Should You Purchase a Home Across the Street from a Cemetery? “The Spouse Off” #3

by Broke Professional on February 8, 2011 · 31 comments

The Spouse Off“The Spouse Off” is a new weekly feature of brokeprofessionals.com, where every Tuesday Mr. and Mrs. Broke Professional will debate a different personal finance topic in 250 words or less each, and will then have a chance at a rebuttal, in 100 words or less each. The winner will then be declared based upon the comments made by you, the readers and will be calculated every Thursday at 7:00 p.m., (eastern time). The winner will be announced in the follow weeks “Spouse Off.” Last Week Mrs. Broke Professional won to take a 1-0 lead. So enjoy reading, and then please join the debate!

For this edition of the “Spouse-Off”, we are addressing an issue that is currently facing us in our own lives.  We have probably Mentioned it, but we have been house-hunting for a cheap starter-type home for over six months now.  We live close to New York so finding a good home in our budget is difficult.  We finally found a beautiful home, but it is across from a cemetery.  We have been having some discourse back and forth on whether we should purchase this home, and the pros and cons of buying real estate across from a cemetery.  So, here is our Spouse Off Debate of the Week:  “Should You Purchase a Home Across the Street From a Cemetery?”

“Country clubs and cemeteries are the two biggest wasters of prime real estate!”   (Al Cvervik a/k/a Rodney Dangerfield, Caddy Shack)

I.  Opening Remarks:  Mrs. Broke Professional

I would.  As my mother-in-law says: “You need not fear the dead but the living.”  For me, living across from a cemetery evokes little reaction if any.  Personally, I do believe in ghosts, and yes I can, on occasion find even the prettiest of cemeteries hair-raising.  But in the end, living across from a cemetery does little to scare me away from purchasing a home that I truly love.

I would even go as far as to suggest that having a cemetery for a neighbor would be a pleasant and quiet alternative to many of the people we currently reside near.  For instance, would you rather have a crying baby, blaring stereo and/or barking dog or the lull of a quiet cemetery?  I know what I would choose.

Additionally, homes near cemeteries often boast lower prices and a somewhat guarantee that the land will not be turned into a superstore or strip mall anytime soon.  In the end, I will have to, for argument’s sake, side with my mother-in-law and take a good ole’ quiet cemetery over a loud, living neighbor any day.

II.  Opening Remarks: Mr. Broke Professional

Of all the different places one could choose to buy a home, why would you even consider purchasing a home across the street from a cemetery?  Unless you have a morbid fixation why not simply choose just about anywhere else?  There are reasons, both spiritual and economic for avoiding buying property near a cemetery like the plague that killed your newest prospective neighbors.

Now I am no Feng Shui master, but even I know that under the basic principles of Feng Shui, living across the street or near a cemetery is considered a huge no-no.  The negative energies from the cemetery are thought to negatively impact your life.  In fact, under Feng Shui principles, living across or near a cemetery is perhaps the absolute worst place to live.  For its part, western culture too considers cemeteries as one of, if not the, most likely to be haunted locations.  The odds of your home itself being haunted must rise exponentially if you live near a cemetery.  Not to mention the fact that cemeteries are, to most people, off-putting, depressing, and/or creepy.

Do I believe all of the above?  The truth is it doesn’t matter! Why?  Because a large percentage of the population does believe all or some of the above.  That means reselling the house one day may prove extremely difficult.  It also means that certain guests in your home may not feel comfortable with the surroundings.  How would you feel when your summer BBQ party is interrupted by a funeral procession meandering down the street?  Most likely bummed.

III.  Rebuttal: Mrs. Broke Professional

I would argue that for as many people out there that would be bothered , there are that many more who wouldn’t care about a zombie, ghost, or ghoul so long as there was a good house for a good price.  Also, Mr. BP, with regards to resale value, a home in a nice area with a strong sales history will continue to sell, because the bottom line is some people just don’t care about a little old cemetery if the house is a block off of a great downtown area or close enough that they can walk their children to school.

In the end, I argue that there will always be people out there who do not care about campfire lore or Feng Shei Ideology.

IV.  Rebuttal:  Mr. Broke Professional

I agree that the cemetery will likely already be factored into the sales price, but that does not mean a quick turn around come sales time.  You better be careful before you find the mausoleum across the street has more value than your house!

People are uncomfortable with death, and people want a view.  Its just not for everyone.  Why choose a house with a red flag when there are so many other options?

