There are a number of physical formats you can consider when buying gold:
If you're not buying an huge amount of gold, you should aim to maintain direct control over it at your home or other property.
If you're investing heavily, to the point where you need a safe alternative location to store it, be sure to go somewhere like Switzerland with strong property rights. It's key to make sure they can't lend or hedge using your stash.
When investing in any asset, including gold, it's important to keep the time horizon in mind. Prices fluctuate, and over a longer time horizon there's a better chance of your investment appreciating in value.
The last thing anyone would want is to invest money they'll need in the coming months, only to have the market move against them. Talk to your financial adviser, and carefully plan any future purchases.
Physical precious metals like gold are a hedge to the traditional banking system. In a crisis, if the system collapses, it may very well take your property down with it (if it can).
If there is a run on the banks, having your gold under your direct control means they can't confiscate it, block access to it, or have loaned it out in a leveraged fashion.
It's important to comply with the law when it comes to buying gold, and knowing what they are goes a long way.
Under a certain dollar amount, there's no need to declare (which may be attractive to some), but once you hit a threshold you will need to (and should) declare your holdings.