Your Name (if you would like it to appear): QM wife
Base Name: Fort Leonard Wood
Base Location: South Central Missouri
How long have you been here? August 2005 – present (January 2009)
What is housing like? On-post? (waiting list, conditions, etc.) Off-post? Any
areas to stay away from? Average price to rent or buy?
When we got here, the on-post housing looked pretty bad, so we decided to live off-post. We bought a home ten minutes out of the south gate in the Evening Shade community. Great area – quiet, perfect to raise kids – but kind of a drive on base to the units (about 30 min) since all of the area around south gate is training areas. At the time, we got a really good deal on the home and we may end up making a good profit when we sell in a few months. The housing market has been very up and down, so hard to tell what will happen. I would say you could buy a decent home for around 130,000 though. Rent is decent, but would probably be most of your BAH. I know friends who live on post now in the newer housing that has been built, and it is nice, spacious, but hastily-built and often has maintenance issues. Haven’t heard of any bad areas, but I don’t live in Waynesville/St Robert area.
Rate the PX & Commissary.
The new PX is very, very nice with a great selection of clothing, electronics, and household goods. Great food court with excellent variety, but can be pricey. Greek food, Chinese food, Subs, Pizza, usual stuff. Main PX has a barber shop, misc military clothing/gift shops, satellite pharmacy that is very convenient, shipping store. Avoid the PX at all costs on Thursdays and Sundays because trainees graduate and they bring their families in to shop, makes it very crowded. Very nice new gas station/shoppette on one side, older gas station/Burger King/Shoppette next to front gate. Commissary is very nice, great
selection, fresh produce, wonderful variety of ethic foods and ingredients (especially German), great sales, and deli has fresh sushi made
daily! Class Six has recently moved into a new building and has a wide
selection. Furniture store is preparing to move, and has a decent selection.
Activities on base?
This is paradise if you love the outdoors. Multitude of places to hunt, fish,
outdoor swimming pools, Davidson Fitness Center has indoor swimming pool you can rent after-hours for birthday parties (lifeguards provided), Miniature Golf Course is set to open this year. Nice bowling alley, very affordable. Theater with free movies on the weekends, usually still fairly new movies. Great shady parks with playground equipment. One swimming pool has a small water-park type slide the kids love. Kids Fishing Derby in the Spring is fun. Lots of stuff around Christmas, Santa is usually at the Library. Library is spacious, quiet. Great programs for kids, youth sports leagues (basketball, baseball, soccer) going on all the time, after school programs, they teach dance on base (but a waiting list). Usually something for everyone, lots of seasonal stuff to choose from like summer concerts, fireworks, fall haunted houses, etc.
Active Spouses Club?
There used to be an NCO Wives club, but I think it is now all combined into the Military Spouses Club. To be honest, I work a lot so I don’t participate in a lot of that, outside regular unit activities. I was active in FRG when unit was deployed but honestly, the quality of that depends entirely upon unit leadership and FRG leadership. My experience has been better with making close friends in neighborhood and a few select ones in the unit.
Things to do in area?
St Louis is two hours to the east and is a great weekend trip. Springfield is
two hours west and is equally enjoyable, on a smaller scale. Great shopping in both areas and excellent restaurants. Lake of the Ozarks is about an hour north and is super-fun in the summer, and the town at the lake (Osage Beach) has a wonderful outlet mall with stores such as Aeropostale, Children’s Place, Yankee Candles, and Gap. There are lots of caves in the area that are available to tour, and just east of here is St. James Winery, which makes the best wine (available for about $6 a bottle at the PX and Class Six) and is available for touring. A small water park is located 30 minutes east in Rolla, and the kids love it – has a large water slide for the big kids, a lazy river for everyone, and a smaller area for the little ones, with a giant sandbox on the side. About 30 minutes to the west is Lebanon, and Lake Pomme De Terre is close to this for a smaller lake experience, often less crowded. Trout fishing is also big at Bennett Springs near Lebanon. I drive to Lebanon for the kids’ karate and gymnastics,
only about 30 minutes from here, which is not too bad. For a longer weekend trip, you can go about 2-3 hours north to Columbia and Fulton, which has great bed and breakfasts, winery tours, antique shopping, scenery, etc. Memphis is 3-4 hours away, so is Kansas City.
Best schools ever. I sub at our local schools in Plato (for those who live out
of the south gate). Have lots of friends who work/sub at post schools (part of Waynesville RVI school district). Excellent, excellent schools with low student to teacher ratios, wonderful teachers who care about the students, excellent administration. Plato is not the best aesthetically, but it more than makes up for it in quality instruction and learning. Some of the highest test scores I’ve seen and they’ve more than succeeded in preparing my kids for the next grade. Waynesville schools are a little larger, have a few more activities, but still good schools. Buses run to just about everywhere. Plato has a HS. If you live on post, HS is off-post in Waynesville, but is only about 15-20 min away. Waynesville HS has awesome football team and basketball, baseball teams. There are also excellent churches in the area with good youth programs. Westside Baptist Church is a good one for on-post or in the Waynesville area. Roby Christian Church and Roby Baptist are good for the south area.
Any colleges in area?
Drury, Columbia, not sure what else, haven’t taken classes here. Great Ed
Learning Center (my husband has used this, he takes online classes through Liberty) and they are a big help to you in determining best college option, degree program, financing, etc. Many evening/weekend/night classes available on post and in neighboring St Robert.
Jobs? (on post and off)
Just like everywhere else, the perfect job won’t fall into your lap. You
actually have to take the initiative to find it and it may take a few weeks to
find it. There are a lot of positions available on-post, but you have to be
proactive to look for them and get your name in there. Keep in mind there are a lot of retirees here who often go to work on post. There are also opportunities available in local schools, area government, and other businesses. There is a WM, Lowe’s, many restaurants. Find connections within your community and ask around. Also do a web search or get signed up to get on the email list for government jobs in this area that will notify you when positions are open on post.
Favorite aspect of this base/surrounding city? You actually get seasons here. We are from the south, where it is hot year-round. We actually have a mild spring, warm summer (not scorching hot w/suffocating humidity like the deep south) but there is mild humidity with some mosquitos, a chilly fall with beautiful foliage, and cold winters with snow 2-3 times on average. The kids have had a blast with the snow – definitely purchase some good snow boots and sleds, you won’t need them on a weekly basis, but they come in handy. This is also a great community with very down-to-earth people and good family values. Laid-back, relaxed “Norman Rockwell” lifestyle – at least where we live out of the south gate.
Least favorite aspect? I miss the convenience of living in the city and being
able to drive 5 minutes to WM or the grocery store. A multitude of trees also makes for very bad seasonal allergies.
Local websites? (base, chamber, newspaper, schools, etc.) Check out Plato
schools at http://www.plato.k12.mo.us; Waynesville Schools at
http://www.waynesville.k12.mo.us; FLW at http://www.wood.army.mil; Springfield news at http://www.ky3.com; the Guidon (FLW paper) http://www.flw-guidon.com; Waynesville paper
http://www.waynesvilledailyguide.com.; Local Century 21 office http://www.c21prestige.com;
Fort Wood housing http://www.ftlwoodfamilyhousing.com/.
Any other tips? Make the best of it, get out and look for what you’re interested in, you will probably find it.