private mausoleums are more expensive than community mausoleums, and a space in a garden mausoleum is generally less expensive than one in an indoor mausoleum.
- Location is another factor. In a community mausoleum, the location of the individual space within the mausoleum influences cost. Heart-level spaces are more expensive than those that are at the highest or lowest levels of the mausoleum, where a visiting family may feel more distant from the loved one. For a private mausoleum, the size of the structure's footprint and location within the cemetery can impact the cost of the property.
- Geography also affects costs. In parts of the country where land is at a premium and cemetery property costs are higher in general, the cost of a mausoleum crypt will likely be higher than in an area where real estate is less expensive.
Find the right final resting place
Explore your many options with The Buyer's Guide to Cemetery Property.
Customizing a private mausoleum
Just as grave markers and other monuments reflect personal preferences, mausoleums are designed with attention to the details that will reflect the person or people being honored. There are virtually endless possibilities for customizing a mausoleum, and a build-to-suit mausoleum gives a family the option to specify:
- Architectural style
- Color and type of stone
- Number of rooms
- Etchings and decorative engravings
- Interior options, such as shelving
- Number of crypt (burial) spaces
- Number of spaces for cremation urns
- A seating area to sit and reflect
- Landscaping around the mausoleum
Inside Customized Family Mausoleums
When it comes to private mausoleums, imagination and budget are really the only limits. At Pacific View Memorial Park in Newport Beach, California, some families have chosen to use their mausoleums as mini museums, displaying favorite works of art or commissioning artwork especially for the space. Others have incorporated custom statuary, putting greens, wishing wells and more into their mausoleum spaces. It's really up to you.
Private Family Room at Rose Hill Burial Park
Private Family Room at Pacific View Memorial Park
Examples of different private family rooms
Private Family Room at Chapel Hill Gardens West Cemetery
Mausoleums for sale
Spaces in a community mausoleum are often purchased in advance. Most families decide on private mausoleums and work out the particulars together before a death occurs. Construction can begin well before the mausoleum is needed, letting a family enjoy their new legacy for years to come.
A spacious community mausoleum with a glass ceiling provides benches for guests to rest and reflect at Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park
The Dignity Memorial® network includes more than 400 affiliated perpetual care cemeteries that offer community and private mausoleums for sale throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Some of the most prestigious mausoleum space in North America is available only through our network, as well as historic properties and neighborhood cemeteries. Our pre-planning advisors are expertly trained to guide you through the selection, purchase and customization of mausoleum spaces and structures.
Contact us today to discuss community mausoleum space for sale or how to get started designing a private mausoleum for your family.