By the way, one final point:  You mentioned zombies…well who do you think is getting eaten first in a zombie apocalypse scenario? If you live across from a cemetery, odds are it’s you!

So, what do you think?  Would you live across from the cemetery?  Any bad experiences you know of from friends/family/lore of people who paid dearly for living near a cemetery?  We for one always like a good ghost story.  Mrs. Broke Professional has won the first two spouse-offs, and we choose the winners based upon the comments.  So please, vote early, vote Chicago style often, (j/k) and perhaps ignore who is really wrong or write and vote for me, Mr. BP, before Mrs. BP gets an even bigger head.



{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sustainable PF February 8, 2011 at 7:26 am

I wouldn’t.
First reason, as mentioned, re-sale value. Yes people exist who won’t care but you will have to convince that small segment of buyers to buy YOUR house instead of a different one.
Second reason is that a cemetery means increased traffic. I enjoy living on a street where there are more used streets nearby for us to use, but not have to live on.

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2 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 7:30 am

And I take the early 1-0 lead. Thanks you Mr. Sustainable PF, and I couldn’t agree with your points more!

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3 101 Centavos February 8, 2011 at 8:21 am

Well, it sure would be a quiet neighborhood. I don’t know about not having re-sale value, everyone’s dying to get in. :-)

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4 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 8:32 am

And you thought the real estate market was dead everywhere else!

1-1 tie.

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5 101 Centavos February 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Yes, but in some places, competition is stiff!

2-1

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6 MoneyCone February 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

On the other hand you want to be a part of the zombie apocalypse, what better place to buy a house!

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7 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 11:46 am

That’s true… and I once received a gag gift on the subject (The Zombie Survival Guide) so perhaps I could be ok on the frontlines for a while (lol).

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8 Philly area February 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

It wouldn’t bother me, but it would bother my husband, so we ruled it out early on. He conceded my desire to be within walking distance of a Wawa, and I conceded his desire not to live near a cemetery.

Although I will say when we bought our house, we did not consider it our starter home. It was our starter, ender and everything in betweener home. Only a natural disaster or the neighborhood going to crack could get us out of here now. So resale wasn’t and isn’t an issue for us I don’t know how a cemetery affects all that, but I would definitely find out before buying if I knew we’d eventually want to sell the place.

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9 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I think your right that it is a very personal type of thing. I have an overactive imagination so I may not be well suited for living close to a cemetery. At the same time, I know someone who’s dad was a gravedigger and she grew up in a cemetery. She says it was never a big deal and that it was actually a nice quiet place to live (all things considered). I guess you get used to it. As for resale I figure it is already priced into the deal but I’m not sure. I like Mrs. Broke Professional’s point that at the very least you know they probably won’t be putting anything else in. I think my dad would trade his “annoying” neighbors for some tombstones any day of the week.

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10 Nancy from Mass February 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm

It wouldn’t bother me at all. I don’t even think it would bother my husband…the reason being is; you never have to worry about your ‘neighbor’ building some monstrous, horrid looking house across the street, no gas station or convenience store will ever go in, etc.

Like Philly area above, when we bought our 5 room house (with 2 bedrooms) we did not consider it our starter home. It is our home and we started our family in it, will see our son go off to college in it and retire in it (we’ll probably die of old age in it also). A home is a home and if you can live with your neighbors that surround you in a humane manner, then having a cemetary across the street from you shouldn’t matter.

The only thing that would bother me about it is if I see a funeral for a young child, or returning veteran…I would be a sobbing mess.

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11 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Yeah I agree with that sentiment. It was actually something I was thinking when I wrote my post. I think there is a differnece between an active cemetery and sort of like the local township/behind church tombstones, that haven’t been active in perhaps centuries. You dodging the storm up there in MA like we did in the NYC area?

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12 Nancy from Mass February 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

we have so much snow that there is no place to put it and roofs all over have been collapsing. the roof on the back of my cape is really high up and there is no way we can get up there to shovel it off. I was a little nervous watching the news, but the warm weather this past weekend took care of most of it. Although I love the snowy weather (after all, I did grow up in New England) and this snow is good for the garden…I am anxious to see it all go!

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13 Mr. Broke Professional February 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

That sounds terrible. Here’s hoping for a quick spring, and that the brutal winter is for the most part behind us.

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14 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Is that now a 3-1 Lead for Ms. BP. Will I ever win?

The wrong person became the lawyer in our household, from the looks of it.

