Fort Knox is a great place to live with a ton of things to do in the area. The installation may be on the small side, but it has very important missions for the Army, including being home to Cadet Command and the Human Resources Command.
YOUR FORT KNOX AREA GUIDE
Fort Knox features the United States Bullion Depository, with rumors flying about what's really inside. The phrase "Gold Standard" is used to describe the installation in reference to the landmark, including their local post newspaper, The Gold Standard. The installation is over 100,000 acres and located in three of Kentucky's counties. Fort Knox is full of history, as the General Patton Museum on-post features information on Cadet Command, the installation, and Patton himself. Now let's dive into your new duty station then head over to PCSgrades.com to read reviews from other mil-fams for base housing, REALTORS, moving companies, and more.
FORT KNOX HOUSING
Fort Knox Soldiers and their families live on-post in various neighborhoods and apartment complexes. However, for those eligible to live off-post, most families elect to live in Radcliff or Elizabethtown. Elizabethtown is usually the top choice, though further from post, as it offers a local mall, a small town square, local and nationally recognized restaurants, and multiple plazas. For those open to a commute, some Soldiers opt to live in Louisville. There are a ton of carpool options for Soldiers and DA Civilians that work on post and live in Louisville.
ON POST HOUSING
Fort Knox on base housing is managed by Winn Companies and consists of 2, 3, and 4 bedroom floor-plans. The housing is pet friendly and there are multiple playgrounds and a splash park. On PCSgrades.com an Army spouse says "We loved living in the Clarke neighborhood. The homes were older but nicely maintained." Read the full review of Fort Knox Housinghere.
ON POST AMENITIES
Fort Knox has a ton of amenities as well, including an on-post mini waterpark, putt-putt golf course, and bowling alley. There are also four schools, with over 1,500 students. Fort Knox has a commissary, PX, and military clothing and sales store too. The installation also has two hotels on post and a wide-range of food options, including Samuel Adams Brewhouse, Taco Bell, Burger King, Starbucks, Subway, and much more.
OFF POST HOUSING
There are some nice neighborhoods near post and Elizabethtown is only 15 minutes away though with traffic it can be more like 30. Brandenburg and Vine Grove are both popular places to live and Doe Valley is a exceptionally great gated community with a lot of great amenities such as a golf course, camp ground, lake, and marina.
BAH AND COST OF LIVING
The best part about the Fort Knox area is the low cost of living. A two-bedroom apartment in the area can cost around $600-$700, depending on where you decide to live. Houses can be rented for very little and the cost of buying a home is very reasonable. Need some help deciding whether to rent or buy? Let us help you weigh your options.
FORT KNOX WEATHER
I grew up in the Fort Drum region, so I thought moving to Fort Knox and so far away from home to "the south" would mean warmth! I was very wrong! We have a saying in Kentucky where if you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes. That is very true here. For one, the rain in Kentucky is insane. It doesn't usually last long, especially in the summer, but it's a downpour compared to back home. While it doesn't snow as much here, it does get very very cold (don't throw away your winter coat like I did for this move !). In December or January, you're seeing lows on average around 27 to 30 degrees, although I woke up most mornings to about 17 or 18 degrees. It's not very consistent, however, as one Christmas here was in the 70s! In June and July, the highs are on average around 85 to 90 degrees. Spring and fall in Fort Knox are normally nice, with outdoor patios opening back up around late March or early April. The thing I've learned about the weather in Kentucky is that it's hard to predict, so be prepared for anything!
CULTURE AND CUSTOMS
Kentucky Derby is in May. This is a huge event for the Fort Knox region and a big tradition. Many have "watching parties" at their homes to avoid the crowds or attend the Derby themselves. Thunder Over Louisville is at the beginning of the celebrations, with a huge firework show over the city. The weeks leading up to Derby also include a hot air balloon event, half marathons, a steamboat race down the river, and a parade.
Blues & Barbecue Festival – Louisville, Kentucky in July. Great food and music that celebrate Blues music.
Kentucky State Fair – Louisville, Kentucky in August. The Kentucky fair has concerts, fair rides, and a ton of vendors indoors to escape the heat!
Kentucky Bourbon Festival – Bardstown, Kentucky in September. This festival is a local favorite, but attended by the stars! You never know who you might see!
James Court Art Show – Louisville, Kentucky in October. This is a great event if you enjoy art!
The Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich, was invented at the historic Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville. The sandwich is famous in the region and around the country.
Bourbon is a huge part of Kentucky. Louisville and the surrounding cities are filled with distilleries and bourbon tours. The Bourbon Trail is a must if you're interested in the history of bourbon in the state.
