Don't mess with Texas, particularly Killeen. Read Guide >
Killeen is located about an hour north of Austin, and its population is dense with men and women stationed at Fort Hood. Because of this, Killeen does not have the bars, art or culture associated with its larger, more liberal neighbor. There are, however, a number of diverse family-friendly restaurants sprinkled throughout the city. In fact, of the metropolitan area, Killeen has some of the most diverse eating establishments. Shopping is also quite convenient in Killeen--with a number of large malls and chain supermarkets primarily located in the east and west portions of the city.
Outside of college parties, young single people may have a hard time finding something to do on the weekends. The bars located downtown tend to run the gamut from seedy strip club type to straight up dive. Many area singles will venture all the way to Austin for a night out.
The west side of Killeen is where it's happening. And by happening I mean, that's where Fort Hood and Central Texas College are located, so students and military in the area tend to settle on this side of town. Because of this, the west side has a larger number and a greater variety of rentals. One bedrooms, studios, entire houses -- you can find it all on the west side. The west side is also relatively affordable, with average rents for two bedrooms ranging from $550 to 700.
Many transplants to the Fort Hood metropolitan area tend to prefer the town of Harker Heights, which borders Killeen to the east, as its quieter vibes and slower pace are great for families. Harker Heights is separated from Killeen proper by a high concentration of shopping centers. The east side of Killeen benefits from both the access to these amenities and its distance from the base, making rentals slightly cheaper and the neighborhood quieter. Rents in this area range from $450 to 600 for a two bedroom.
Rancier Street, one of Killeen's main thoroughfares, forms the primary boundary of north Killeen. Many of the rentals on the north side tend to be located on Rancier, as the quieter neighborhood north of it is primarily privately owned homes. Northern Killeen is also home to Texas A&M Central Texas-North's campus. Between its proximity to a main town artery and the abundance of students, most apartments in this area have the volume cranked up to 11. Prices reflect the neighborhood's lack of desirability, with rents costing between $400 to 500 for a two bedroom.
The real question of the Killeen housing market is this: are you going to live in a duplex or a private rental? Duplexes, particularly those located around Clear Creek on the west side of town, are newer constructions with more amenities than the single-family homes and apartments in the area. Private rentals, however, tend to be slightly more affordable than duplexes, and also tend to be less heavily regulated. For instance, many private residences will roll out the red carpet for your family pooch, while many duplexes will have you keeping Fido on a military diet to keep her under 30 pounds.
Duplexes located adjacent to Fort Hood, on the border of Cooperas Cove, house off-base military families and can be just as safe and comfortable as private homes. Central Texas College is also located in the western portion of the city, near Fort Hood, so some of these duplexes are college student enclaves. If you're a young person whose vision is best by the neon light of a Lone Star sign, this is great for you. If not, avoid the area directly adjacent to the college.
A lot of residents, current and former, tend to boast about crime in Killeen. In fact, residents of nearby Cooperas Cove and Harker Heights tend to think that Killeen is full of roving gangs of thugs that'll rob a 2nd grader for his lunch money. Okay, yes, there is crime in Killeen and much of that crime is frightening for potential renters -- that is burglaries and car thefts. But, just like in any city, exercising caution and getting to know your neighborhood will keep you as safe from crime as possible. Residents and realtors also consider rentals in the downtown and in denser west side duplex communities to be particularly subject to crime. Avoid these areas, if possible.
Apartments and privately owned homes are easily located from a variety of sources--including online listing services and classifieds in the Killeen Daily Herald. Duplexes are frequently rented through management companies. Most management companies require more money up front than private owners. Background and credit checks through management companies can cost up to $100.
Because so much of Killeen is composed of active duty military, most management companies and many privately-owned rentals will accept military waivers from renters.
Just like most everything else in Killeen, commuting moves with the military. Traffic flow is heavily determined by movement into and out of Fort Hood. Residents living on the west side of town who don't work at the base may have a hard time getting around, particularly on Hood Street and near the South Gate from 7 to 9:30 in the morning and 3 to 6:30 in the evening. Highway 190 can also get backed up in both directions from Fort Hood around rush hour.
So, welcome to Killeen and the Fort Hood metropolitan area! A variety of housing options await you here. Best of luck with your move!
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