People ask me all the time if we like living in North Carolina. So, in true Type A fashion, I made a list of the pros and cons of Fort Bragg.
When our orders came through for Fort Bragg, we were less than thrilled.
This military base is one of the largest in the world, and is one of the most talked about and most hated.
Fayetteville, the town right outside of Fort Bragg, has consistently ranked one of the worst military towns to live in. It even earned itself the nickname ‘Fayettenam’.
Despite all of that, we haven’t hated being here. In fact, we are currently PCSing and are kinda sad to leave it behind.
Fort Bragg and North Carolina have been good to us. We had 3 good years here. Our kids thrived at their schools, they participated in multiple sports and activities, we made good friends, I found flexible jobs, and we did a lot of fun stuff. (Marking things off of our Fort Bragg Bucket List was one of our favorite things to do on the weekends!)
Really, what more can you ask for at a duty station?
Pros of Fort Bragg Living:
North Carolina is Beautiful
As a whole, North Carolina is a beautiful state!
From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks and all of the woods, cities, and farmland in between, this state has some gorgeous views.
Lots of Things to See and Do
One thing we loved about being stationed at Fort Bragg is that there are a lot of things to see and do! Anyone that tells you that this place is boring is telling you a LIE.
Fayetteville has TONS of events and festivals, not to mention its baseball and hockey teams. From big-box retailers to mom-and-pop shops, there are wayyy too many options for shopping and dining to list. (You can check out our Fayetteville Bucket List for plenty of ideas for things to do.)
And even if you aren’t a fan of Fay, this area is a launching pad for tons of other cool places to go. Southern Pines, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wilmington, Charlotte, Mount Airy, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Boone….the list of charming North Carolina towns goes on and on.
You are also only a 4-5 hour drive from Washington D.C., Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Richmond, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Savannah. The options for weekend trips are endless!
Low Cost of Living
You can’t make a list of the pros and cons of Fort Bragg without considering the financial impact. Like many places in the South, the areas around Fort Bragg enjoy a low cost of living.
According to payscale.com, Fayetteville’s cost of living is 7% lower than the national average. And Fayetteville’s housing costs are 29% lower than the national average!
Even though we didn’t live in Fayetteville, we didn’t have any trouble finding a house to rent off-post within our budget.
My family in Florida and Los Angeles cannot believe how low our housing costs are here. It’s definitely something I’m going to miss when we leave.
I’m a Florida girl through and through. I don’t like anything about cold weather or long winters. Thankfully, that wasn’t an issue here at Fort Bragg.
In the 3 winters that we spent in North Carolina, it only snowed twice! The kids LOVED it!
Of course, schools closed down and work was canceled, so we enjoyed our snow days together.
It doesn’t really start getting cold until almost December and by March, things are already starting to warm up again. So, the winters are short and mild….just the way I like them!
I guess this depends on the person, but for me, long summers are definitely a pro!
Summers in the South are one of my absolute favorite things. Taking the kids to every swimming hole we can find is what I live for in the summer.
We found so many places to cool off near Fort Bragg!
From the beaches on the coast to Sliding Rock in the mountains to the community pools in Fayetteville, we tried them all!
Cons of Fort Bragg Living:
Fayetteville’s High Crime Rate
I try to be positive on the blog and social media. However, Fayetteville’s crime rate cannot be ignored.
According to multiple sources, the property crime rate in Fayetteville is nearly double the national average. And the violent crime rate is also above average.
I was robbed at a gas station in Haymount (which is considered a good area of Fayetteville).
In general, I tend to distrust other people’s negative comments. So, when everyone told me how dangerous Fayetteville was, I shrugged and thought, “There are bad areas in EVERY town.” And while that is true, I learned my lesson the hard way and hope that you don’t have to.
That doesn’t mean avoiding Fayetteville, but using good judgment and being aware of your surroundings. Also, maybe avoid being at gas stations alone at night!
North Carolina’s Schools Are Not the Best
In 2019, North Carolina’s public schools ranked 37th out of 51. While, it escaped the bottom ranked states, it is still well below the top half of the nation.
This is an issue for us coming from Florida, where the education system is ranked one of the best in the nation. We plan on eventually moving back to Florida and worry that our kids will be behind.
Despite my low expectations, I was thoroughly impressed by Anderson Creek Primary School. We could not have asked for a better school or teachers. I feel that my girls gained a good academic foundation there and I would recommend this school to anyone!
However, I was not nearly as impressed with South Harnett Elementary, where the kids attended starting in 3rd grade. And I have heard similar low opinions of the middle and high schools in the area.
I’m sure there are other great schools in the area, but I encourage you to do your research.
It’s Hot & Humid
Out of the pros and cons of Fort Bragg, one of the most common complaints is the HEAT & HUMIDITY.
And yes, that is one complaint, because you pretty much don’t get one without the other.
I don’t personally consider this a con of living at Fort Bragg, since I’ve lived in the South most of my life. In fact, I thought the heat and humidity were a little less intense than what I was accustomed to.
The heat and humidity are uncomfortable, but they can also be lethal. Fort Bragg made the top of the list of heat-related injuries from 2014-2018, second only to Fort Benning, Georgia.
Many spouses may not be affected by the heat and humidity at Fort Bragg. However, their soldiers will feel the impacts of training in these conditions.
The Bugs Are Terrifying
Another shock for people moving to Fort Bragg from other parts of the country are the bugs!
Again, this aspect of Fort Bragg was not a shock to me after spending the majority of my life in the Southeast. But other spouses are appalled by the number and size of bugs here!
If the giant palmetto bugs (aka cockroaches) don’t scare you, the spiders definitely will.
We sprayed around our house a couple of times a year with a strong poison to keep the bugs away. Thankfully, finding a bug inside the house or even on the porch was a rare occurrence.
However, Hurricane Florence changed all of that. The flooding from the storm drove the bugs out of the woods and into our yard.
There were spider webs EVERYWHERE. In every tree, on our chain link fence, on our porches, on our cars, on the kid’s bikes and outside toys, on the mailbox…..EVERYfreakingWHERE you looked there was a spider web.
Thankfully, after a few weeks of torture, it all went back to normal.
If you have a bug phobia, Fort Bragg could be hard for you!
For us, the pros and cons of Fort Bragg evened each other out. Would we want to move back and live here forever? Probably not.
Did we hate being here for 3+ years? Not in the least.
I am a firm believer in blooming where you are planted. This duty station was fun, because we made it fun!
We made a bucket list, got involved in activities, and met some great people.
All in all, we enjoyed our time at Fort Bragg. It’s probably my favorite duty station, yet!
Great article Mandee. I’ve lived behind Anderson Creek Elementary school for 39 years after meeting my wife in 1980 while in the 82d. I have now worked at Womack the last 17 years, doing maintenance. Like you, I also love this place. The weather, the coast and the mountains. Plenty of festivals, car shows, flee markets, concerts and Harley rides to keep me busy. The crime I’m not concerned with. I live on 44 acres of private property with security camera’s and a Mossberg shotgun for ample protection,( if someone gets stupid). I also have a concealed carry license and carry my 38 Ruger when we are out and about. No problems so far though. You gave an accurate description of Ft. Bragg and some beautiful pictures of the area and your lovely daughter. Thank you! Jay
Thank you for your sweet compliment and for taking the time to read my post. My kids went to Anderson Creek, so I know exactly where that is at! We loved our time in Harnett County and we miss it!