Lonely Planet Writer

The best cities in the world for culture and lifestyle, according to expats

A new job in an exciting city is often enough to convince a traveller to relocate for a period, but the culture and lifestyle that cities offer can be a real deciding factor into whether that new city becomes a well-loved home.

People dancing at summer Strandbar beach party in Berlin, Germany Image by ©canadastock/Shutterstock

For those who consider culture and lifestyle a top priority, Berlin is the best city to call home, according to the latest Expat Explorer survey from HSBC. The German capital is famous for its nightlife and art scene, and the report found that 70% of expats living there say it had a “vibrant cultural scene”. The city is also considered one of the most welcoming, as 55% of expats say the city welcomes diversity, taking the third place spot in Europe after Stockholm and Lisbon.

The survey defines expatriate as someone over 18 years old who is currently living away from their home country or country of origin. Cities around the world were ranked based on expats thoughts on their cultural offerings, quality of life and more. Berlin was followed by Buenos Aires, London, New York and Paris as the world’s top cultural hotspots. However, those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle or get a better quality of life preferred cities like Sydney, Vancouver and Madrid.

People swimming at Mahon Pool, Maroubra, Sydney. Image by ©ai_yoshi/Getty Images

The second most cultural city is Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, as 67% of expats living there appreciated the cultural scene. The city is home to hot spots like the Teatro Colón and the modern MALBA (Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires) museum. About 44% also said it had great restaurants and good quality food – beating out spots like Barcelona and Hong Kong in that regard.

It should come as no surprise that London, Paris, and New York filled out the top five hotspots for expat culture, as all are famous for their art, fashion and more. However, Paris did take the edge for sightseeing, as 62% of expats loved the sights, compared to only 36% of respondents in New York.

A tourist poses for a picture on the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge near Vancouver, Canada. Image by ©Christopher Kimmel/Getty Images

However, some people are less focused on soaking up culture than they are at improving their overall quality of life. In that regard, Sydney is famous for getting its residents outdoors, and 62% of respondents say they are more physically active since moving there. While Sydney may have the sun, Vancouver, with its easy access to the mountains and the ocean, is similarly a great spot for those who want to get active. In fact, 91% of expats in the city say their physical health is better or the same since moving to Vancouver. For those who want to stay in Europe, Madrid may be the place to go. About 54% of Madrid-based expats are happier since moving there, compared to 40% worldwide. In general, expats there say they are healthier and happier than before they moved there.