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Planning a move to Fort Stewart, GA
What to know before you make the big move
The day I found out my husband was stationed at Fort Stewart, I thought to myself "Georgia.... GEORGIA??!!" After doing more research, though, I quickly learned that Stewart is very close to Savannah, GA and the Atlantic Ocean(!!). Additionally, Fort Stewart is the second largest military installation east of the Mississippi River. If you look on a map, Fort Stewart stretches a pretty vast distance and almost touches Savannah. It is important to note, however, that much of that land is desolate military reservation. Fort Stewart Main Post is about 30 miles from Savannah. Here is some general information about the area and the Fort Stewart military installation to help you make a more educated decision when chosing housing.
Fort Stewart is located in Hinesville, GA. In my experience, Hinesville offers a lot of affordable housing options including mobile homes and apartments. Rental homes are also available, but they are a little more pricey. For most apartments and mobile homes, onsite management is not available. You have to call management companies or real estate agents who deal with leasing property. There are other options, however, outside of Hinesville which I will address later. If you are interested in leasing an apartment of mobile home, you will have more luck contacting real estate agencies in the area rather than looking on apartment locating Web sites.Hinesville is by far the closest town with housing options outside of main post. Mobile homes will run you $400-$600/mo and apartments run cheap starting at $675/month. Usually this does not include any utilities. I never came across a place that provided a washer and dryer, but hookups are readily available. Hinesville offers a few common restaurants options such as Chilli's, Applebee's and Ruby Tuesday. There is one Walmart, but no Targets or K-marts. Grocery stores in HInesville are Food Lion, Kroger, and Walmart. There is also a Blockbuster, Gamestop, and Bath and Body Works.
If you enjoy a little more luxury and don't mind a half an hour drive to work, there are a few more options to add. Richmond Hill is located approximately 22 miles from main post. "Affordable" housing there ranges from $875/month to $1100/mo. It only goes up from there. Richmond Hill is a quaint town with a lot of Southern charm. It's a fairly safe area with an outdoorsy feel to it. It only takes about 10 minutes to get to Savannah from Richmond Hill, but expect a 30-40 minute drive to reach Main Post Fort Stewart. Highway 144 is the quickest route to Main Post from Richmond Hill. Most of the highway runs through the military reservation so the posted speed limit varies from 45 to 55. Additionally, it only has one lane each direction, and there are frequent military maneuevers that slow traffic. Always keep an eye out for wild boars and deer while driving this route.
Savannah is another option, but expect an hour or more drive during peak driving times to reach Main Post. Savannah has a lot of traffic lights and few expressways or highways. As far as housing, you will get less for your money in Savannah because it is a larger city. If being in a bigger city fancies you, though, Savannah is definitely a place to look at. Georgetown is on the outskirts of Savannah and is the closest area to Fort Stewart. Abercorn is from what I have noticed the main road in Savannah. There are a lot of apartments located off of Abercorn. Savannah offers a lot of shopping and dining choices, especially in the historic downtown district (Bay Street). Venture 12 miles past Savannah and you will run into Tybee Island. Tybee offers great public beaches and excellent seafood restaurants. If you plan on residing in Savannah, browse apartment locating Web sites for pricing and amenities options. Call variious locations as housing is limited because of Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart. I was able to find places that would allow me to reserve an apartment for only $25 ahead of time. That amount also acted as a deposit. When we arrived, if we did not like the place, we were only out a small sum of money.
If you enjoy living away from work to get the real sensation of separation of work and home, but you hate the big city life you may want to check out Pooler. Pooler is approximately 32 miles from Fort Stewart and is located off of Exit 102 on Interstate 95. Expect at least a 45 minute drive to Main Post. Pooler offers luxury apartments at a more affordable rate than Savannah. Restaurant choices in Pooler include Ruby Tuesday, Cheddars, a steakhouse, and more. If your military man needs a good cut, check out Sport Clips. Be sure to ask for the military discount. You will save a bunch. They do a really good job on haircuts and offer a lot of extra services. The theme of the establishment is pretty neat too. And yes, there is a Walmart in Pooler. Pooler is about 9 miles from Savannah, and Highway 80 is the quickest route. Additionally, Pooler is only about 11 miles from the border of South Carolina. Hilton Head is a fun day trip for those who want to get away. Bring cash, though, because most places charge for parking.
Other options around Fort Stewart include Pembroke, Port Wentworth, Allenhurts, Wallthourville, Midway, and Flemington. Pembroke has a lot of brand new apartment complexes that look really spiffy from the outside. The town is pretty small though, and about 25 miles from Fort Stewart. Highway 119 leads you from Fort Stewart to Pembroke. Again, the entire distance is on a miliatary reservation so allow extra time in case of miliatary maneuvers.
Port Wentworth has a few up and coming apartment complexes, but the distance is pretty far from Fort Stewart and the pricing is a tad unreasonable for its location. Port Wentworth is 47 miles from Fort Stewart (an hour drive) and 12 miles from Savannah. There is no Walmart and no popular restaurant chains. The only grocery store is a Food Lion, and there is a CVS Pharmacy. (Word to the wise: The Village at Rice Hope is a brand new apartment complex located in Port Wentworth. They boast amenities and luxury, but no amenities are available yet and the complex has been open for six months. I suggest looking elsewhere).
Allenhurst, Wallthourville, and Flemington all cloesly border Hinesville. I have not seen many options as far as housing out there, but mobile homes run cheap in those areas. I have never been to Midway, but it is a popular area for military families who want to find affordable housing.
Now, finally, how is military housing on Post? Well, I was very pleasantly surprised. The Fort Stewart community offers a lot of brand new homes that are less than two years old. Additionally, even the older housing units are kept up-to-date and very clean. I was very pleasantly surprsied when we moved on Post. Additionally, the convenience cannot be surpassed. Fort Stewart is an infantry installation. If you are a military spouse, expect your wife/husband to be gone long hours every day and spend a lot of time out in the field. Also, always be sure to know the extent of their mission here at Fort Stewart before chosing housing far from Post. Their mission may require quick reaction times to Post. Just to give you an idea on the time spent out of the house, my husband works from 6 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday thrue Friday. Because we now live on post, he is able to have breakfast (after pt) and lunch with us, which is something he could not do when we lived off post. Just keep in mind how the distance from Fort Stewart will affect your family's life. Yes, there are a lot of rules and regulations with on-Post housing, but sometimes the pros outweigh the cons.