The Military Family’s Guide to Moving to Clarksville, TN
A complete guide for military families moving to Clarksville, TN
Received PCS orders for Fort Campbell? This our complete guide for Military Families moving to Clarksville, TN
Situated just south of the Kentucky border and an hour north of Nashville, Clarksville, Tennessee might just be one of the better kept secrets of the state. If you’re headed for Fort Campbell, odds are you’re discovering our corner of the world for the first time. We like to think that life off post in Clarksville offers our military families the best of both worlds: the closeness and security of small town America combined with big-city amenities. And with some of the lowest cost of living in the state, we’re downright affordable, too!
If you’ve recently received PCS orders for Fort Campbell, we’d love to offer you some good, ol’ fashioned Southern Hospitality. Whether you’re here for a few months, a few years or a lifetime, Clarksville will welcome you like family.
Named for Army veteran and 14th Governor of Tennessee, William Bowen Campbell, Fort Campbell is best known today as the home of the famous 101st Airborne Division (“The Screaming Eagles”). In addition to the army’s one and only Air Assault Division, the 5th Special Forces Group, the 52nd Ordnance Group and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (“Night Stalkers”) all call Fort Campbell home, and the base welcomes soldiers from across the country hoping to qualify for the prestigious Air Assault Badge after training at the Sabalauski Air Assault School.
Despite the impressive pedigree, Fort Campbell enjoys a reputation as one of the best Southern bases for family life. On post amenities include pools, splash parks and gyms to help keep families active and healthy. The Fort also offers a full slate of MWR and ACS activities for families, including annual Easter Egg Hunts and Trick or Treating. Or enjoy the bowling alley, golf course and movie theater on a regular weekend.
A visit to the PX might extend to the attached mall and food court and, of course, Starbucks,
Fort Campbell also boasts a truly unique location: straddling the Kentucky and Tennessee state lines, families stationed at Fort Campbell can choose to settle in the Bluegrass or the Volunteer State. Obviously, we’re biased, but we think the small town charm of Clarksville wins out every time. Why? Read on for all the reasons why the overwhelming majority of Fort Campbell families choose to call Clarksville, Tennessee home.
Nuts and Bolts of Life in Clarksville, TN
While Fort Campbell offers great quality of life for families living on post, you may prefer to explore your options off base. To help you make a decision, we’ve put together a comprehensive summary of the practical aspects of life in Clarksville. From traffic to schools to the weather, we’ve thought of everything!
Cost of Living in Clarksville, TN
When it comes to cost of living, Clarksville really can’t be beat – literally! With a cost of living index of 85.6, Clarksville residents enjoy the lowest overall cost of living in the entire state and a 14.4% decrease over the national average. One reason? Tennessee residents pay only sales tax. That’s right: if you opt to live off base in Clarksville – as opposed to over the state line in Kentucky – you’ll pay no state income taxes.
Even better – the biggest factor behind our low cost of living? Housing prices. Whether you plan to rent or purchase, you’ll enjoy a favorable real estate market priced below the average – nationally or in Tennessee. Median home prices hover around $231 thousand, a whopping 48% less than our near neighbor to the south, Nashville. And you can rest assured your investment will pay off. In fact, overall housing costs for homeowners are almost 65% lower in Clarksville than the rest of Tennessee. Property appreciation in Clarksville over the last ten years has held steady at 7%.
Looking to rent? Clarksville’s competitive market works in your favor. Whether you’re in the market for a studio apartment or a three bedroom house, high turnover rates and a sizable student population mean you’ll pay about $300 less than the national average per month.
Choosing a Neighborhood in Clarksville, TN
For families living off post, Clarksville offers a number of attractive locations close to Fort Campbell and its amenities. The Tiny Town area, also sometimes referred to by the less poetic Exit 1 is just five minutes from the Fort’s, making it popular with military families. Unfortunately, traffic in this area can get tricky around rush hour, so plan accordingly.
Fort Campbell Boulevard leads, not surprisingly, directly to the main gate, making it another popular option for those who prefer to live off base. One thing to note: much of the available housing in this area consists of apartments, so you may need to look elsewhere if you intend to rent or purchase a standalone dwelling. For those in the market for a house, or even a bit of land, we’d suggest having a look around Sango or Exit 11. Technically outside of Clarksville, these areas put you about 30 minutes from Fort Campbell, but a bit closer to Nashville.
