Chinese Taking Luxury Spending To The Grave (Literally)

Coveted Gravesites More Expensive Than Top Beijing Real Estate Per Square Meter

Prices for grave plots have skyrocketed in the last decade as cemeteries have become more crowded

Prices for grave plots have skyrocketed in the last decade as cemeteries have become more crowded

While young urban Chinese continue to fret about skyrocketing real estate costs, older residents of Beijing and other top cities are worried about rising prices for another kind of real estate: a gravesite. According to China Daily, while the average price of a second-hand property in Beijing remained at 23,361 yuan (US$3,705) per square meter as of this month, the cost for a tiny 0.7-square meter plot of land at Taofeng Cemetery in the Beijing suburbs will run you 25,800 yuan (US$4,092). Interestingly enough, Taofeng is one of the lower-priced cemeteries in the area. Rising prices have sent some residents scrambling to find plots for themselves or family members in neighboring Hebei province. While this isn’t a new story — steadily rising costs have seen urban Chinese grimly refer to themselves as “grave slaves” for having to work to afford the burials of themselves and their parents — it has taken on more urgency as cemeteries have become increasingly crowded.

In Shanghai, rising prices for coveted gravesites are even becoming an issue at public cemeteries, which are funded and operated by the department of civil affairs. At Binghai Ancient Garden Cemetery, a 0.5-square meter grave costs a whopping 68,800 yuan (US$10,911), putting it far out of the reach of most residents. But even this isn’t one of the most expensive examples. From China Daily:

In 2011, the internet users (sic) ranked the top 10 priciest graves in China. A grave in Anleyuan Cemetery in Xiamen of East China’s Fujian province topped the league costing 8 million yuan (US$1.3 million).

The Xiang’an Cemetery in Guangzhou, Capital of South China’s Guangdong province, is reportedly selling a 1.39-square meter grave for 160,000 yuan (US$25,374), 15 times the price of housing in the nearby area.

Another cemetery named The Blessed Place for Repaying prices its grave at 40,000 yuan (US$6,343) per square meter for the cheapest one and over 200,000 yuan (US$31,717) per square meter for the most expensive.

A high-priced gravesite isn’t the only way Chinese are taking luxury spending to the grave. With Qingming (“Tomb-Sweeping”) Festival set to take place in China early next month, expect to see funerary stores breaking out paper offerings designed to provide one’s ancestors with a taste of the good (after)life. Last year, CNNGo profiled some of the best “luxury” paper offerings, ranging from villas to cigarettes, baijiu to land deeds. This year, one of the most popular paper offerings could be iPads.

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Market Analysis, Retail