People ask us all the time if we like it here. So, I did one of my favorite things and made a list! Here are the pros and cons of Fort Cavazos (formerly known as Fort Hood).
(You can see my Pros and Cons list for Fort Liberty (FKA: Fort Bragg) in this post).
In terms of size, Fort Cavazos is the second largest military base in the world (second to JBLM in Washington). In its 214,000 acres, there are more than 45,000 active duty service members and their families, making it the third largest base in the world (behind Fort Liberty and Fort Campbell) in terms of population.
And if I’m being honest, Fort Cavazos has been my least favorite duty station to date.
I tried SO HARD to like it here, but the “Texas years” have been tough for our family (for a multitude of reasons, more than are listed here). So, take this post with a grain of salt considering that I am biased.
Despite not really liking this duty station as a whole, we managed to find things that we enjoy, especially when marking items off of our Fort Cavazos and Texas Bucket List.
So, here are the pros and cons of Fort Cavazos as I experienced it.
Pros of Fort Cavazos
Texas is Beautiful
It’s no secret that the state of Texas is HUGE!
And you can’t encompass that much land without the geography being extremely diverse.
We spent weekends exploring the beautiful Texas Hill Country, the serene beaches of the Gulf Coast, and the dusty red canyons of North Texas. It is truly some of the most varied landscapes that we’ve ever experienced and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to explore it.
There Is A LOT to See & Do
Our Texas Bucket List has well over 100 items and in 3 years, we barely scratched the surface of doing everything on it.
And while it includes experiences from all over the state, there are TONS of things to do in the local area around Fort Cavazos. From museums, movies, rage rooms, escape rooms, axe throwing, and delicious restaurants to hikes, swimming holes, paddle boarding, fishing, gun ranges, and other outdoor adventures there’s never a reason to be bored!
Close to Big Cities
When considering the pros and cons of Fort Cavazos, I think that its location in Central Texas is a definite pro.
The base is located just an hour North of Austin and an hour south of Waco. San Antonio is a 2-ish hour drive and you can reach the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in less than 3 hours. Houston is a little further at 3-ish hours, but would be a great weekend trip.
I never dreamed that a lot of our time here in Texas would be spent exploring these cities, but I’m so glad that it did!
With the exception of the Great Texas Freeze of 2021, the winters at Fort Cavazos were pretty mild.
Typically, the weather doesn’t start getting cold here until late November and by mid-March, it’s already warming up again.
We did have hard freezes/ice days during the ‘normal winters’ here. The schools closed for a day or two and Heff didn’t have to work. So honestly, we enjoyed them and spent our ‘ice days’ together watching movies and playing games.
Central Texas winters are similar to winters throughout most of the southern states – short and mild….just the way I like them!
(We were very fortunate to not lose power during the Great Texas Freeze of 2021.)
I understand that a grocery store is a weird thing to put in my ‘pros’ list….but hear me out.
H-E-B is the best grocery store that I’ve ever shopped in, including Publix (which is nearly traitorous for a Floridian to admit). But they have the best selection that I’ve ever seen! Every time I go, I find a snack or a brand that I’ve never even heard of before.
Admittedly, H-E-B is a little more expensive than Wal-Mart or the Commissary, so we don’t use it for all of our ‘normal’ groceries. But I will go to H-E-B for snacks, charcuterie board supplies, specific cuts of meat, or when I want the best produce.
It sounds strange, but I will miss H-E-B when we leave Texas.
Hands down, the best time of year to be in Central Texas is during the spring.
Before getting stationed at Fort Cavazos, I had heard about the beautiful Texas bluebonnets. And they are spectacular, but no one told me about all of the other wildflowers that are so abundant here.
From March to June, the fields, ditches, and every open area you can find is bursting with colorful wildflowers. I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled over just to take pictures of flowers.
The wildflowers are one of my absolute favorite things here and I’ll miss seeing all of the gorgeous blooms when we PCS.
Cons of Fort Cavazos
Extremely Hot, Long Summers
In my list of the pros and cons of Fort Bragg, I listed the long summers as a pro.
However, the North Carolina heat is a whole different beast than this Texas heat. As I write this post, in the final days of July, we have had WEEKS of triple-digit temperatures. We came home at 9:00 the other night and it was still 97 degrees!
Going swimming is about the only thing we can stand to do outside during the day, but even with plenty of sunscreen we sometimes still end up with a sunburn.
It is absolutely miserable!
So, in this list of the pros and cons of Fort Cavazos, the long hot summers are definitely a con.
(You can tell in these pictures how dry and brown the grass is. By July, the grass is crunchy.)
Bad Roads/Broken Windshields
We have been at Fort Cavazos for less than 3 years and we have replaced 2 windshields. That doesn’t include all of the random chips and small cracks that didn’t require a full replacement.
Unfortunately, there are so many rocks on the roads here. I don’t know if it’s because of the rocky soil or because the roads are just garbage, but each replacement windshield in my SUV is around $375 and I’m tired of spending money on them.