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15 Brandy February 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I think it would be great. Never having to worry about crazy neighbors over there or anything being built. The quiet would be fantastic. And in the rare event corpses got reanimated, a cemetaries the safest place. Theyre under 6 feet of earth and a casket and vault. And you no it would be tended and nice and green. Itd almost be like living accross from a park but without all the kids.

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16 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Well Brandy, that just about locks down another Mrs. BP victory. I may have to fire myself and hire a better co-debator.
I agree with your points though, and I would probably rather live across the street from a cemetery then a park with a bunch of (potentially) annoying kids running around and screaming (lol). If the reanimation occurs it will probably not make much of a difference either way, haha. Thanks for commenting and adding your opinions to the site.

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17 NoTrustFund February 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I’ve actually thought about this quite a bit as we are currently house hunting and live in a city where there’s a big cemetery in a beautiful area of the city surrounded by some great homes. Conclusion- most definitely not. 1) I want to have neighbors across the street from us, seems safer and like more of a community. 2) As much as I wish I wasn’t this way, I think it would freak me out from time to time. And really the deciding factor, 3) Whatever house we buy will be where we raise our children and it’s hard for me to imagine that living across from a cemetery wouldn’t really bother kids.

Ah yes, and then there is resale. Location, location, location.

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18 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 10:25 pm

The person I know who grew up literally in the middle of a cemetery says they remember playing “hide and seek” around the graves as kids. This person has no fear of cemeteries, ghosts or ghouls whatsoever. It was just the reality with which this person was presented with. Meanwhile me, on the other hand am like you, terrified I would slowly start to go all Jack Nicholson in the Shining creeping myself out if I lived in a creepy place. Even as an adult I do not even like unfinished basements!

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19 Well Heeled Blog February 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I would be a little afraid of any creepy vibes. Haha. And of course, the resale value. I think there is a difference between “haunted” / run-down / creepy graveyard vs. a peaceful, tranquil place of rest. So I suppose my reaction would also depend on the condition of the cemetery. But generally, no. Unless the house you can get is incredibly better than one you can get anywhere else.

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20 Mr. Broke Professional February 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Thank you Ms. Well Heeled Blog for, along with wheresmytrustfund? bringing me closer to pulling a late state rally. Voting continues until Thursday at 7:00 p.m. but the comments always slow up once the Spouse Off is moved off the main page. I fear the creepy vibes.

The funny part of all of this is that we actually have reached tentative agreement on a house across from the cemetery that we were talking about.
Proving once again that in real life, as in “The Spouse Off”, Mrs. BP just about always wins.

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21 Nicole February 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I would personally check out crime statistics in the area. Sometimes cemeteries are not so good in terms of the living (same thing with large parks).

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22 Travis @DebtChronicles February 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm

This is a tough decision. If the house REALLY great, and the price is REALLY great, and especially if there’s a nice backyard that I could hang out in such that I don’t have to look at the cemetary, I’d buy it. Just an average house, I say no. If it’s a GREAT house, I’d say yes. So, I guess to figure out who I’m voting for, you and Mrs. BrokeProfessional will have to agree on where the house fits on the Awesomeness scale.

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23 Mr. Broke Professional February 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm

It has a nice quarter acre+ lot and in all reality it is a small little closed off church-type graveyard, so all things considered, not to bad. It is also within walking distance of a nice little “downtown” area with lots of restaurants and the such. All in all, not a bad deal. Mrs.BP already closed off her 3-0 head start so next week I really need to get my thoughts together before posting.

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24 Evan February 10, 2011 at 10:18 am

I think I am siding with the Mr. here (I am actually shocked that it is the guy that is saying no lol). The house is inherently worth less and should be priced accordingly. It would have to be at a tremendous discount – like 20 to 30% cheaper than a house on the inside of area.

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25 Mr. Broke Professional February 10, 2011 at 10:43 am

Mrs. BP is also better at home improvement type tasks than me as well. Mrs. BP would have no problem building a fence and I can barely screw in a light bulb. I am not afraid to admit it.

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26 Squirrelers February 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Hmmm….I feel bad voting against Mrs. BP’s opinion again, but for the 2nd time in a row I’m voting for Mr. BP’s point of view.

I wouldn’t want to live near a cemetary, or more particularly right across from it. We’re all different, and really it wouldn’t freak me out or anything. Just doesn’t seem like a warm place to call home, right across from a cemetary. There are obviously many options that don’t entail that.

Sure, the price might be right, but that’s for a reason – it’s by a cemetery! Location, location, location – that’s paramount in real estate. When put up for resale, the price wil be correspondingly lower as well, so that’a wash.

