These are scary and uncertain times. Recent events have suggested that a third large-scale war (whilst hopefully unlikely) wouldn’t be an unfeasible possibility within the next few years. If, like me, you’re thinking “how can I collapse my foot arches and escape possible conscription?”, then take a look at this list of potential neutral bolt-holes in the event of the rest of the world going mad:
Constitutionally forbidden from participating in wars, the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ statistically offers the highest life expectancy of any country’s population in the world: surely a boon for anyone escaping world war 3.
For: Sushi. You can spend your days cooking noodles, talking to cats, and pretending you’re in a Murakami novel.
Against: That language looks difficult to master. You’ll be close to possible war belligerent, North Korea*.
*Since writing this, reports have come in that North Korea had launched a missile that landed within Japan’s waters. Probably worth keeping in mind(!).
3 bed house – £478,000. Details here
4. Costa Rica
The environmentally-progressive ‘Rich Coast’ was crowned ‘greenest country in the world’ by the NEF in 2009, and plans to become carbon-neutral by 2021. And as if this doesn’t sound life-lengthening enough, in 2012, Costa Rica became the first country in the Americas to ban recreational hunting: making it unlikely that you’ll be accidentally shot if you forget to shave for a couple of days.
For: Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949 and said, “we will replace this army with an army of teachers”. Schooling is free here, and the literacy rate is 96.3%.
Against: Despite having a football team that got to the quarter finals in the 2014 world cup, Paulo Wanchope is still as close as you’ll get to a national sporting hero.
3 bed house – £400,000. Details here
3. Vatican City
A walled enclave within Rome, Città del Vaticano retains its neutrality regardless of Italy’s military affiliations. Its economy is sustained by tourists, who buy souvenirs and tickets to the many museums and cultural sites it boasts.
For: The Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, Pizza.
Against: You may as well wall-off your own back garden, Vatican City covers a paltry 110 acres and has a population similar in size to a large secondary school (that’s numbers rather than height). Atheists and non-Catholics might have to keep their beliefs quiet.
Vatican City’s diminutive size makes searching for property difficult, but apartments can be rented. 2 bed apartment – £116 per night. Details here
The most famously neutral country. Switzerland boasts stunning vistas, the highest nominal wealth per adult, and cities such as Zurich: which apparently offer the second best quality of life of anywhere in the world according to consultancy firm, Mercer (Vienna was first, in case you’re wondering).
For: Chocolate, luxury watches, cheese, it’s beautiful.
Against: A tenner for a Big Mac? Switzerland is expensive. Patriotic folk may be mistaken for first-aiders.
3 bed apartment – £582,000. Details here
Not entirely neutral, owing to its EU membership, Ireland still has to be the most attractive pick of the bunch owing to its relative closeness to the UK, and there being no need to master another language. Given how the English have treated the Irish over the course of history, it’d be a surprise if Ireland felt inclined to lend their former colonial overlords a hand in any unnecessary bloodshed.
For: Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, Shaw, Heaney, Guinness
Against: The weather’s not much better.
4 bed house – £126,000. Details here