8 Ways Expats Are Making The Most Of Hamburg And Auckland

new york friends

Hamburg and Auckland both feature in the Economist’s 2017 top ten “most liveable” cities in the world, and have maintained their position from 2016.

But why?

What do these cities have to offer and how are expats benefiting? From the culture, and standard of healthcare, to the overall quality of life, this article explores what makes these cities so attractive to expats.

Hamburg is Germany’s second biggest city and is one of the country’s major hubs for industry, finance, and culture. Auckland is surrounded by natural beauty but is also the most densely populated city in New Zealand. The high regard for these cities among expats is no surprise as both New Zealand and Germany rank in the top 4 of the HSBC 2017 Expat Explorer Survey, with Germany leaping six places from 10th position in 2016.


1 Health and wellbeing

Moving to a new city can often mean being so busy that healthy eating and exercise get abandoned in favour of settling in. As with much of central Europe, Hamburg not only has good transport options, but is well prepared for walkers, joggers, and cyclists.

Thanks to a number of government schemes, cycling is one of the most common ways to get around Hamburg. While this is a great way for expats to get to know the local area, it also helps to build regular exercise into the daily routine without thinking about gym memberships during the first few weeks.

Red bikes

2 Location

A major port city in the north of the country, Hamburg is Germany’s second city and is a centre for industry, as well as being a major transport hub. It has been estimated that 30% of the population has a foreign background and represents over 180 nations. This diversity and thriving industry makes Hamburg a hugely attractive option for expats from all over the world.

As a port town, Hamburg is filled with scenic locations built around water. The Alster river splits and runs down either side of the city. The result is stunning views across hundreds of bridges, and more canals than Amsterdam and Venice combined. After being bombed during the Second World War, much of the city was rebuilt, lending it a wonderful blend of old and new architecture to complement the area’s natural beauty.

IMG_8045_web - Hamburg Binnenalster pano

3 Culture

Hamburg has a strong link to British expats. This is for many reasons, not least being occupied by British forces during the Second World War, who went on to develop a fondness for the city. This has only been strengthened by a musical connection with Britain, hosting a string of early concerts by the Beatles during the early 1960s.

Hamburg’s reputation for great entertainment continues today. With trains running through the night, the Reeperbahn entertainment district and its legendary festival, and a range of concerts and events, there is entertainment to be enjoyed all year round.

Expat culture is such that, while the German community are traditionally reserved, the expats in the city are diverse and welcoming towards arrivals from all over the world. This makes it an excellent location for new expats.

Standing still - Day 114/365

4 Quality of life

It is not surprising that Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living rankings place Hamburg high on the list at number 19 out of 450 cities, well above London, which placed 40th. This is likely due to the combination of good healthcare, effective infrastructure and an attractive culture for expats means.

The metrics used to measure quality of life are varied and cover factors including education, health, housing, and the socio-cultural environment. While it might not be the first city expats think of when planning to move abroad, Hamburg’s impressive ranking suggests it is an ideal location for those looking to relocate.



5 Healthcare

Ranked 41st by the World Health Organization (WHO), expats can feel assured that they are likely to receive high-quality healthcare in New Zealand. But, while New Zealand’s public health system is subsidized by the government, generally only citizens, residents, or people holding work visas that are valid for two years or more qualify. This means that new expats may find themselves paying out-of-pocket fees. So, expats may want to consider arranging international health insurance before traveling.

Auckland Sunset

6 Location

Auckland has many beaches, including Mission Bay and Takapuna Beach, which are very close to the main city centers. With such stunning natural surroundings, and typically warm weather, it is no surprise that Auckland has an outdoor-oriented population.

The balance between bustling city life and the serenity of rural living is a dilemma for many people across the world. Auckland solves this problem by offering both. With incredible natural scenery surrounding the city, you’re never far away from a stunning landscape, be it natural or man-made.

Urban sheep

7 Culture

One of the most charming things about Auckland is the cultural diversity. The city is relatively small, with a population of just 1.37million, but with 39 percent of the population born abroad, it is also one of the world’s most diverse cities. While this allows expats to enjoy the diversity of cultures, having so many European expats is likely to also help with the integration of new arrivals.

As well as the blend of influence coming from the British, Asian and European populations, New Zealand is proud of its deep-rooted Maori and Polynesian cultural traditions. It is unlikely that expats will be familiar with these cultures. But with frequent celebrations, expats can explore these rich traditions without feeling like an outsider.

Maori Warrior sculpture in Auckland (head)

8 Cuisine

As well as the lamb, seafood, and cheese that New Zealand is famous for, the range of food options in Auckland is incredibly diverse. Asian and European food is very popular and is usually reasonably priced. Auckland is known for its excellent restaurant scene, and eating your way around town is always a great way to get to know a city and all of its neighborhoods.

This allows expats the freedom to explore the cuisine of a range of cultures, while still being able to have a taste of home, without resorting to expensive imports.

Thanks to good infrastructure, strong economies and reliable healthcare, there is much to appeal to expats in both countries. This, combined with the many social and leisure activities, and spectacular blend of urban and natural surroundings, it’s easy to see why expats are making the most of both cities.


Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Hamburg Bikes by Lukas Koster; (2) Hamburg Binnenalster by Alex Drop; (3) Standing Still by Nadine Heidrich; (4) Hamburg by Carsten Frenzl; (5) Auckland Sunset by Small; (6) Urban Sheep by Bernard Spragg; (7) Maori Sculpture by D Coetzee; (8) Nyonya Restaurant by Yann

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