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Your Fort Knox Area Guide

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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.

FESTIVALS

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!

LOCAL CUISINE

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.

AREA ATTRACTIONS

LOUISVILLE

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

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

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

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

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.

HIKING

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.

PARKS

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.

MUSEUMS

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.

Stephanie Wade/U.S. Transportation Command

In military life, there is really nothing more stressful than a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Deployments are a close second, but a PCS takes the cake. Combine a PCS with a deployment and not only do you want to eat all of the proverbial cake, you want to guzzle copious amounts of wine, too. We see you. Cheers.

One company, PCSgrades, is trying to make the PCS process feel more like a three-letter acronym than a four-letter expletive. Founded by veteran Todd Ernst, PCSgrades is the epitome of the military community taking care of its own. "PCSing has an emotional connotation," said Ernst. "We use it as an adverb, adjective, a noun and even as a cuss word."

Ernst started PCSgrades in 2015 after seeing friends struggle with unethical real estate agents and being taken advantage of by moving companies who knew DoD would be a paying customer no matter how poorly the companies treated their clients - us.

Here are 4 resources PCSgrades provides that you need to make moving easier:

1. Housing reviews

Does it get any more stressful than finding out where you're going to be stationed, Googling base housing at that station and getting results from 15 years ago (if you find anything, at all)? Nope, no it doesn't.

PCSgrades is changing the game on that by having military families who live in an area provide honest, candid reviews of their housing so incoming families can benefit. With reviews of both on and off base locations, families can finally get the truth about housing, whether it has black mold or the best views in town.

2. Moving company reviews

Great, you've figured out where to live; that's half the battle. The other, larger, more complex half? Figuring out how your stuff is going to get there. Knowing someone else will be handling your personal property and driving away with it for the foreseeable future is stressful enough. But not knowing what that company's background is, well that's a whole different ball game.

PCSgrades has countless reviews of moving companies provided by military families who have used them. Let's be honest: You wouldn't try a new Chinese delivery place without looking at reviews … why should picking a moving company be any different?

3. Area guides

The giant Google machine can only get you so far in life when you're researching your new duty station. We know you're busy and you want one-stop shopping on the interwebs. What you really need is aggregate data of things like schools to attend, restaurants to try, day trips to take and neighborhoods to avoid.

Introducing Area Guides, which offer exactly that: a holistic view of where you're moving and what to do once you get there. The best part? These are written by military families who have done it, for military families who are doing it.

4. Network of realtors and resources

PCSgrades has a nationwide network of A-graded realtors who know and understand the military and veteran lifestyle. Many of the realtors are veterans or spouses themselves, which takes the empathy to a whole new level. Having a realtor who gets the pressures of PCSing and the challenges of a military move is key to finding the right home for your family.

"I have friends who are hundreds of thousands of dollars upside down after bad home choices," Ernst said. "Housing choices can be pretty limited. Our moves are way more expensive than the typical civilian move." This is why Ernst created a way to alleviate the pain points for military families through PCSgrades.

In addition to a network of realtors, PCSgrades partners with "HomeScout," which allows you to search up-to-date home listings nationwide. Simply create an account with PCSgrades and the realty world is your oyster.

Whether you're looking for a new neighborhood, trying to find a vetted realtor, need a PCS checklist (let's be honest, is it on your radar to look at the expiration date of your military ID card two months before you PCS? Yeah, we know the truth; download the checklists here), or you're just wanting to know more about where you're heading, PCSgrades is making moving easier for every military family. Pay it forward by leaving reviews and be sure to take advantage of their excellent resources, today.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

7 airplane travel hacks with kids

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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.

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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.

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Nordwood theme, Unsplash

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!

LESSONS LEARNED

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.

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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.
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