Fort Bragg, Military Life

Pros and Cons of Being Stationed at Fort Bragg

People ask me all the time how we’ve liked it here, so in true Type A fashion, I made a list of the pros and cons of Fort Bragg.

When orders came through for Fort Bragg, we were less than thrilled.

This duty station, while the largest in the world, 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, earning it the nickname ‘Fayettenam’.

Pros and Cons of Fort Bragg, NC | Finding Mandee

Despite all of that, we haven’t hated being here. In fact, we are currently PCSing and we’re kinda sad to leave it behind.

Fort Bragg and North Carolina have been good to us. We’ve had 3 good years here. Our kids thrived at their schools, they participated in multiple extracurricular activities, we made good friends, I found flexible jobs, and we did a lot of fun stuff.

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, there are some gorgeous views in this state.

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 their 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.

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, Wilimington, Charlotte, Mount Airy, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Boone….the list of 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 in 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 my sister in Los Angeles cannot believe how low our housing costs are here and it’s one thing I’m going to miss!

Pros and Cons of Fort Bragg: Pro - Low cost of living
(We’re going to miss our house in North Carolina!)

Mild Winters

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 once! The kids LOVED it! Of course schools closed, 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!

Long Summers

I guess this depends on the person, if it is a pro or not, but for me long summers are definitely a positive thing!

Summers in the south are one of my absolute favorite things. Taking the kids to every swimming hole we can possibly find is what I live for in the summer.

We found so many places to cool off near Fort Bragg! From the beaches to Sliding Rock in the mountains to the community pools in Fayetteville to Lake Jordan, we tried them all!

Cons of Fort Bragg Living:

Fayetteville’s High Crime Rate

As a whole, I try to remain really positive here on my blog and social media. However, Fayetteville’s crime rate cannot be ignored.

According to multiple internet sources, Fayetteville’s property crime rate is nearly double that of the national average. And it’s violent crime rate is also above average.

I, myself, 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 avoid Fayetteville, but use good judgment and be aware of your surroundings. Also, maybe avoid being at gas stations alone at night!

Big list of things to do in Fayetteville, NC.
(The Market House in Downtown Fayetteville.)

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 coming from Florida where the education system is considered one of the best in the nation. We plan on eventually moving back to Florida and worry that our kids will be behind.

However, I was thoroughly impressed by Anderson Creek Primary School, where our children went for the first 2 years we were at Bragg. We could not have asked for a better school or teachers. My girls received a quality education and have a good academic foundation. I would recommend this school to anyone!

I was not nearly as impressed with South Harnett Elementary, where the kids attended starting in 3rd grade. And I have heard similar opinions about the middle and high schools that were available to us.

I’m sure there are other great schools in the area, but I encourage you to do your research.

Pros and Cons of Fort Bragg: Con - North Carolina's schools are not the best.
(My girls ready for Curriculum Night at Anderson Creek Primary School.)

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 it one complaint, because you pretty much don’t get one without the other down here.

I don’t really consider this a con of living at Fort Bragg, since I grew up in Florida and spent more than 3 years at Fort Polk, Louisiana before moving to North Carolina. In fact, I thought the heat and humidity were a little less intense than what I was accustomed to.

While the heat and humidity is uncomfortable, it 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 definitely feel the impacts of training in these conditions.

Pros and Cons of Fort Bragg: Con - the heat and humdity.
(When you start out in jeans and long-sleeves, but end up in a tank that afternoon.)

The Bugs Are Terrifying

Another shock for people moving to Fort Bragg from other parts of the country are the bugs!

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 the 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 time a year with a strong poison and that really seemed to help keep the bugs away. Thankfully, finding a bug inside the house or even on the porch was a rare occurrence.

However, when Hurricane Florence came through, the flooding drove the bugs out of the woods and into our yard. There were spider webs EVERYWHERE. In every tree, on our chain link fence, our back deck, our front porch, on our cars, the kids bikes & outside toys, the mailbox…..EVERYWHERE you looked you saw a spider web.

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!

Pros and Cons of Fort Bragg: Con - there are a lot of bugs.
(This is what happened when my youngest saw a bug outside on the ground. So, you can imagine the drama when we find one inside.)

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. In fact, it’s probably been my favorite duty station, yet!

Pros and Cons of Fort Bragg | Finding Mandee

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