Louisville is located approximately 45 minutes away from Fort Knox. It is the place to go on the weekends for festivals, concerts, and kid-friendly events.
Nashville is approximately 2.5 hours away from Fort Knox. This country music city makes for a great overnighter or weekend trip. Check out the bars downtown and listen to live music, go on a celebrity home tour, or check out the Grand Ole Opry!
Cincinnati is a family friendly day-trip or quick overnighter. It is home to the Cincinnati Zoo and the Newport Aquarium. Don't forget to visit the ITR office for discount tickets! Cincinnati is a little over 2 hours away, depending on traffic.
St. Louis is about four hours away from Fort Knox, but offers spectacular adventures for a family weekend get-away. Visit the Gateway Arch or if you travel with your pet (like I do!), bring Fido to The Museum of the Dog, which allows you to bring your dogs into the art museum.
Indianapolis is approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Fort Knox and a great weekend get-away close to home. Visit the Indiana State Fairgrounds during your visit, there is always some sort of event happening there. On your way home (or there!), take a detour to Nashville, Indiana, my favorite American small town for a taste of local flavor.
Fort Duffield is in West Point, Kentucky, approximately 20-minutes from Fort Knox. The Civil War site has a cemetery at the top of the hill, along with log cabins. The fort has reenactments on-location that are worth the visit. The site provides a quick, but rigorous walk to the top and spectacular views. Saunders Springs is located right off one of the Fort Knox gates. It is easy to spot, with log cabins surrounding the entrance. Once on the trails, hikers are taken to a small waterfall and even a cave (not open to the public). Bridges to the Past and Tioga Falls are at the end of a long road just a bit past West Point, Kentucky. Go left and you'll walk on a paved road over small bridges alongside a creek, called Bridges to the Past. Go right and you'll hike through the woods leading to a waterfall, called Tioga Falls. This land is owned by Fort Knox and closed at some points, so double check before visiting.
The famous designer of Central Park in New York City, Frederick Law Olmsted, was commissioned to design 18 parks and six parkways in Louisville. Cherokee Park is one that is perfect for walking your dog, a run, or meeting with friends.
Other parks closer to Fort Knox that are worth a visit include Freeman Lake, which offers very inexpensive kayak, canoe, paddle boat, and stand-up paddle board rentals in the warmer months. Also, during summer months, Freeman Lake hosts free outdoor kids movie nights for the community.
Camp Carlson is owned by Fort Knox and located off-post. The 65-acre land is a campground available to the military community, as well as offers fishing and playground areas.
21c Museum and Hotel is an art lover's paradise. Attached to a hotel, with a bar and restaurant, visitors can walk the museum with their drinks and view artwork on multiple floors. The museum is free and a great date night option.
The Kentucky Derby Museum is a horse racer's dream. The museum is beautiful with a free tour of the facility, plus some paid behind-the-scenes tours worth the extra cost. They also have an incredible 360-degree video that is absolutely worth the visit.
Frazier History Museum is a small, but interactive museum in Louisville. One wing features the Kentucky Prohibition, while the other is a kid-friendly Lewis and Clark Expedition wing. Lewis and Clark started their journey on the Ohio River, with their starting point only a few miles from the museum.
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.
Yeah! You got orders to (insert foreign country overseas)! You can already picture your kids in the international school, speaking with cute little accents and wearing local garments. Adorbs. You've got your housing picked out, adventures planned and passport photos taken. You're ready for your epic move ... except for that 13 hour plane ride. Have you wrapped your head around that yet? Before you grab for a paper bag and start hyperventilating, use our travel hacks to help make the emotional turbulence you're experiencing a little lighter.
We've all said it: "We'll drive. It won't be that bad." We picture the adventure, the memories, the nostalgia of car trips when we were younger.
But if we're really being honest with ourselves, think back to those car trips. Someone was crying. Someone was puking. Someone was whining. That person very well may have been your poor mother. True story, my mom once got out and walked along the highway when all six of us kids wouldn't stop fighting. A long car trip can be daunting, but with our tips and tricks they don't need to be.
WE ALL HAVE OUR SHARE OF HORROR STORIES WHEN IT COMES TO MILITARY MOVING!
Name the most disgusting item erroneously packed by your movers… for me it was used coffee grounds and of course, trash. For others, I've heard everything from wet towels to dirty diapers. I've caught movers raiding my fridge, lounging on my mattress in my front yard, and throwing out items that they've broken. Raise your hand (or have a drink) if you ever had packers show up late (or not at all). Ever had packers get into a shouting match among themselves as they were packing your china? Or have you caught your movers throwing boxes down the stairs to the basement? That would be me!
