The Best Cities To Live In Abroad (According To Expats)

Looking to move abroad but don't have a specific destination in mind? You'll want to consider the results of a new survey, which asked 27,000 expats around the world to rate their cities based on factors including culture, lifestyle, health and leisure, and job opportunities.
Depending on your priorities, these are some cities in which to consider building your new life.

Berlin – Culture and nightlife

The German capital is the best city in the world for culture, according to the survey by HSBC. Thanks to its abundance of techno music, world-famous nightlife and more than 700 art galleries, 70% of expats rated it as having the most vibrant cultural scene of the 52 cities surveyed, followed by Buenos Aires, 'the Paris of South America', and London.

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More than half (55%) of expats also agreed that Berlin welcomes diversity, which no doubt contributes to the variety of culture on offer. Abby Young-Powell, a freelance journalist who left London for Berlin in 2016, said she wasn't surprised by the result given its world-famous nightclubs, four opera houses and the Berlinale international film festival.
"It also has a lot of open air cinemas showing all sorts of films in summer, which is cool," she told Refinery29, but added that there are drawbacks when it comes to accessibility. "Museums and galleries aren't free as they are in London, which is one of the things that makes London a great city for culture as well. Of course, the cost of living in Berlin is cheaper though."

Sydney – Health and leisure

If you're more into #wellness and staying active or want to improve your fitness levels, Australia's most populous city could be for you. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of expats said they were more physically active since moving there, while an impressive 90% said their physical health had either improved or stayed the same. This could be down to its Instagram-worthy beaches, of which there are more than a hundred, its citizens' active lifestyle and the leisure facilities on offer.

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Madrid – Happiness and relaxation

For those seeking a happier and more relaxed quality of life, Madrid is worth considering. The city, dubbed the "health hotspot of Spain", affords expats a more relaxed lunchtime routine than their home countries, with 54% of Madrid-based expats feeling happier (compared to 40% worldwide), and 50% having a more positive outlook on life since relocating there (compared to 41% worldwide). The famous Spanish siesta has a lot to answer for, even if it is declining in popularity.
Madrid's expats also reported being more physically active in their new lives (45%), which could be explained by the city’s abundance of parks and sunny climate, with 97 days of sunshine each year.

Vancouver – Hobbies and fun

If you prefer colder climes though, the survey suggests it's still possible to lead an active, fun-filled lifestyle abroad. The coastal Canadian city ranked second to Sydney for its leisure facilities, with 37% of expats praising the city for this reason. Stanley Park and the ski resort Whistler Blackcomb make the city a favourite among outdoor sports fans. Half of its expats (49%) moved there specifically for a better quality of life and a huge percentage (91%) said their physical health is better or the same since moving.

San Francisco – Jobs

If finding a job is at the top of your priorities list and you work in tech, San Francisco may be the place to go. Home to Silicon Valley, the majority (57%) of its expats rated it as having fantastic job opportunities – well above the 25% global average – thanks to its booming economy and world-leading position in the tech industry.
The city may be expensive, but having the world's second-highest average income means expats can maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Indeed, half (50%) said they were living in better accommodation than they were previously and 42% said they drove a better car than they did at home.
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