Almost eleven years ago, our family flew into Nashville and started the Fort Campbell chapter of our lives. While my husband got out of active duty in 2014, he joined the National Guard, and we stayed put here in Clarksville, TN. I have now lived here longer than anywhere else besides where I grew up.
If you just found out you are going to be stationed at Fort Campbell, congratulations! While I can’t guarantee what type of experience you will have here, you can have an excellent one. Not everyone likes Ft. Campbell, some people hate Ft. Campbell, but others love the place and plan to stay here long term.
I get commissions for purchases made through some of the links in this post.
So if you plan to move here soon, here are just a few things to know about being stationed at Fort Campbell:
1. Fort Campbell is on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, literally
Fort Campbell is literally on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Being from California, which is such a huge state, going out of state still seems so funny to me, and yet, here, I do it all the time. If you have a baby at Fort Campbell, their birth certificate says, “Fort Campbell, Tennessee” even though that doesn’t exist. Officially, Fort Campbell is considered in Kentucky, but some of the military post is actually on the Tennesse side of the line.
2. Don’t listen to people who say there is nothing to do; there is plenty to do
Often I hear that there is nothing to do here. Not true. There is plenty to do. I think what they mean is that there is not a lot of big-city things to do which is true, but I will talk about that in #3.
They also might not have kids. I could see feeling that way if you didn’t have kids, maybe. But between the post and the local communities, there is always something going on. And they keep adding more and more things to do. Of course, during COVID, many things are limited.
3. Don’t expect big city life, you will need to head to Nashville for that
Growing up in Southern California, this place seems a lot less exciting. So for people who are used to that, it can feel like this is a small town. I think I have gotten used to that, but I know it can be frustrating for others. Luckily, Nashville is just about 45 minutes to an hour away, and they have a lot going on.
There are a lot of chains here, from Target to Starbucks to Dollar General, which they seem to have everywhere. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing local to enjoy, there is. There are restaurants and stores that you can’t find anywhere else. I am a big fan of Miss Lucille’s Marketplace which is an indoor antique mall with a small cafe.
4. Housing is a toss-up
I have never lived on post at Fort Campbell, but I have visited friends that have over the years. I think housing is overall a toss-up. Some places seem pretty nice, are close to Starbucks and parks. Other neighborhoods seem more lacking. It just depends.
5. Traffic sucks
If you try to go to the mall at 2 pm on a Saturday, good luck. That is probably the worst time of day for traffic around here. And when traffic is bad, it is very very bad.
Traffic gets even worse when it snows. Yikes! And this is not a very walkable area either. You also might live five minutes from post, and it can take you 30 minutes to get home because everyone is trying to do the same thing.
6. The weather is crazy
We have hot and “don’t want to go outside” humidity in the summer, we have rain and tornado season in the fall and especially in the spring, and winter is all over the place. We had a snow week in January, but also 65-degree weather just a few weeks later. A couple of days ago things felt like spring around here, and I found snow on my car this morning. Fun times.
As far as the snow goes, if you are from California, Hawaii, or Florida, it snows a lot. If you are from New England, Minnesota, or Alaska, you might wonder why everyone is freaking out. The whole city might shut down with just an inch, make sure to stock up on your bread and milk.
7. You can buy a house for under $200K
Coming from California, housing here is really cheap. You could easily find a home for under $200k, and if you have $300K to spend, you are looking at an amazing house. One of the main reasons we stay.
8. Everything you need on post is pretty close
The nice thing about Fort Campbell is that everything the military family needs is pretty close. From the PX to the Commissary to most of the housing. It’s all right there. Which makes getting from place to place much easier.
Off post is a completely different story. Clarksville is pretty spread out which I am still not used to even after all this time. I wish things were a little bit closer together.
9. You can live in Kentucky or Tennesee, your pick
If you decide to live off post at Fort Campbell, you can choose whether you want to live in Kentucky or Tennessee. Most people do pick Clarksville to live in, but some enjoy living in Oak Grove or Hopkinsville in Kentucky. There are plenty of options for off post living here.
10. They need more bookstores
This whole area needs more bookstores. That is my personal rant. We do have a Books-a-Million which actually has a great selection and a lot of amazing deals. But adding another one, plus another library would be great.
If you do get orders to Fort Campbell, do some research on housing, look into things to do and know you can have a pretty amazing experience here if you want.