Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, New York and Paris are the world’s top cultural hotspots for expats but those looking for a healthier lifestyle opt for Sydney, Vancouver and Madrid, a new survey has found.

Berlin is named as the world’s culture hotspot with its 700 art galleries and world famous techno music scene, according to 70% of expats living in the city. The HSBC Expat Explorer survey also found that Berlin is regarded as the third most welcoming city in terms of diversity, behind Stockholm and Lisbon.

Berlin Skyline

Buenos Aires, often referred to as the Paris of South America is regarded as a cosmopolitan capital city known around the world for its stately 19th century buildings and rich history. Expats living there relish these cultural opportunities, with 45% rating its rich and diverse sightseeing and 67% appreciating the vibrant cultural scene including the Teatro Colón and the modern MALBA museum.

They also enjoy the culture through its culinary scene, notably the Argentine love of asado barbecues, with 44% citing its great restaurants and quality of food.

All famous cities for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture, London, Paris and New York round out the top five expat culture hotspots. Some 62% of expats in London and 61% of expats in Paris and New York say they appreciate the vibrant culture. Paris comes top for sightseeing, with 62% of expats there praising the richness and diversity of its sights, compared to just 36% in New York.

But expats are looking for more than just world beating culture and cuisine. Worldwide, 38% of expats say they move to a new country primarily to take on a new challenge while 34% want to improve their quality of life.

Sydney is renowned for its active lifestyle and leisure facilities and expats credit the city for improving their physical wellbeing, with 62% being more physically active since making the move. Furthermore, 90% claim their physical health has improved or stayed the same since moving.

Expats don’t need warm weather for an active, healthy lifestyle abroad. Home to Stanley Park and near to the site of the 2010 Winter Olympic ski resort of Whistler Blackcomb, some 37% of expats in Vancouver rank the city as having great leisure facilities, second only to Sydney.

Indeed, 49% of expats in Vancouver moved there for a better quality of life and 91% of expats in the city say their physical health is better or the same since moving.

Expats in Madrid say they are both healthier and happier than before in their new life in the Spanish capital. Some 54% of Madrid based expats feel happier compared to 40% worldwide and 50% report a more positive outlook on life since their move compared to 41% worldwide. While 45% say they are also more physically active than before.

‘There is a stereotype that expats move purely for their careers and for greater financial opportunities, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact it’s the thirst for a new challenge, whether getting to grips with a new culture or living a healthier lifestyle that attracts expats abroad,’ said Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat.

‘The world’s cities are filled with life changing opportunities. Our survey reveals that expats are integrating with locals, learning the language and exchanging cultures, skills and ideas, making the most of the city they live in and becoming part of their new society,’ he added.