So, unless you’re in the glass business, the amount of flying rocks on the roads is a con of being stationed at Fort Cavazos.
High Crime Rate
I try to be positive on the blog and social media about the places where we’ve lived, but the crime rate in Killeen cannot be ignored.
On a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the safest, Killeen has a crime rate index of 17!
S E V E N T E E N.
According to multiple sources, the rate for every type of crime from murder to property crimes in Killeen is significantly higher than the national average. Your chances of being a victim of a crime in Killeen is about 1 in 13.
So, on the list of pros and cons of Fort Cavazos, the high crime rate is definitely on the con list.
The Bugs are Terrifying
The bugs are listed as a con on my Fort Bragg pros and cons list, but once again, Texas wins in the worst way.
Since moving into our house in Copperas Cove, we have had snakes, scorpions, a tarantula, and a giant centipede show up here. Not to mention multiple wasp nests and a colony of bees that made our walls their home.
Thankfully, we haven’t dealt with an infestation of any kind, but it isn’t uncommon for us to find a scorpion on the floor downstairs and wasp nests on the back porch.
The bugs aren’t a total deal breaker, but they definitely belong on the con list.
Hard to Find Decent & Affordable Rentals
This issue is certainly not specific to Fort Cavazos or Central Texas. However, due to the population growth that Texas is currently experiencing, the ability to find decent and affordable rental houses is nearly non-existent.
We had the unfortunate experience of PCSing to Fort Cavazos during the pandemic. It was our worst PCS to date. We were in a hotel for 54 days because finding a rental house was almost impossible. (We weren’t willing to buy with the state of the economy in that crazy year.)
To be clear, we were already on the wait-list for on-post housing, but it was MONTHS long.
To get a rental in that crazy year, we signed a lease and put a deposit on a house that we never got to walk through and the pictures online were from 2014!
It ended up about how you would imagine…the house had SEVERAL issues (leaky windows, exterior doors that didn’t shut/seal properly, a crack in the upstairs bathtub, a leaky roof in the garage, etc.). Thankfully, even with all of the issues, it was nothing that we couldn’t deal with.
Three years later, I still hear that people have a hard time finding rentals. It’s something to consider if you’re headed to Fort Cavazos.
According to payscale.com, the cost of living in Killeen is 7% below the national average. However, the price of utilities is 15% ABOVE the national average.
Our bills are higher here than anywhere else we have lived, including Florida.
The A/C runs all summer long and that’s when our electricity bill is usually the highest. However, we have had a few really high ones in the winter because of extended periods of freezing temperatures.
Our water bill isn’t bad and the internet bill is fair. But one bill that bothers me is the trash bill. In North Carolina, we paid $30-ish a month for trash pick-up. In Florida and Louisiana, it was free, but here in Texas, we pay $80 a month for trash pick-up! That’s outrageous to me but seems to be the going rate in this area.
In this list of pros and cons of Fort Cavazos, the high utility bills are certainly a con.
1st Cav is NOT Family-Friendly
We heard negative things about my husband’s unit before we got here. But we have heard negative things about other units before and then had a good experience, so we kept an open mind.
Unfortunately, everything we heard was true.
My husband was gone on a European rotation for 9 months. Less than a month before it ended, I fell down the stairs and broke my back. Yet, he was not allowed to come home. I had 2 young kids and was unable to get around and he still was not allowed to come home because it wasn’t a ‘life-threatening’ injury.
There were men on that rotation whose children were born back home and they were only given 7 days of paternity leave, instead of the 3 weeks that they are entitled to. However, the brigade commander went home for his child’s graduation.
So, it’s safe to say that the leadership is toxic in the sense of “rules for thee, but not for me.”
Also, Heff was gone last year for Lyvi’s birthday due to the rotation and he is missing it again this year because they are at NTC. It seems that there are constant trainings and reasons to be gone, more so than any other unit that he’s been in.
I definitely won’t be missing “Worst Cav” when we leave here.
(I won’t be missing that big yellow patch when we move. And look how much the girls grew in 9 months!)
Hard to Get Reservations at State Parks
Texas State Parks are absolutely beautiful and there are 25 of them within a 2.5-hour drive of Fort Cavazos!
That sounds great, but what we didn’t realize is that you have to make reservations in advance even for a day pass, which is pretty difficult when all of your plans are dependent on the weather.
Typically, you can make reservations 2-3 weeks in advance, but some of the more popular parks fill up a month or more in advance. And if you want to reserve a campsite, you better make plans 4-5 months in advance!
It’s one of the more irritating things I’ve encountered here and a con in my book.
(The state parks here are beautiful, but getting a reservation can be a pain!)
For us, the cons of Fort Cavazos outweighed the pros.
Would we want to move back here and live forever? Definitely not.
But did we hate every single second here? Nope.
I fully believe in blooming where you’re planted and I did my best to enjoy our time here. Our Fort Cavazos and Texas Bucket List helped us make a lot of good memories traveling all over the state.
Unfortunately, ‘the Texas years’ were hard for us, but that doesn’t mean that your experience will be the same. You never know, you might absolutely love it here.