Mr. P and I are at the stage of life where we are thinking about retirement. It's still quite a few years off, but as they say ... if you fail to plan, you may as well plan to fail.
We do not view "retirement" as ceasing to do anything interesting or even ceasing to work for money. We view it as ceasing to work full-time in Los Angeles.
An older acquaintance of ours, while we were on the subject, asked what we would Do. She apparently is not ready to consider retiring herself, because she has no idea of how to fill the time if she were not working. I have the opposite problem. :-)
For years, we've been looking at the California Central Coast as our target market for retirement. I've been haunting a site called Landwatch. In the past couple of years, prices have been creeping steadily upward again, and the desirable properties on the market have gotten few and far between.
It's one thing to consider a $100K empty lot when you are 35, quite another 20 years later. But after a period of some anxiety I suddenly had a revelation. (This will seem blindingly obvious to anyone else, but I was so focused on the one locale that I had tunnel vision.)
The revelation was that we did not have to look only there, and that there are other areas of California that we know and love.
With a quick pivot, we are now looking at the western central-Sierra foothills. And "what to do" is not going to be a problem.
For one thing, if you're buying land in the country, that means you are going to be manipulating Nature to get what you want (in aesthetics and production) out of the property. And as anyone who has tried to do any kind of landscaping (much less agriculture) knows, it is a never-ending task.
So the key here is to rein in the imagination because one does not want to do Only That for the rest of one's life, especially when one is starting out at a relatively advanced age. Ideally, one can tend one's garden, etc., in a couple of hours a day (max) and without doing one's self an injury.
With a specific property in mind, it gets really easy to let the imagination run wild. Fences, trees, habitat, garden, water feature(s), where to stash the vehicle(s), storage, the propane tank, decking ... there are a lot of things to consider. Since I am a compulsive planner, having all these variables to play with is So. Much. Fun.
Because I've been an apartment-dweller for my entire adult life, these variables nearly all require Research, which I also happen to find fun. I get to learn, for example, how far a propane tank is required to be from a residence and what's involved with installing, maintaining, and refilling it. I get to find out where the recycling collection points are in our target area, and where the public recreational waterways are. I get to do a cost/benefit on renting vs. owning things like a kayak. Each individual piece of the puzzle is fairly minor, not time-intensive, and at the moment utterly commitment-free.
And I get to learn about local people we might want to consider hiring to do certain things that we aren't qualified to do. The best time to get acquainted with people is, in my opinion, well before you need them. So we're already talking to a realtor up there.
Due to our age and stage of life, we have some pretty clear ideas of what we do and don't want in late-life living. Complete isolation: no. Invisible neighbors: yes.
I am even coming around on the idea of a homeowner's association. After looking at the one in which a specific property is located, and thinking through how beneficial it could be during the years before we could actually move there, it seems reasonable to pay a small annual fee for well-maintained roads and the occasional security check of the property.
This type of HOA is, I hasten to add, not at all like the condo type that dictates what kind of siding and window treatments you can use. It's more like "your residence has to be at least X square feet and you may not have more than 3 dogs."
Chickens, I've noted, are fine. :-) So I also get to imagine the ideal chicken coop.