Australia is the best country in the world to bring up children because of its great outdoor lifestyle and friendly schools, according to expats.

It has the best environment for healthy and active children, with more than three quarters of expat kids spending more time outdoors than in their home country, a survey from bank HSBC says.

Expat children also found it easier to make friends and ease into new school environments, while schools in the United States and Britain were the least child friendly for foreigners, the study also found.

The survey looked at more than 3,100 expatriates from 50 countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, the US, the United Arab Emirates and Australia.

Respondents rated their adopted homes on quality of childcare, education, ease of integration, costs of raising children and time spent on outdoor activities.

Australia had the largest proportion of expat parents who reported an improvement in the quality of family life compared with their original homes, while almost half, 45%, said moving to the UK could have a negative effect.

Singapore ranked second overall behind Australia in the top six, followed by Hong Kong, the UAE, the US and UK. But Singapore ranked first for safety, while Australia was marked down slightly on childcare quality.

Parents saw Britain and the US as generally less healthy places to live, with children in both countries more likely to spend more time watching TV and playing computer games.

Children in the US were also more likely to frequently eat junk food compared with where they used to live, with 47% of expats eating more junk food, HSBC said.

Overall, expat parents believed their children benefited by moving to a foreign country, with an average 48% of expat kids adapting well to a new culture, half making new friends easily and 49% adapting well to new schooling.

The UK ranked top on cultural adaptation, while cultural differences saw the UAE ranked last.

'When you're talking to an expat community you're obviously talking to people with a varied degree of experience in terms of different countries. The key issues around childcare and education, they were the things that were really highlighted. The UK has scored lower than some of the other countries in those respects,' said an HSBC spokesman.