With its lush green forests, rolling hills and affluent neighbourhoods, Het Gooi is one of the most coveted places to live in the Netherlands.
The region of Het Gooi – a cluster of villages southeast of Amsterdam and north of Utrecht on the hill ridge – is known as the home of the rich and famous. Some of the top-earning and most well-known Dutch celebrities and business people call its ritzy villages home.
Expats in the Netherlands can live among the rich and famous in Het Gooi, too, as well as close to pristine nature reserves that are still easily accessible by private and public transportation – the only question is where. Expatica gives a short overview of the area, and how to select a new home in Het Gooi.
A short history of Het Gooi
The name Het Gooi comes from the word gouw in Dutch, which refers to an old Germanic term for a region within a country – but the history of Het Gooi is much older than its name. Prehistoric pottery and burial mounds from the Bronze Age have been found in Hilversum, and the region remained largely undeveloped until the beginning of the 14th century.
Naarden was the first city in Het Gooi, and has preserved much of its history as well as its remarkable form: the pointed star shape of medieval bastion forts. The region continued to grow thanks to the waterways built between the 16th and 18th century, leading from Amsterdam. As a result, rich merchants and other wealthy individuals flocked to Het Gooi to build their massive villas.
Het Gooi is often combined with the Vechtstreek region and Eemland, which is just to the west of Het Gooi and includes the Vecht River as well as Eemnes, Baarn and Soest; the two regions make up the protected North Holland region of Gooi and Vechtstreek.
While the actual composition of the region is debatable, Het Gooi typically comprises Blaricum, Hilversum, Huizen, Laren and Gooise Meren, the latter of which became a municipality in 2016 and includes Bussum, Muiden and Naarden. The Gooi and Vechtstreek region comprises the municipalities of Het Gooi, as well as Vechtstreek municipalities Weesp and Wijdemeren. The municipality Stichtse Vecht is also considered part of the Vechtstreek region, which includes Nigtevecht and Breukelen, among others.
The top three places to live in Het Gooi
Hilversum, as the centre of Het Gooi and the Hollywood of Holland, is one of the best places to live in the Netherlands for young expats. The city is thriving, with nearly 90,000 inhabitants and the famous Media Park – a business park that houses Dutch public broadcasting system NPO and media company RTL, among others – which provides ample job opportunities and an international atmosphere. A shopping district – the largest in Het Gooi – and plenty of festivals and events make it popular for the younger crowd, but kid-friendly neighbourhoods and a large number of international schools in Hilversum
make it ideal for parents as well.
Those who want to live near Amsterdam
in a city with a rich history can opt to live in Naarden, part of the Gooise Meren municipality – which, according to Elsevier, is one of the top 10 best municipalities in the whole of the Netherlands.
The town is located within the impressive star fort, and is a quiet, family-friendly place to live, with large houses and streets as well as ample parking space (unlike many Dutch cities that feature narrow roads and limited parking).
South of Naarden is Bussum, once just a small hamlet that grew into one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. Het Spiegel, a residential area on the west side of the village, contains a number of majestic 19th- and 20th-century villas, many of which are available to rent. The Naarden-Bussum railway station is located in the northeast of Bussum, providing easy transportation to Hilversum and Almere (10 minutes) and Amsterdam, including Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (about 30 minutes).
Top three places to live in Gooi and Vechtstreek
Although not technically part of Het Gooi, Eemnes is often considered as a member of the club. With tons of green space and just about 9,000 residents, it’s a paradise for families with young children or those looking to get away from the bustle of the city but still remain within reach. Eemnes is also known as one of the most accessible places in the Netherlands, with one report claiming that one could travel to any place in the Netherlands within 78 minutes – ideal for those who are always on the move.
The current Blaricum municipality exists alongside the old village and the neighbourhoods Crailo and the Bijvanck.
Blaricum is a village with a friendly and open character. The village is adjacent to the water first and the other side is surrounded by moorland, beautiful forest and Engen. Blaricum is surrounded by greenery and agricultural history still makes her proud. The old farmhouses in the village recall times when agriculture was the main source of income. The beautiful villas around it indicate a rich history.
Those who drive into the old village of Blaricum, immediately see the farms with thatched roofs. Some of these farms have been from known artists and visionaries. Blaricum has a lot of valuable architectural buildings built by famous architects. Characteristic of the old village are the winding roads, the workers and the beautiful green hedges. The fields with rye and buckwheat offer a beautiful sight.
Blaricum has cosy restaurants such as the Red Sun, Tretorria Bruno, Moeke Spijkstra and the Oude Tak, as well as unusual shops. One of its ice cream shops was named the best ice cream maker of the Netherlands in 2009.
The small village Laren is located in the heart of the Gooi area. It also is the oldest village in the area. Although this used to be a farmers villages nowadays it is one of the places to be.
In the heart of the village, the Brink, you will find interesting shops, cosy cafes and excellent restaurants. There is also St John’s Basilica and in the summer season a pancake stall. Under the old oak is regularly played bocce. On the Brink, you find a variety of activities like the May 4 Memorial, Queen’s festivities and ice skating in winter.
In the nice centre of Laren, you find more than 80 mode boutiques and can discover the delights of shopping. Or you settle down at one of the many terraces and look at the shoppers.
Laren creates beautiful, varied walks along the picturesque Saxon farmhouses. In the surrounding nature, you find different tracks. Also, a bike ride is a fun way to get to know the area.
The highlight of Loosdrecht, a town within the municipality of Wijdemeren, is its lakes – the Loosdrechtse Plassen become holiday hotspots in the warmer months. Here you can rent a boat, start sailing lessons or water-skiing. The area is actually divided in two: Oud-Loosdrecht is to the west, right on the lake where the residences are mostly lakeside villas. Nieuw-Loosdrecht is further east and is more urban than its leisurely counterpart.
For truly small-town living, Nigtevecht is a favourite. With a population of just over 1,000, Nigtevecht has far more green areas (and blue, thanks to its many lakes) than people; it’s one of the reasons it is a generally a holiday spot. Older couples looking to settle down or families with outdoorsy children may find their perfect home in Nigtevecht.