Bottom line – there are better alternatives for a home. Just my opinion. But if one is wanting to buy in a certain town at a certain price point, then it’s all good. The bogeyman won’t come out to get anyone who lives by there:)

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27 Mike Webster February 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm

While passing through on a link from my wife’s first-time home buyer blog to your recent article on dealing with the underappraisal of the house on which you put a recent offer (good article there, BTW), I noticed this topic. Great topic; wish I had gotten here sooner. As a reflection of my Life (and Death) Philosophy on one hand and of my Personal Temperament on the other, I would vote with Mrs. BP.

Philosophy 1 (Life): My wife and I never bought a house believing anything other than that we would die in it. And when we have chosen to move on, money was never a controlling factor. (We’ve been lucky that way.) So the resale value argument, whether built in to the market or not, doesn’t resonate with me.

Philosophy 2 (Death): I have a strong sense of “memento mori,” an old phrase from that roughly translates “Remember you will die.” (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_mori.) It’s not a necessarily a morbid thought, but rather a simple touchstone that keeps us near a larger reality and invites reflection on how we should be spending our time here. So, although death itself is a difficult fact, I have no negative emotional associations specifically with cemeteries. (And if the house we do eventually die in is near one, why, the place is just a handcart trip away.)

Finally, Personal Temperament, as expressed in the hit theme song from a popular 1984 movie starring Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver: “I ain’t afraid o’ no ghost!”

Looks as if you’re running neck-and-neck in the popular opinion poll. Good luck to both of you in your debates and in your house search.

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28 Mr. Broke Professional February 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Mike,

Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed response. This is the house we are currently trying to purchase, so obviously Mrs. BP won the cemetery fight. The cemetery is a small (full/closed) lot behind a church, so it is not as though in our specific instance we are living near a large cemetery. We are hoping this will be our one and only house and that we can with luck raise a family and grow old there. I think memento mori is a cool thing to keep in mind. It is true, and it is important to remember to enjoy every moment your blessed with, particularly because you never know when it will end.

Anyway, you quoted my favorite movie of my childhood. Let’s hope our old colonial across from the cemetery is less haunted then it sounds.

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29 Jessie January 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I have never been to your website before but just googled, “living on a cemetery” to see what people thought of it because me and my husband actually do! We are what you would call the sextons in a 25 acre Cemetery in Dallas, TX. It is a little weird. But honestly it’s really nice! It’s like having a 25 acre yard and when the gate is closed in the evening we can even let our dog off the leash! Sometimes I feel a little bad when our pup goes to the bathroom on the Carpenters but we clean it right up and there’s not a problem whatsoever! Even when the area (can’t even call it a neighborhood) is super sketchy the cemetery is nice and quiet. Someone posted earlier that a lack of community would be a problem for them and it’s true, that is hard. Just get involved with a small group or church or something! :)

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30 David April 24, 2012 at 10:58 am

My mom would not be caught dead living in a house across from a cemetery. She says that you could not give such a home to her. Many people feel this way. There really is no plus side other than affordability, which is a HUGE plus and determinative for most people who wind up buying houses next to cemeteries.

Yes, it is quiet. But so is living on a dead end or cul de sac.
Yes, it can cause you to contemplate the brevity of life, but so can a photograph of a cemetery, or a painting set above the fireplace.

I suppose you can take comfort in being “nearby” to visit loved ones who die, but I doubt anybody truly wants to be quite that close to the dearly departed. Besides, having your backyard against a the back of a fenced cemetery may be further away from the entrance than living 4 blocks away from the front entrance. In any case, I can hardly see somebody setting out to live NEAR a cemetery because they want to be close to the dearly departed.

And there are definitely down sides — as has been said, you limit the pool of people who will be interested in buying your house (lots of people wouldn’t even look at such a house). You also limit the pool of people who may be interested in visiting your house socially. Maybe you don’t care, but truly, you don’t know because five years from now you may find yourself befriending one of those people and then putting them in an uncomfortable position when you invite them over for a BBQ. Then you might care. Perhaps not enough to move, but perhaps enough to regret somewhat, the decision to live there.

As for me, price rules. If I can have the perfect home (whatever that may mean) at an affordable price (whatever that may mean), I would not avoid purchasing it simply because there is a cemetery in view. As between two equally affordable perfect homes, one in view of the cemetery and one not, I would chose the one that was not. I would pay $18,000 more for the one that was not close to the cemetery.

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