Looking to retire in Belgium in 2 years

We've been looking into retiring in Belgium in two years, as we have relatives there (so meet the requirement for 'sponsor to write letters of recommendation'...and can also help with translating the forms when necessary). 

I'm trying to get a rough idea of time line.  Everything on our end finishes in two years from now (leases, work, etc). So goal would be to move end of May in 2021. 

My main question is assuming the 'long term retirement visa' requirements are met and we get approved (fingers crossed), when would be the time to apply for it? Is a year in advance too far in advance? Not sure how long a time period one has from date of issuance and 'move to' date.  But as it sounds like 3 months is the minimum it takes to hear back and get an issuance (so six months would be a good safety zone)...

We are thinking of renting vs. buying. How quickly do rentals get processed (should one look a month before? Three? More?).

Thank you for any and all help!

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