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Grave Matters: The Cost of Dying in Dubrovnik Raises Eyebrows

Written by  Feb 25, 2024

“You can buy a house for that price, that’s madness,” I said to a real estate friend. “And the prices keep going up and up, in fact it’s a good investment,” he added.

I’m not quite sure how we got to this rather morbid subject, but all I can say is that dying in Dubrovnik is a very expensive business.

“We’ve had people advertising gravesites in popular locations for 70 to 80 thousand euros. And it is a similar story as the real estate business in the city – the demand is high but the supply low,” he concluded. Rather black humour, but in the funeral business you will always have customers.

Last year was a busy one, as far as funerals are concerned, I guess the older you get the more need to wear black you have.

I vividly remember the first ever funeral I visited in Dubrovnik. It was literally during the first few weeks, way back at the end of the 90’s. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so my wife kind of ran through the details. “The most important point is when you enter the chapel you’ll see a couple of rows of people, you shake their hand and say moj saučešće,” she said.

I had absolutely zero Croatian knowledge, so I tried my best to remember the sound, phonetically. “It sounds like Ceaușescu to me,” I replied to my wife. And yes, you guessed it, the moment I arrived at the entrance to the chapel all I could think of was the name of a Romanian communist dictator. Needless to say I only shook the mourner’s hands and refrained from opening my mouth.

I had had some experiences of funerals in the UK, thankfully not that many, and I thought that the main differences between here and there were basically tied to religious beliefs.

However, there is clearly another major difference, and that’s the price, more precisely the price of a grave.

I’m not sure how I fell down the online “rabbit hole” about all and sundry concerning death and funerals, but I did. And the more I fell the more I discovered. “How is this so cheap?” I said to my wife from the couch. “Are you looking at bloody funerals again?” she replied. I guess she was getting used to my morbid research, or rather getting annoyed.

“How can it be cheaper to buy a gravesite in an exclusive site in the middle of London than it is to buy one in Dubrovnik?” I said, but seemingly to myself as there was no reply. “You can even legally bury someone in your back garden in the UK according to this website,” again silence.

So, for an exclusive site in Greenwich you’ll need to pay around £2,000, or €2,300! And if you live outside of the metropole the prices drop significantly. Meaning that a small parish in the country will charge around £800!

Roughly (and mathematics isn’t my best subject) that means that a grave in the centre of London is three to four times cheaper than one in Dubrovnik!

I continued digging (sorry, for the pun) and found this advert on one website in the UK - More expensive options, such as mausoleum burial or private cemetery gardens, can cost £10,000. WTF! A whole mausoleum! Why is so cheap. I could end up like the Račić family in Cavtat.

And then a lightbulb moment, I am guessing that more funerals in the UK are cremations than here. I was right. Nearly 80 percent of funerals in England are cremations. Does that have an effect on the price of graves? Quite possibly.

You can't choreograph death, but you can choreograph your funeral, once wrote Marina Abramović. You can it’s just that the choreography here is going to make a considerable dent in your bank account.

“We even had one lady who wanted to swap her apartment for a grave,” added my real estate friend. “And the waiting list for prime sites is as long as my arm,” he concluded. Madness. My advice – don’t die. 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

           

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