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Real Estate for the Afterlife

Category: Finance,Real Estate

“We are seeing more and more people planning ahead,” said Mr. Ison of Woodlawn. Seven years ago, he added, 40 percent of people made arrangements ahead of time, or “pre-need” rather than “at need” (by which time prices may have increased); last year, 60 percent did.

Antonia Russo pulled it off just in time.

In the summer of 2017, her mother was ailing, which lent urgency to the search for a burial plot for her parents. They had lived in Forest Hills, Queens, for most of their adult lives, but were born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant and remained “proud Brooklynites,” Ms. Russo said.

So in consultation with her parents, she opted for a spot on the Brooklyn side of the Evergreens Cemetery, which straddles Brooklyn and Queens. Ms. Russo passed up a plot on a grassy knoll under a tree in favor of one bordering Bushwick Avenue, because she felt that her mother, who had always lived on busy streets, would feel more at home. “I knew this was where she’d be happy,” Ms. Russo said.

Two weeks after the papers were signed, her mother passed away.

Cemetery plot location, like all real estate, usually comes down to personal preference, said John O. D’Arienzo, a funeral home director and the president of the Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association. “If you take 100 people, 50 people will want to be by the road, so if it’s cold they can see the stone from the car,” he said. “The other 50 will want to be in the middle of the section, so everyone doesn’t walk all over the grave.”

He added: “It’s like who wants a blue house, who wants a red house.”

John Crawford, a retired hotel worker who lives on the Upper West Side, frequents death cafes and attended a recent one at the St. Agnes library branch on Amsterdam Avenue. Mr. Crawford is leaning toward a green burial at the Town Cemetery in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where a natural burial ground opened in 2014 on land that was once part of an estate.

The spot appeals to him in part because of its price: $1,650, which is $400 more than it costs to be buried in the conventional part of the same cemetery, but far less than what most cemeteries in New York City charge.

Mr. Crawford also admires the beautiful forested grounds.

“I may not have a country home,” he said. “But at least I could get buried out there in the country.”

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