Anyone seeking bragging rights over living in the world's most northern settlement of Svalbard, Norway would be wise to heed a couple of conditions. First, while it's ridiculously easy to garner citizenship in this community of 2,600, located 650 miles from the North Pole, make sure you can pocket the cost of living up there. Oh, and one more thing: no dying.
Seriously? How much for 4 cheeseburgers?
That hassle-free citizenship hasn't been enough to draw future residents given the unforgiving winter cold that on average is as low as minus-30 degrees Fahrenheit. And because of Svalbard's remoteness, the staggering costs of supply deliveries jack up the living expenses accordingly. A fast-food lunch in the town of Longyearbyen that includes four cheeseburgers will set you back $100. As for nightlife, the only real attraction is the Aurora Borealis frequently beaming in the stratosphere.
As for the expiry part, the good folks in Svalbard stress it's better to leave in anything but a casket. Permafrost conditions in the community make burials next to impossible, while Norwegian laws surrounding cremations are rather strict. And technically, there's no legal way to punish the deceased, so the town administration will do everything it can to relocate anyone deemed to be in a palliative state.
Freezing cold, avalanches and polar bears, oh my!
That said, there is no shortage of ways to die in that climate besides the weather. Tumbling overboard into the Arctic Ocean will result in almost instant hypothermia, while avalanches on the archipelago are common. Oh, and don't forget the fearless polar bears, which outnumber human residents.
Those freezing conditions have made Svalbard an ideal site to house much of the world's seeds in what's been dubbed the Doomsday Vault. It's here that future generations of plant life are preserved, slated for planting once the next global catastrophe has subsided. Understandably, vault guardians don't take kindly to visitors.
Still, Svalbard's rustic charm is enough to attract more than 60,000 tourists annually, most of them via cruise ships. Which only shows that maybe it's a nice place to visit, but you probably don't want to live (or die) there.