What you consider the ideal home in Spain will depend very much on your personal circumstances. If you are a couple or are single, a large villa with extensive gardens and multiple bedrooms and is probably not the ideal home, as spending a lot of time maintaining a property where you only utilise a quarter of the space is not in my opinion, the best way to spend your time.
Think about if you would really use a swimming pool, use a large terrace or barbecue. If the answer is no, but you plan on renting the property for part of the year, then these features are assets that you will want to have as you can ask for higher rents. Be aware, in recent times local authorities are cracking down on the number of holiday rental permits given to property owners to allow them to rent the property to tourists. Before buying, check with your agent if this is the case in your area. A reputable agent like James Bolton from javeaproperty.com will advise you on how to proceed if you wish to make money from renting.
If renting is not in your plans, like many others you may find you have little need for a pool and large garden when you move to Spain.
Location, Location, Location
The location of your property is extremely important. You might not be a driver, or maybe you are not planning to buy a car when you move to Spain, in which case it is important your new home is within easy walking distance of local shops and other amenities. Alternatively, you need to make sure there is frequent and reliable public transport services to the area.
Gather your information from a wide variety of resources, rather than relying on a single article or website. Online forums are useful places to get opinions and information from others who have already made the move.
When do you have a general idea of what it is you wish to experience when you start your new life in Spain, the next basic step is the all-important one of choosing an area.
Spain is a very large country and areas differ dramatically. The northern part of Spain around Santander and Galicia for example, is very wet with a lush green landscape, similar to that of Ireland due to the amount of rainfall it receives. In the south, it can get extremely hot in the summertime and might not be the best option if you are sensitive to heat or are taking an elderly relative with you.
The most popular area for expats in Spain are the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol. The Costa Blanca has an idyllic climate and a booming tourist trade, which affords work opportunities and relatively cheap property prices. It is also well connected for transport both nationally and internationally. The possible downside of this area, depending on your personal preference, is there many expats on the Costa Blanca and it is difficult to get a feel of the real Spain if this is what you desire.
Make sure you do your homework very carefully before choosing an area and visit at different times of the year to get a real feel of how it would be to live there all year round.