Former President Jimmy Carter might have once called the white mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home, but now, he lives in a much, much more modest abode.
Carter, the nation's 39th president and oldest-living former president in U.S. history at 98 years old, lives a fairly normal and frugal life, The Washington Post reported in 2018. In fact, Carter still lives in the ranch house he built himself in 1961.
The home, in rural Plains, Georgia — about a two-and-a-half hour drive south from Atlanta — is a two-bedroom ranch assessed at just $167,000, which is "less than the value of the armored Secret Service vehicles parked outside," the Post reports. It's also a lot less than the median home price in Georgia, which is $319,431 in 2022, according to real estate site Zillow.
Carter's other frugal tendencies include spending weekends dining with neighbors on paper plates with bargain-brand wine, the Post says. In addition, it says he and wife Rosalynn make their own yogurt. Carter has also been known to buy his clothes at his local Dollar General store, according to a 2011 Rolling Stone story — he showed up for the store's opening in Plains in 2004 — and he often flies commercial.
In recent years, Carter has made much of his income from writing books, the Post reported; he has published at least 33, including a children's book and reflections on his presidency. (Thriftbooks.com lists 52 books.)
Carter also receives a $221,400 annual pension, as do all former presidents, plus the federal government gives all ex-presidents an allowance for things like travel and office space. In 2017, Carter got more than $230,000 in such allowances, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, a conservative advocacy group.
Carter's modest lifestyle is sharply different from those of other living former presidents.
Donald Trump, the most recent president to vacate the White House, spends most of his time these days living on his 17-acre South Florida luxury resort, Mar-a-Lago, which Forbes values at roughly $160 million.
Barack Obama purchased an $8.1 million mansion in Washington, D.C. in 2017. The Obama family reportedly followed that with the 2019 purchase of a nearly $12 million estate in their favorite summer vacation spot: the picturesque (and pricey) Martha's Vineyard.
And while Bill Clinton said he left the White House $16 million in debt, he swiftly erased that debt thanks to his lucrative paid speeches and book deals. NPR reported that in Clinton's first year out of office, he gave 57 speeches and raked in a whopping $13.7 million from his "speaking and writing business," according to a 2001 tax return.
Clinton's real estate portfolio includes a $1.7 million home in Chappaqua, New York, and a home in D.C. his family purchased for $2.85 million in 2000.
Former presidents can earn significant income on speaking circuits. George W. Bush pulled in roughly $15 million in his first two years out of office, according to CBS. Bush's primary residence is his sprawling, 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas.
But fancy living isn't Carter's style. The former president has reportedly declined most speaking fees, and when he does receive payment for an appearance, he often donates that money to his charity.
Instead, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner says, "It just never had been my ambition to be rich."
This story was originally published on Aug. 22, 2018. It was updated October 26, 2022.
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