1. Avoid the Army Post Traffic
For the military members of Fort Hood’s community, Army traffic is unavoidable. But for the rest of the community not already intimately knowledgeable about the post’s hours and traffic patterns, it is a good idea to brush up, or you will find yourself stuck on W. S. Young forever trying to get to the mall.
The times to avoid being out and about if possible is before and after PRT (Physical Readiness Training, or just the more often used “PT”), during Army lunch, and when post lets out.
Before – After PT: Avoid 0530-0630 (5:30 – 6:30 AM) and 0800-0930 (8:00 – 9:00 AM).
Lunch: Avoid 1130-1300 (11:30 AM to 1:00 PM).
Post Close: 1700 (5:00 PM) MON-WED, FRI
Post Close: 1500 (3:00 PM) THU
Thursday at 3 PM is an early day for “Phantom Warrior Family Time”, and is the worst time to be on the roads any given week. Unlike other days when Soldiers may leave o/a (on or around) 1700, Soldiers are forced to go home at 3:00 PM on Thursdays (though it is not as strictly enforced as it once was). Therefore, the traffic is a heapin’ hot mess on 3:00 PM Thursdays.
A recent massive expansion of Hwy 190, adding the Rosewood exit, expanding W S Young, Knights Way, Stagecoach and Hwy 195 have all helped with the traffic congestion. But it won’t change how busy the area is when the Soldiers come off post.
2. Don’t Get Stuck on Living “Close” to Post
As an agent and property manager, I run into a lot of buyers and tenants who want to live “close to post”. Unless you lack a car, just about everywhere in Killeen is “close to post”. Yowell Ranch, for example, is an up and coming neighborhood on Killeen’s SE side that is about as far from post as you can get within the city limits of Killeen. Driving, with traffic, it is about 20 minutes away.
Harker Heights is really no farther. I think you could comfortably get from Briarwood Estates on the far east side of Harker Heights to post in 20 minutes. Even Nolanville is all a short hop to Hwy 190 / Central Texas Expressway and … 20 minutes to post.
If you want to live outside an “Army town” around “regular people”, then your closest options might be Belton/Temple or Lampasas, though even there you will see ACUs with some frequency. Getting even further away is Georgetown, Round Rock, Leander or Cedar Park – all closer to Austin and about a 45 minutes to 1 hr drive from post.
I wouldn’t recommend going that far unless it is extremely important to you. But in general, getting stuck on being close to post is going to severely and unnecessarily limit your home options.
3. Don’t Get Haircuts on Sundays
Sundays are the worst days for getting haircuts, as Soldiers are getting a last trim after the weekend and reporting early to PT the next morning.
4. Don’t be surprised by the BOOMs!
You’re not likely to live far away enough to not hear it on occasion. Thunder. Or, Steel Rain, more accurately. Artillery. Even as large as the Fort Hood training area is, the artillery won’t be far enough away that you won’t hear its gentle rumble from time to time. In my own experience, it’s never been louder than distant thunder, reasonably infrequent, and entirely tolerable. Even areas as far as Temple/Belton hear the artillery, rolling in over the Belton Lake from the Fort Hood training ground.
5. Think Outside the Fort Hood Area
There is a lot of hot and cold, love and hate for Killeen among military and non-military alike. Killeen is a relatively large town for a military base, and it will definitely have all your essentials with a serviceable mall, lots of chain dining, 3 Wal Marts, 2 HEBs, a Convention Center and quality movie theaters. But it may not have everything you want, be it shopping or outdoor activities or culture.
Do not fear. You are in Central Texas, of which Killeen is a tiny part. You are an hour away from the world-renowned Austin night life and music scene, the Round Rock shopping outlets, the scenic Texas Hill Country with its rolling burgeoning vineyards and plentiful lakes, or Waco museums. If you can’t find what you need there, the overflowing cornucopia within the metropolises of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are all within three hours’ drive.
Other suggestions or tips for would-be Fort Hooders? Please share in the comments below!