When it comes time for people to retire, where do most people want to live? That can be a complicated question for some since — without ties to a job — they no longer “have to” live anywhere.

For some retirees the prospect of a location allowing affordable housing, reasonable taxes and the kind of a safe and culturally-stimulating historic environment with ample medical resources and numerous active recreational and lifestyle opportunities are precisely what they want. Throw in amenities such as opportunities for volunteer or part-time work and adjacency to family members — think the Kansas City metro area — and it is evident what many retirees are seeking.

Ottawa made the list of five small towns on CNNMoney magazine’s list of the 25 best places in the United States to retire. That is high praise and is worth noting for what it takes to be listed along with Aberdeen, S.D., Danville, Ky., Prescott, Ariz., and Summerville, S.C., especially considering that Ottawa had the lowest average home price — $119,000 — on the list and the third lowest tax rate along with moderate temperatures and four seasons. The listing said that Ottawa had “Architecturally rich buildings and 200 miles of converted rail trails.” Clearly today’s retirees don’t want to sit at home in a rocking chair. Instead they want to get out and do things though they would like to do so as affordably as possible, which makes this area an excellent value. A great library, recreation center, outdoor trails, plentiful faith offerings, pleasant and attractive downtown as well as numerous free community events fit the pragmatic and unpretentious lifestyle many people desire in their golden years.

Ottawa is a good place to call home. Many enjoy its close access to lakes and other nearby attractions. Others revel in its relative safety and low crime rate. Knowing that the potholes will be filled in the summer and the streets cleared of snow in the winter are priorities for many, too. While others enjoy the sense of community from being in a small town where merchants and neighbors are the same and think of it as an honor to look out for each other. Still others enjoy the access to education at the community’s two higher education institutions and the many related cultural and educational opportunities associated with it. Ottawa University offers lifelong learning opportunities from its affiliation with the Osher Institute.

And once retirees can’t live on their own, the area offers a number of quality retirement homes, too. Many have said Ottawa offers the small town “Americana” lifestyle that many desire along with big city amenities nearby. Retirement offers many choices. We’re glad to see many are choosing to live and participate in life in Ottawa. That’s definitely something to be proud of and an honor worth building upon.

 — Jeanny Sharp, Editor and publisher