Fort Jackson is located in the Central Midlands section of South Carolina. Fort Jackson is located in northeastern Columbia, near where I-77 intersects with I-20. Columbia is a small to medium-size city that provides most amenities military families are looking for, including an affordable cost of living. The cities of Lugoff, Hopkins, Elgin and Irmo, SC are located nearby.
About 15,000 soldiers and their families are assigned to Fort Jackson and about one-third of those live on base. The retiree and civilian population combined equals another 50,000 people that Fort Jackson and the surrounding area accommodates.
Columbia SC skyline via Wikimedia
Fort Jackson is large in size, at 52,000 acres, with more than 100 ranges and field training sites to train and teach new soldiers. There are multiple Exchange locations that include crowd favorites such as Starbucks and traditional on base services such as a dry cleaner and barbershops in addition to one commissary.
Families enjoy a unique recreation feature on Fort Jackson, the Palmetto Falls Water Park. The park offers a 10,000-square-foot family pool, two water slides, a splashdown pool, a Kiddy Pool, a lazy river, and a snack bar.
Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, and sections of the city take on all of the attributes of a college town including sporting events and cultural activities. Thriving nightlife, dining, and housing options are easily found downtown as this is a walkable part of Columbia directly connected to the college.
Williams-Brice Stadium at USC-Columbia via Wikimedia
The city is also the state capital, which means government and business influences are substantial. Expect restaurants during lunch hours to be crowded, as they are serving not only students but the local workforce. Fort Jackson is well-positioned geographically to vacation in perennial tourist favorite destinations such as Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and in North Carolina, Asheville and Charlotte. West of the city and an easy drive, Lake Murray provides the complete package for a day or weekend of fun spent on the water.
Fort Jackson offers on base lodging through IHG Army Hotels. To make reservations, visit the IHG Army Hotel site or call 1-877-711-TEAM.
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Fort Jackson Housing
Image via Fort Jackson Family Housing
Fort Jackson Family Homes
520 Brown Avenue
Columbia, SC 29206
Balfour Beatty Communities operates Fort Jackson Family Homes which includes eight neighborhoods. Two- three-, and four-bedroom homes are available for all ranks, retirees, and civilians. Fort Jackson Family Homes are pet-friendly, and other amenities include sand volleyball courts, a tennis court, picnic areas with covered pavilions, playgrounds, and regular resident activities and events.
Fort Jackson Housing Services Office
4514 Stuart Street
Columbia, SC 29206
Fort Jackson Off-Base Housing
Military families often choose to live in Columbia as their home city if they plan to live off base, but other choices include Elgin, Blythewood, and Hopkins.
Columbia is popular because of the urban/suburban amenities throughout the city, including the industries that thrive on the college culture downtown. Single family homes are found on the edges of downtown, as there is more space; but directly downtown, loft living, condos, and townhouses are available in addition to smaller, older single family homes.
Conagree National Park via NPS
Blythewood is a suburb of Columbia, about a 20-minute drive to Fort Jackson. Above-average public schools draw military families to this city. Also between a 20-25 minute drive, Elgin and Hopkins have smaller populations and offer rural living attractions for those who prefer a slower pace with a few suburban amenities sprinkled in.
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Fort Jackson Weather & Climate
Fort Jackson is hot and humid for several months of the year, but winters are mild, while spring and fall provide the best opportunity to take advantage of outdoor dining and recreation.
The summer highs are usually in July at around 94 degrees. The winter low in January is about 35 degrees. Fort Jackson rarely gets snow, but summer thunderstorms are prevalent due to the heat. There is enough potential for diminished hurricane forces from the coast to evoke a hearty hurricane preparedness program on base.
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Fort Jackson Area Schools
The Department of Defense Education Activity manages school activity for grades Pre-K through 6 on Fort Jackson: Pierce Terrace Elementary School and Pinckney Elementary School. Families living on Fort Jackson with children in grades 7 through 12 attend Richland District 2 schools: Dent Middle School and Richland Northeast High School.
Military families living off base likely zone for Richland County District 1 or Richland County District 2. These are other school districts, further away, but sometimes chosen.
The School Liaison Officer provides access to a wide range of educational resources available to Army families, assistance with school registration and academic credits issues, coordination of transition services, information on local school systems, curriculum, and school opportunities.
Fort Jackson has a homeschool support group to assist families with navigating the South Carolina Department of Education Home School Policy.
Private school options in the area include:
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Support for Military and Families
The Employment Readiness Program (ERP) provides resources to assist with career planning and job search. Military families, Active Duty Military, Active Reserve, National Guard, and Wounded Warriors are eligible for assistance.
The office conducts classes and seminars on self-assessment and career exploration, resume writing, interviewing techniques, dressing for success, networking, entrepreneurship, and resume critiques. Career counseling and individual career assessments are also available. For family members interested in operating a Home Based Business, Fort Jackson provides guidance for starting the business within base regulations.
The Fort Jackson Education Center provides access to courses and programs that lead to an Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees. Claflin University, Midlands Technical College, University of South Carolina, and Webster University all offer both traditional (on-site) and online courses.
The Army Continuing Education System (ACES) promotes lifelong learning, readiness, and resilience through flexible and relevant education programs, services, and systems in support of the total Army family. Counseling services include:
- Education, career, and guidance counseling.
- Financial aid, grants, and scholarship information.
- Post 9/11, Montgomery GI Bill Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP), and other GI Bill benefit programs.
Some more helpful links:
Things to Do Near Fort Jackson
Palmetto Falls Waterpark, image via Fort Jackson MWR
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