Some military stations are great for families, and others not so much. Safety, fun activities, and a family-oriented community are good things to look for as a service member with a family in tow. Here are some of the best and worst military towns for families keeping in mind those qualifications.
Our Top 3 include Quantico, VA, Fort Carson, CO, and Tacoma, WA. Here’s what you can look forward to in each of those installations.
Marine Corps Base Quantico is among the top spots to land as a military family. For one, safety here is off the charts. Violent crime in this town is practically non-existent. Plus, their Military and Family Support Center provides things like personal and family life education, a Family Advocacy Program, and a New Parent Support Program. Being just 35 miles from Washington DC puts you close to plenty of fun and free family-friendly activities.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Fort Carson is located in the gorgeous Colorado Springs, Colorado. Not only is this town known for its safety, but it is also a beautiful and active place to live with a family. It’s in the Rocky Mountains, so outdoor activities for all ages are available for year-round entertainment. There are beautiful parks, hiking, skiing, and more. The public schools are top-of-the-line as well. Fort Carson also offers excellent child and youth services with youth sports, in-home child care, online tutoring programs, and more.
Tacoma, Washington is home to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a well-known family-friendly base for all kinds of reasons. First of all, the base offers excellent medical care, family events, and child care programs. The town is in a stunning location near the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, Seattle, and the Puget Sound. The outdoor family activities can include the mountains, the water, and the city too.
Ranking in the Bottom 3 of our list includes Minot, ND, Leesvile, LA, and El Paso, TX.
Minot, North Dakota
Minot Air Force Base in Minot, North Dakota is not the most ideal installment if you are bringing your family. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and that rural environment doesn’t provide much in the way of fun things for families to do. Plus, it’s close to the Canadian border, so for a good part of the year, expect cold and crummy weather. The average winter temperature in Minot does not usually exceed the low teens.
Leesville, Louisiana, will be your new home if you’re a soldier stationed at Fort Polk. Unfortunately, while the base housing is decent, the region is not a great place to bring your family. The only proper towns even remotely close are Lake Charles and Alexandria, though each is around an hour away. In the immediate vicinity, family-friendly activities are hard to find. The swampy humid weather is not ideal, nor are the bugs it attracts.
El Paso, Texas
Fort Bliss is in El Paso, Texas, a border town with Mexico famed for its high crime rates. If you cross the border into Mexico, you’ll find yourself in Juarez. Juarez is even worse, with one of the highest murder rates per capita globally. These stats make it easy to see why service members don’t love bringing their families to this installment. Fort Bliss tries to make up for its less-than-ideal location by having the largest Exchange in the entire Army directly on base. So, if all else fails, you can always bring the kids to the mall.
Of course, this list is wildly subjective. Just like everything else about the military. Seasoned spouses and lifers will tell you that it has less to do with where you are and more to do with how you spend your time. So no matter if you’re heading to Bliss or Carson, do your best to make the most of it.