Former President Jimmy Carter lives in a $167,000 house and shops at the Dollar General
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 96 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 2½-hour drive south of 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 less than the median home price in Georgia, which is $213,026, according to real estate site Zillow.
In addition to his affordable home, Carter's 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 repored; he has published at least 33, including a children's book and reflections on his presidency. (Thriftbooks.com lists 46 books.) Carter also receives a $210,700 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.
In 2017, former President Barack Obama purchased an $8.1 million mansion in Washington, and is well known for his family's tradition of taking a summer vacation to the picturesque (and pricey) Martha's Vineyard.
And while Bill Clinton said he left the White House $16 million in debt, that was swiftly erased thanks to his lucrative paid speeches and book deals. It's been reported by NPR that his first year out of office, Clinton 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 $2.85 million home in D.C.
But fancy living is not Carter's style. 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 1, 2020.
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