With each military move, there are "lessons learned". For instance, I won't go into great detail but let's just say after watching one packer go directly from using the restroom back to packing my kitchen without washing his hands, we now use gigantic ziplock bags to "pre-pack" all my kitchen utensils. A packers' bare flesh has never again touched one of my kitchen utensils.
My family's last military move was by far the shortest, only 1½ miles up the road. We were moving from a rental to a home we purchased. It was by far the worst in terms of damage and overall angst. I think because we were only "moving up the road" the pack job left a lot to be desired. I found one box of dishes which had not one piece of wrapping paper! Instead two throw pillows from my family room were used as a buffer! Amazingly, nothing was broken! Go figure!
When I heard glass shatter in the moving truck, I asked one of the guys what shattered.
There are any number of reasons why in a given situation renting might be better than buying or vice versa. For military families, it might make more sense to buy at one duty station and then rent at the next. Up for consideration with each PCS is whether to buy or rent, to stay on-base or off. In making these decisions, there are numerous pros and cons to consider.
PROS TO BUYING
- Purchasing the right home can be a great financial investment that can grow in value over time.
- Tax deductions such as mortgage interest and property taxes can greatly reduce your overall income tax burden if you itemize.
- Being a homeowner can give you pride of ownership and a sense of stability, rare in the military life which can seem nomadic at times.
- A mortgage payment that is lower than your BAH can result in a boost to your savings.
- You can decorate however you want! Goodbye white walls! Hello, Color!
- Anyone can stay with you at any time. So it is not a problem when your Mom or sister comes for an extended stay during a deployment or following a PCS.
- You can do (almost) whatever you want….host a late night party, plant a garden, knock a wall down!
- There are no security or pet deposits when you buy a home.
- You have the opportunity to become a landlord when military orders arrive and you have to move. Your home can become an investment property, providing a source of income which can partially or totally offset your mortgage, taxes, and insurance payments.
While retired military Space A travel is a privilege, there are some retirees that do not have this privilege. There are different categories of retirees, some are eligible for Space A and some are not. But there are efforts to change the eligibility requirements.
For a retiree to be eligible for Space A travel they must possess a 'Blue' DD Form 2 (Military ID card). This includes those that are medically retired. Their dependents are also allowed to travel with them and must bring along their ID cards. All dependents should be enrolled in DEERS.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR RETIRED MILITARY SPACE A TRAVEL?
There are plenty of rumors out there saying that ALL retirees are eligible. This is not true. If you are 100% disabled and you only possess a DD Form 1173, or the new DD Form 2765 ID cards, you are not entitled to travel on Space A. Also, if you possess the brown ID card with DAVPRM (Disabled Veteran Permanent) in the bottom right, then you too are not entitled to retired military space a travel Space A travel privileges.
Dependents of retirees are not allowed to travel without the retiree. If the retiree dies, then the dependents no longer have Space A privileges.
If you are a member of the Guard or Reserves with a 'Red" DD Form 2 you can travel through CONUS (Continental United States), to, from, and between Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. Also, if you are active duty for more than 30 consecutive days, Guardsmen and Reservists may fly anywhere that Space A flies.
Dependents of the Guard and Reserves are not authorized to fly on Space A until the member reaches the age of 60. At that time, they will be in the same category as a regular retiree, Category 6. Retired Guardsmen and Reservists who have completed their 20 years but are not old enough to collect their retired pay are considered to be in a "gray area".
AN ACT OF CONGRESS
There have been attempts to change the eligibility of all of the above retirees and dependents.
The first Bill to be submitted to the House of Representatives was House Bill 4164 aka Space-Available Act of 2012. This bill sought to authorize the Secretary of Defense to establish a program to provide transportation on Department of Defense (DOD) aircraft on a space-available basis for (1) active duty and reserve members holding a valid Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card; (2) retired members who, but for not attaining age 60, would be eligible for military retired pay; (3) an un-remarried widow or widower of an active or reserve member; and (3) certain dependents of members described above. Allows the Secretary to establish an order of priority based on considerations of military needs and readiness.
This Bill was sent to the Subcommittee on Readiness in March of 2012 where it has sat with no action.
Earlier this year, a measure to establish a space-available transportation priority for veterans of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as total was introduced in the house. That bill HR 936 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Readiness.
HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD
How can you help? Write your Congressman. Make your voice known.
The Gray Area Retirees Facebook group was created to talk about these problems and to try to get the changes implemented.
Space-A eligibility is sometimes confusing and false information is passed around often. Check out the resources in this article for any updates.
PCSgrades.com is a review platform for military and veteran families. Leave a review of your prior duty station and read the reviews of where you are PCSing to. Home is where the military sends us and together we can make a difference!
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.