I looked down at my orders that day, and there it was: Ft. Bragg, NC! I was ecstatic. It was a new place to work, a new type of job, new people to meet and make friends with, new places to explore, and a new place to live.
When a service member and his or her family find out they are PCSing soon, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Where are we going to live?!” It is critical to find a place to live that meets all the requirements. We need to know things like the budget, distance to work, quality of the schools, things to do in the community, and conditions of the houses/condos/townhomes.
A lot of factors play into why people choose to live where they live. What you will find below is a list of places to live around Fort Bragg depending on your needs. This list is certainly not all inclusive, but will serve as a good launching pad for your quest for the perfect military communities near Fort Bragg.
Commute: 10-20 minutes
When I arrived at Fort Bragg, I was completely unaware of the different communities or what made them great. Of course I did my research beforehand, like any good planner, but until you see the ground, or in this case the town/community, you don’t know what you are walking into. So I naturally chose Fayetteville since it was the largest city (I consider myself a city person), and it had the shortest commute to work. Plus, it allowed me to have a launching point to check out the rest of the surrounding areas (less than two hours to the beach!) and figure out where I wanted to live in the future.
Perfect for: Families that want a short commute to work and need to be close to Ft. Bragg for the commissary, hospital, etc. Also, while shopping is limited in most areas around Fort Bragg, Fayetteville is the most built up with shopping and other services you may need.
Not ideal for: Country living and a slower pace.
Southern Pines, Aberdeen and Pinehurst
Commute: 35-45 minutes respectively
I could have broken out each of these areas into its own community, but the great thing about living in any of these three areas is the 10-minute drive to the other two! Southern Pines is a charming small town west of Fort Bragg that has a quaint downtown. Aberdeen is a smaller community with a cute downtown area just to the south. Pinehurst is 10 minutes west of the former two areas that originally started as a golfing resort and has grown into a family-friendly community with many young families and vacationers alike.
Perfect for: Single service members who want a small town feel. Golfers. Young families that want lots of activities for their children. And a beautiful drive to work every morning through the pine trees.
Not Ideal for: Service members and families that want to be close to Ft. Bragg with a short drive every day, and need to be near some of the bigger communities that have more choices.
Whispering Pines, Vass and Cameron
Commute: 45 minutes
The area of Whispering Pines, Vass and Cameron is to some extent an extension of the Southern Pines, Aberdeen and Pinehurst area. It boasts great parks, nice golf courses and the Moore County Regional Airport. Vass, which is just north of Whispering Pines off U.S. 1, is smaller and known for its antiques. Cameron has some great and affordable housing choices for larger families that need more space, both inside and outside the house.
Perfect for: Families with school-age children, as Whispering Pines boasts some of the best schools in the area. Also, being a farther out, things are a little slower with small country stores and boutique downtowns.
Not ideal for: Those looking for lots of dining options close to home.
Commute: 20-25 minutes
If you come out of the Honeycutt or Butner Gates on the east side of Fort Bragg and head north, you will find yourself in Spring Lake. Spring Lake is close to Bragg, close to Fayetteville and less than an hour to the outskirts of Raleigh.
Perfect for: Short commutes, weekend trips, and nearby lakes, parks and trails. Most noteworthy is the affordable housing with lots of options.
Not ideal for: Single service members looking for a vibrant night life.
Commute: 30 minutes
Life is a little slower down in the agricultural community of Raeford. A lot of families enjoy living there due its slower pace, good sized lots and plots of land, and space between neighbors. Some of the benefits of living in a rural community include no traffic and fewer people. Plus, you can get fresh produce straight from the source. Several farms in the area have pick-your-own-produce days for things like strawberries and tomatoes. And because of the light traffic, it’s an easy shot straight to the Chicken Road Gate on Fort Bragg every morning!
Perfect for: Families with young kids who want their living space and enjoy cooking their own hand-picked produce.
Not ideal for: Single service members, families who eat out a lot, or city dwellers.
Commute: 45+ minutes
Nestled right off of U.S. Highway 1 between Raleigh and Southern Pines is Sanford. Sanford boasts a great location in the middle of the state. Another charming aspect about Sanford is that it’s known for its abundance of Mom and Pop diners scattered throughout the town.
Perfect for: People who want to be a little bit out of the way, but still within striking distance of a metropolitan area (Raleigh) for a day trip. Traditional small town feel with some of the infrastructure of a bigger city, and great state parks are a short drive away!
Not ideal for: Families and service members who want to be close to Ft. Bragg.
Commute: 1 hour
Fuquay-Varina is a nice little community just south of Raleigh and about an hour north of Fort Bragg. The nice thing about the area is your 15-minute drive to the edge of Raleigh, which allows you to hang out up there on the weekends, and still have a manageable commute to work everyday. Plus, there are a number of local craft breweries that can be found in Fuquay.
Perfect for: Younger families and single service members who want to spend a lot of time in Raleigh.
Not ideal for: Families with school age children, or those who want a short commute to work.
Commute: 1 hour and 15 minutes
I listed Holly Springs last because it is the farthest from Ft. Bragg. It’s a solid 1 hour and 15 minutes drive, all on highways and backroads. Holly Springs is essentially a suburb of Raleigh, and has everything nearby you would expect out of a regular metropolitan/suburban area with great restaurants and shopping. Plus, there’s a smattering of parks and lakes to explore.
Perfect for: Families that want to live in the suburbs and have lots of local choices. Also great for single service members hoping to hit the city on the weekends and being able to Uber home!
Not ideal for: Families that need to be close to Ft. Bragg, and service members that don’t enjoy the scenic route to work.
Choosing where to live when moving to a duty station is always daunting. But, I found myself thoroughly enjoying it once I started looking for the best of each community instead of focusing on the negatives. Military life is about finding that daily fulfillment—whether it’s through the daily grind of the job, that daily well-ground espresso at the local boutique coffee house, or that daily gourmet grind of curated meats at the local restaurant.
Figure out what is important to you, and use that to determine where you live. Don’t choose a neighborhood or community simply because one person said they loved living there. Do some good reconnaissance—go out into the community, check out the local shops and get a feel for the area. Then, when the time comes, make that decision and be happy with it!
Cover photo by Mike Renlund
About the Author
Kris is an active duty US Army Captain who is currently stationed at Fort Bragg.