Working in Clarksville, TN
If you’re reading this guide, odds are you’re on active duty or married to someone who is – thanks for your service! – so it probably comes as no surprise to you that Fort Campbell is the area’s largest employer. As a result, the city enjoys an admirably low unemployment rate of around 6% and a steadily expanding economy. Experts predict future job growth of around 37% over the next ten years, well above the national average of 33.5%.
Besides Fort Campbell, the city is home to several larger employers, including Trane Company, Convergys Corporation and Bridgestone, all of which have their headquarters in Clarksville. In the private sector, Retail,Government, Manufacturing and Hospitality comprise the majority of new jobs.
Climate in Clarksville, TN
Despite its location in the Southern half of the United States, residents of Clarksville enjoy a temperate climate all year round. Summers are pleasantly warm, with an average high temperature of 89.4 in July, while winters are comparatively mild. Newcomers joining us from the far North will appreciate our January low of 26.5 degrees – that’s a full five degrees higher than the national average.
We do receive slightly more rain than the rest of the country, thanks to our location in the Nashville Basin, we also have more sunny days per year than the national average at 210.
And for those wishing for a white Christmas, Clarksville you covered, even if only for a few days. Snow doesn’t tend to stick around long here, though we do see it most years in December. Another special Clarksville experience? Leaf peeping! That’s right, we’re one of the few places in the Southern U.S. where you can appreciate vibrant fall foliage in the autumn months of September and October.
Overall, Clarksville receives a comfort index rating of 7.3 out of 10. With sun in the summer, light snow in the winter and crisp, cool climate in the fall, we can’t say we’re surprised.
Getting Around in Clarksville, TN
Like most places in the United States, Clarksville is a city of drivers: about 87% of the population commutes to work by car. Fortunately, the average drive time tops out at around 23 minutes. (If you’re arriving in Clarksville after a stint at, say, Fort McNair, then hopefully this comes as a relief!) And while congestion has been on the rise in recent years, local government initiatives designed to improve traffic flow and expand infrastructure are underway and set for completion in the coming 36 months.
To get to Fort Campbell from Clarksville, most drivers will opt for one of the two main highways on either the east or west side of the city. Follow US-41A up the west side of Clarksville for 11 miles and you’ll arrive in 20 minutes with moderate traffic. If you’re closer to the east side of town, hop on I-24W and drive for 16 miles. Assuming normal traffic, you’ll spend 20 minutes in the car.
For those who prefer to travel by public transportation, the Clarksville Transit System offers easy access to the entire city, via a fleet of clean, well-maintained buses and private shuttles for the disabled. Routes include direct service to high-traffic areas, including Fort Campbell, Governor Square Mall and Industrial Park. The city also recently added a free downtown shuttle service to make commuting easier. Visitors to the downtown area can now park at two select locations and catch the free shuttle into the city center, eliminating the need to hunt for a space on crowded streets.
Affordable fares make public transit an attractive option for getting around. Adults pay just $1.50 per trip or $4.00 for an unlimited use day pass. Children under four ride for free, as do senior citizens, and students enjoy a .50 discount.
Schools in Clarksville, TN
Clarksville takes pride in educating the next generation of leaders and patriots and has a strong commitment to quality public education options. The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System includes 42 schools serving 36,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. In addition to 23 elementary schools, 7 middle schools and 7 high schools, the district offers a K-5 magnet school, a technical school, an alternative school and a middle college (in partnership with Austin Peay University).
Parents can also choose from amongst several private educational options at the K-12 level, as well as Charter Schools. Between Little Scholars Montessori, Clarksville Christian School, Clarksville Academy and Immaculate Conception School, options abound.
For military spouses and veterans aiming to round out their education or pursue an advanced degree, Clarksville has everything you need At the post-secondary level, the city welcomes students from around the state at Austin Peay State University – Go Governors! Community colleges and technical schools serving the area include the Daymar Institute and Miller-Motte Technical College, while North Tennessee Bible Institute and Nashville State Community College round out the offerings for advanced education.
