Best cities for expats to move to in 2016 - Britannia Movers International
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Best cities for expats to move to in 2016

According to consulting firm Mercers’ 18th Annual study of foreign worker’s overseas lifestyles, which assesses the quality of living conditions in over 440 locations around the world, the following cities are the best cities for expats to move to in 2016.

  1. Vienna (Austria)
  2. Zurich (Switzerland)
  3. Auckland (New Zealand)
  4. Munich (Germany)
  5. Vancouver (Canada)
  6. Dusseldorf (Germany)
  7. Frankfurt (Germany)
  8. Geneva (Switzerland)
  9. Copenhagen (Denmark)
  10. Sydney (Australia)


  1. Vienna (Austria)

Austria has a thriving economy, stable political system, cultural diversity and beautiful countryside, (not forgetting the popular and majestic Austrian Alps). All of these factors contribute to a high-quality of living for locals and expats alike.

Austria’s capital Vienna is a very romantic city with narrow, medieval alleyways and large imperial squares to wander through and discover majestic architecture along the Ring boulevard. It’s a city steeped in history, where famous musicians once lived and worked in such as Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss. Vienna also boasts the comforts and infrastructure of a modern city with plenty for you to see and do, though it’s not a cheap city to move to. Since joining the EU prices for goods, food and other essentials have all increased in line with those found in the rest of the EU.

Johan strauss monument

  1. Zurich (Switzerland)

Although Zurich is not Switzerland’s capital city, it is the country’s biggest city with a population of around 390,000 inhabitants, rising to around 1 million for “greater Zurich” or its Bezirke (districts). Zurich is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, however you will find that most people living in Zurich speak English.

One of the most popular reasons for moving to Zurich is for the work opportunities. Like the rest of Switzerland, if you are looking to get ahead in the job market, the salaries can be double and even triple the salaries found in other European countries within similar job roles. Those living in Zurich and Geneva are thought to have the average highest incomes in the world, mostly within finance, banking and insurance. And for those moving to Zurich with children, Switzerland boasts one of the best educational systems in the world.


  1. Auckland (New Zealand)

Auckland in the North island of New Zealand is the largest and most populous urban area in the country, with 32% of New Zealanders living there. Expats moving to Auckland will find a modern, Westernised city, with the charm and easier pace of a seaside location. Aptly nicknamed ‘The city of Sails’ 1 in 3 households own a boat, and people who live in Auckland enjoy a variety of outdoor pursuits, including rugby and cricket.

Back in the 1980’s many companies relocated their head offices from Wellington to Auckland making it the nerve centre of New Zealand’s economy, producing a third of New Zealands GDP.

Auckland has a subtropical climate with warm humid summers (averaging 20⁰C) and mild damp winters (averaging 11⁰C).

Auckland sky tower

  1. Munich (Germany)

Germany’s third biggest city Munich has the highest quality of life of all the major cities in Germany. With over 20 large parks (Englisher Garten is larger than Central Park in New York), proximity to the Alps, rural character and friendly locals; Munich is a great place to move to. Its location makes it easy for expats to explore the rest of Europe. It’s recommended you own a bike as the network of dedicated cycling lanes and relatively flat geography makes it very bicycle friendly.

Munich is a vibrant and multicultural city where about 25% of its inhabitants are of foreign origin. It’s full of cool bars, where you can sample Bavaria’s best brews and traditional foods plus you have the annual Oktoberfest to attend, which is famous the world over.

Munich Oktoberfest beer

  1. Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver is certainly one of Canada’s most unique and endearing cities and regularly ranks within the top cities for its cleanliness, politeness and lifestyle in various surveys. Due to its Pacific Ocean location, Vancouver is a port city that is a hub of shipping and industry exporting Canadian goods to Asia and the USA’s west coast.

This is one of the few places where you can go windsurfing in the morning and skiing in the evening, and the scenery surrounding Vancouver is breath-taking; just look at the famous Rocky Mountains and the beautiful Pacific Northwest rainforest, which can be viewed from the 450 foot Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Aluminum canoe and a boat on a mountain lake

  1. Dusseldorf (Germany)

Located in the west of Germany, Dusseldorf is proud to be recognised around the world as one of the fashion and art capitals of Europe. It has a long history of fashion and textile production and hosts a biannual fashion event known as ‘The Gallery Dusseldorf’ attracting fashion designers and buyers from around the world. So if you love shopping, Dusseldorf is the place for you to live as there are plenty of upmarket shopping districts (Kὂnigsallee is the most popular) to visit, where you can find some of the world’s most famous brands. At Christmas you also have the spectacular Christmas Markets to visit, where there is plenty of activities, mulled wine and everything you would want to get into the spirit of Christmas.

