dw – I totally agree with those who recommend renting first. Relocating to another country is a huge step especially when it is intended to be for your retirement i.e. the rest of your life.
This is what we have done and can highly recommend it, it’s an excellent way of getting the feel of a place re. everyday life as against just being on holiday. The bonus is the bank interest from the house-purchase money more than covers the rent (in our case at least) so with prices likely to fall even further you can really take your time without feeling pressure and gives you the flexibility to try out numerous areas/types of lifestyles.
Urbanisation or not? It takes just one inconsiderate neighbour to make life hell so your thoughts re. a larger plot are very sensible.
For me being close to amenities (and healthcare facilities) is important. Remember as you get older, oneday driving may not be an option, a feeling of being involved in some kind of ‘community’ becomes important, as does the element of feeling safe and secure. A one-level property without stairs could be a great advantage in the future. Don’t forget the further inland you go the hotter it gets in the Summer, and power cuts are no fun in the heat so consider some form of back-up (a generator…..or solar photovoltaic if you’re eco-friendly).
These are all things we’ve considered having talked to retirees who admit they would have made different choices with hindsight, and trying to imagine ourselves in 10-20 years time. Ten years ago I was only 50, but in ten years time I’ll be 70 – a scary thought with the years flashing by so fast. 🙁
I see from your profile you enjoy fishing – a location near one of Spain’s lakes could be a consideration?
Wherever you decide I wish you good luck in your search David, and many happy years in retirement.