I think the common themes include language and places re: perhaps culture-wise, perceived value, climate, transparent land rights, functional infrastructure (incl air travel connectivity), where the individual retiree feels comfortable and secure, and where they can live a combination of their home and local cultures. It's worth repeating too that happy retirement usually expects/needs to 'go risk-off'. Living in a place that might soon have a military coup is not a risk that figures in peoples' plans. Most also won't aspire to be pioneering a new retirement destination on their own. Those few who do tend to know it very deeply already. If there is already an established community of people similar'ish like you, people who might help you set yourself up and later provide avenues into social activities then all the better.
So with that in mind:
- Australia. Depends on where 'home is', but it's a heck of a long way from Europe. I've enjoyed visiting it, but it still feels like the end of the world to me. How often might friends/family visit, and you them, when it's a 24hr flight? Younger people can endure that once or twice, to experience Australia, but it's not a pleasant way to start/end any holiday for anyone.
- Spain. Yep historically works well for many people. But there was a notorious land-grab some years back. Where a developer built hundreds of homes for retirees and some years later a court case was launched claiming he didn't have title to the land and all the homes (hundreds) had to be demolished. Added to which Spain has seen many time-share schemes, which generally come with a major trust-warning attached. Rightly or wrongly that fits within the stereotype view that things in the S.Europe countries can be pretty random at times. It might otherwise be an option that ticked most boxes for many people.
- France. An obvious choice for many, as long as you can deal with ‘French ways’. (IMHO/E) they can be pretty xenophobic, and the taxes are high. Also getting things done (example: internet connection) seems to run to a Mediterranean timescale. That’s based on a friend with deep family links to a village where he bought a lovely house, so his family are remembered and he is accepted as a historic part of the community. But heavens he faced some challenges, simple things like getting a 2nd phone line for internet, which took months/+ to arrange. The default position being ‘You can’t have two phone lines, why would you want that anyway?’. So there is an element of can’t-do that also reads across into other necessities of life. Lastly, French law is very different from UK law so that’s a pretty expensive hurdle.
- Malaysia. Love the place but wouldn't buy there. A lot of question marks with opaque land title, and how you can never buy freehold, hence you’re always answerable and at the whim of some ‘other master’. The government might have MM2H but I don't see any say established western retirement locations. Not Politically stable.
- Thailand. I can see why it used to work. Naturally friendly, stable, lovely climate, little or no taboo around pork and alcohol and so on, good value for money. Acceptably close to home that F+F would likely want to visit. But all the political uncertainty going on there right now has likely changed the equation for those considering it as a retirement or holiday-home destination.
I can’t see myself buying a retirement/holiday home abroad. It’s a nice idea but given some thought and testing it doesn’t add up for me. Say you spent 3-4 months a year there, you’re still going to have costs clocking up the rest of the year. Who’ll take care of it in your absence, that’s going to cost too? Unless you are going to live there permanently as your sole home it risks being veeery expensive. A bit like owning a yacht, superficially a wonderful thing to be able to do but the running/maintenance/boatyard storage etc costs are massive, and clocking up every week of the year. You need to be completely loaded to buy such a thing and use it only occasionally. Probably to the extent that the costs are of little or no consequence to you. IMO there is x-over between that and a 2nd/holiday home.
... for the time-being I'll stick with the notion that with all the $ I'll save not owning a 2nd place abroad, then for trips abroad I can afford to pay more to stay in nice hotels or even rent a holiday property
for a period of time. The latter (say, renting a house somewhere for a month, or 2,3) would hopefully be possible without a lot of hassle of setting up a home there from scratch.