10 Things to Know Before You Move to Fort Hunter Liggett
#1 The Distance!
Though you may see signs for Ft. Hunter Liggett from Highway 101, the Fort is still another 36 miles west of the freeway. The roads are not in the greatest condition and it can feel farther than it really is. Wildlife is a big problem all the time, but especially at night, wild pigs and turkey vultures are the biggest issue.
#2 The Heat!
During the summer it is noticeably hotter at Fort Hunter Liggett than it is in town. On average Fort Hunter Liggett is 15 - 20 degrees warmer then King City & Paso Robles. Sunscreen is an absolute must when outside for extended periods of time. At night the temperature will drop, it is not uncommon for the daytime temperature to be 100 plus and the night time temperature to drop into the high 50s or low 60s.
#3 There is Not Much There!
Though Fort Hunter Liggett is 165,000 acres, it only serves 250 service members and civilians year-round. The post commissary and exchange are the size of a modest convenience store. There is one gym, a small bowling alley (six lanes), library, a Subway and a recreation center. To fully in-process/out-process as well as other tasks at times you will need to commute to either Presidio of Monterey or Vandenberg AFB.
#4 It is Not Affordable!
If you live on base, you might save on gas for your commute, but with the base being so far out in the middle of nowhere, there is nothing affordable about the commissary or exchange. If you live off-post you will likely have a 60-90 minute commute and that gas adds up quick. Though Fort Hunter Liggett sits entirely in Monterey County, BAH for Fort Hunter Liggett was moved to San Luis Obispo County in 2013. The BAH difference between the two counties is sizeable and there is an ongoing dispute that the BAH rates for San Luis Obispo are not correct.
#5 The Wineries!
Paso Robles is the next Napa and being stationed at Fort Hunter Liggett puts you about 60-90 minutes from over 300 wineries. Several wineries offer complimentary or discounted tasting to military members and often times discounts on purchases. There is also 15 distilleries and you can't forget 20 breweries, most notably Firestone Walker Brewery (home to 805 beer).
#6 The Population!
Though there are only a couple hundred regular service members at Fort Hunter Liggett, as an Army Reserve Training Facility, every summer the population of service members inflate to about 60,000. If you live south of base in the Paso Robles area, there are about 100,000 residents, this population easily doubles during three major wine events each year: Vintage Paso (March), Wine Fest (May) and Harvest Festival (October). Additionally the California Mid-State Fair is held in Paso Robles in July.
#7 The Airport Options!
Though there is San Luis Obispo Regional Airport and Monterey Regional Airport, both of them are pretty small, have limited flights daily and have a much higher cost. It is recommended to drive the 2.5+ hours to Fresno International Airport or San Jose International Airport or 4+ hours to Los Angeles International Airport. All three have lower fares and more choices. On a side note the bay area has 3 major airports (San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco) the Los Angeles metro area has 3 international airports (Los Angeles, John Wayne "Orange Country" and Ontario) and 2 large domestic airports (Long Beach and Burbank).
#8 This is NOT LA or San Francisco!
The central coast of California really is not anything like Los Angeles or the Bay Area, it is much smaller in population and has reasonably less traffic and freeways.
#9 Let's Go to the Mall!
What Mall? If you are looking for a mall to spend your weekends shopping, you will be disappointed. The nearest malls are 90 minutes north of the base in Salinas or 2 hours south of base in Santa Maria, both are old, run down and attract trouble. You are better off going to the bay area, LA or Las Vegas to get your mall on.
#10 Plastic Bag Ban & CRV!
Plastic bags have been banned in most California counties. This is mandated for all retail stores with over 1,000 square feet. You will either pay 10 cents per plastic bag, bring your own reusable bags or carry your items in your hands. The CRV is the California Redemption Value and is a small deposit added to single serve plastic bottles and cans as well as larger containers of water, teas and non-100% juices. The CRV deposit is 5 cents for single serve bottles and cans and 10 cents for larger containers. RePlanet, the major CRV redemption company in California closed in 2019, leaving far fewer recycling options in the central coast.
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