When Craig Freeland retired from active duty at Maxwell Air Force Base, he knew he wanted to keep his family close to the base.
"We looked in Montgomery; we looked all over the tri-county area. Finally a realtor took us to Prattville," says Freeland, who is now Safety and Security Manager of U.S. Foodservice Inc. "Some of the attributes that made us swing in favor of Prattville were that it's a very safe community, which is important for any family, and the fantastic public school system.
"The other thing that really grabs you when you get to Prattville as a new person is that people are so friendly, and there is so much to do for families. Our daughter was very young when we moved here, but we thought, if you've got to raise a family, this is a great place to raise a family."
Patriotism & Support
Freeland is in good company. Many of the families who relocate to Prattville are affiliated with Maxwell Air Force Base, about 13 miles away. Of the active duty military workers living off base, more than a third choose to live in Prattville. The quality-of-life features that attract active and retired military helped land Prattville on NerdWallet's 2015 list of best places for relocating families, but for military families specifically, Prattville's amenities also include a patriotic spirit and limitless support for servicemen and servicewomen.
"I don't know if you can quantify it, but you just get this feeling when you come to a town [about] whether it supports the military," Freeland says. "In Prattville, you know you're welcomed into the community. They support the military. You can see it by what they do and how they act that they have a love of military people."
Julie Cooley agrees. Her family moved to Prattville in 2004 when her husband relocated to Maxwell Air Force Base. Cooley says her family liked the community in Prattville so much that after her husband left active duty, he joined the Air National Guard to remain in Prattville 'stationary.'
"We loved that the people, the business owners, our neighbors all knew the difference between 10-month students with ACSC/Air War and knew about the permanent party, Guard and Reserves," Cooley says. "They seemed to be interested and invested in what we do as a military family. They often voiced their appreciation of my husband's service and supported us through deployments."
Cooley says her family also appreciates the many opportunities to get involved in the community.
"Our twins were in kindergarten when we moved here, and they were able to participate in all kinds of sports through the YMCA and the City of Prattville Parks and Rec," she says. "I soon got involved in Prattville Service League, Prattville First United Methodist Church and volunteering at AICC. My husband was able to find balance and began coaching soccer with the city."
"In terms of how the military supports the community, they are huge volunteers," Freeland adds. "They really get involved in the community and offer their leadership and really become strong volunteers for the period of time they're in that community."
For his part, Freeland says one of the biggest amenities Prattville has to offer is outdoor recreation.
"One of the biggest attractions for me was golf. Within a 30-mile radius of Prattville, you're in this mecca of golf. With the Robert Trent Jones trail, we've got some of the finest golf in the world," Freeland says. "People from around the world come here to play golf; it's just absolutely amazing."