Having Fun in Clarksville
Now that we’ve covered all the practical details, we’d love to share some of our favorite things about living here. Looking for great food? We’ve got that. Outdoor adventures? Yep, that too. No matter what your passion, Clarksville has something to offer you and your family. Some might say we’re a bit slow and sleepy compared to Nashville. We say they just haven’t hit the town with a local! (Though we’ll still include some Nashville attractions on this list. Who could resist the Grand Ole Opry?)
We’re the first to admit that Clarksville residents are true to their roots – we love us some fried food and lip smacking’ barbecue. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that’s all we crave. Thanks to our globe trotting veterans, active duty families and adventurous university students, you’ll find just about every kind of international cuisine.
- Best Southern Cuisine: It’s a toss up between Catfish House and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, though we can’t resist the occasional trip to Cracker Barrel.
- Best Burgers: We’re partial to The Choppin’ Block, but Kelly’s Big Burger comes in a close, ketchup-y second. (And we do want fries with that!)
- Best Seafood: Don’t be fooled by the name, Fox’s BBQ specializes in fried catfish and hushpuppies. For a more formal atmosphere, book a table at the Harbor Cafe. If you survived Fort Polk, but miss the cajun flavors, head over to Storming Crab Boil Cajun Seafood.
- Best Sushi: Kohana Sushi and Ramen never disappoints, while Fuji Yama offers diners a wide selection of original rolls and artul presentation.
- Best Brewpubs: Hands down, that’s Blackhorse Brewery, proudly brewed right here in Tennessee. Strawberry Alley Aleworks comes in a close second, though. (Try the fried green tomatoes.)
- Best International: When we have a hankering for pho, we head to Little Saigon. A taste of Europe? Silke’s Old World Breads has artisan loaves that make us long for cobbled streets and quaint cafes. Naru Korean BBQ offers a appealing twist on a familiar concept.
- Best Coffee: We love it. We need it. When we have to have it, we head over to Ravenwood Coffee and Creations, Plumb Line Coffee or Lasaters Coffee and Tea for our daily fix.
- Best Barbecue: If you’re new to this part of the world, you may need to do some additional research on this subject before forming an opinion. And Texans, we ask that you please keep an open mind. For our money, the absolute best BBQ in Clarksville can be found at Excell Grocery and BBQ. Don’t be fooled by the humble exterior – this joint is a local favorite and well-kept secret. Try the pulled pork at Whitt’s Barbecue or head south to Nashville to Edley’s Bar-B-Que for the brisket sandwich and banana pudding.
Phew! If you’re still hungry after sampling all Clarksville has to offer, then we’re sincerely impressed.
Hikers rejoice! 65.9 official miles of the Appalachian Trail pass through the State of Tennessee and are easily accessible by car from Clarksville. The state also boasts 500 scenic waterfalls, many of them tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains and Land Between the Lakes National Parks to the East.
More local options include the scenic Clarksville Greenway, which features walking and biking trails perfect for family outings, or the McGregor Park Riverwalk, known locally as a great place for photos. In summer, enjoy boating and water-sports on the Red River with boat and paddle boat rentals through Run-A-Muck Outfitters. Not for the faint of heart: flashlight tours of Dunbar Cave.
And no matter where you choose to settle in Clarksville, rest assured you’ll have a park, playground pool or splashpad nearby for the kids to enjoy. The City of Clarksville has over 619 from which to choose!
Arts and Culture
Head south to Nashville for a visit to the Frist Museum and its impressive collection of fine art. Prefer to stick around town? The Customs House Museum offers visitors a variety of exhibits, from fine art to a bubble cave, while the Downtown Artists Co-op features works by local creators for viewing and purchase.
Music fans will be spoiled for choice, between the bright lights of the big city and the more accessible options close to home. Catch a concert at the Roxy Regional Theater of the Starlight Grand to see your favorite local bands live, or head south to the hallowed stage of the Exit-In or the Grand Ole Opry itself.
Austin Peay State University also offers a host of cultural opportunities year round, from lectures to concerts to fine art exhibitions.
The Bottom Line
For servicemen and women and their families, change is one of the few constants in life. We understand that moving can be stressful, and consider it a privilege to assist our military families in settling in Clarksville. Our team appreciates the unique challenges and joys of military life, and we’re here to assist you in finding the best off post housing available. Contact us today to discover what Clarksville has to offer you.
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