Dusseldorf has a superb infrastructure, excellent international schools and a cosmopolitan attitude. Dusseldorf is a great place to move to with excellent opportunities for career progress, and a high quality of life for you and your family.
German Christmas Market

  1. Frankfurt (Germany)

Home to some of Europe’s tallest buildings, Frankfurt is one of Germany’s most modern cities and is a centre for culture, commerce, tourism and education. Frankfurt is also the centre for national and international banking.

While working opportunities predominately encourage expats to move to the area, Frankfurt is nonetheless beautiful and brimming with sightseeing attractions, world-class opera and theatre to keep you entertained, and the variety of cuisine on offer is as you would expect from a cosmopolitan city.

Frankfurt is known to have a relatively high cost of living and accommodation can be expensive, with a high demand for affordable housing so expats moving to the area need to move quickly to secure a home; That being said, salaries are generally raised in order to afford residents a decent standard of living.

  1. Geneva (Switzerland)

Geneva is Switzerland’s second most populous city after Zurich, and is in the French-speaking part of the country that borders France. In the summer months the State of Geneva offers free French courses, ideal for expat workers looking to fit in more with the locals. Although you can get by with English, particularly if you are working for an international organisation.

Geneva is the European headquarters of the United Nations, CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), and other inter-governmental organisations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), making Geneva a worldwide centre for diplomacy.

Because Geneva is host to so many head offices in both the governmental and private sectors, often the city ranks highly in surveys as being an expensive place to live, so you will tend to find a lot of workers live just outside of Geneva, including living in one of the small French towns just across the border, and commuting into town for a more affordable lifestyle.

United Nations in Geneva

  1. Copenhagen (Denmark)

Copenhagen is the major economic and financial centre of Denmark, with the city’s economy based largely on services and commerce. This wonderfully progressive city is renowned for its community development (such as Co-Housing) and sustainability, with an enviable work life balance.

Renowned for its cycling culture, almost everyone rides a bike and with over 390 kilometres of designated cycle lanes it’s a very popular way for locals to travel anywhere around Copenhagen.

Hygge, meaning something like ‘cosy’, is at the core of Danish culture, where people get together to socialise and have a chat, a coffee and maybe even a Danish pastry together in one of the many cafes, some of which are Michelin starred or enjoy the ‘New Nordic’ cuisine in one of the restaurants (there are 15 Michelin restaurants).

The healthcare and childcare system is fantastic, though this comes with an astronomically high rate of taxes. If you like the Danish way of living, with its easy pace of life then you can’t go wrong with Copenhagen.

Copenhagen market

  1. Sydney (Australia)

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales, located on Australia’s east coast. It is a very popular destination for expats looking to escape to a better lifestyle, with the number one reason to move to Sydney being its weather. With barely any rain, bright blue skies most days and a mild winter that would feel like Autumn in the UK, people living in Sydney have a healthy outdoor culture offering plenty of boot camps and outdoor pursuits throughout the day to keep you healthy and active; and incredible healthy cafes and restaurants are popping up all over the city.

Economically stable, Sydney managed to escape the financial crisis of 2007/2008 leaving the Australian dollar stronger than ever, and with its high cost of living, newcomers may find moving to Sydney a bit of a shock for the first few months. However, expats moving to Sydney will on average find that salaries are a third higher than in the UK doing a similar job.

Sydney nightlife

London and Paris didn’t make it into the top 20, almost entirely because of the cities’ vulnerability to terrorist attacks. New York, Hong Kong and Dubai also failed to make it anywhere near the top 20 as well.

Mercers’ report analyses each location within the following 10 categories –

  • Political and social environment
  • Economic environment
  • Socio-cultural environment (limitations on personal freedom)
  • Medical and health considerations
  • Schools and education
  • Public services and transportation
  • Recreation
  • Consumer goods
  • Housing
  • Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

Britannia hopes that this blog has helped you with your life changing decision on where to relocate yourself and your family to. If you wish to find out more about moving to any of these amazing cities or if you are already packed and ready to go and just want a quote to move you to your dream destination, then please contact us on 0845 600 6661 or email