Nobody likes to wash dishes, not even former presidents. When he invites his neighbors over for dinner on the weekends, Jimmy Carter serves them on paper plates.
The rural Georgia home he shares with his wife, former first lady Rosalynn, is the same simple ranch he built himself before entering politics. Their two-bedroom home has an estimated value of $167,000. The Washington Post reports that the armored Secret Service vehicles parked in the driveway are worth more. At home, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner delights in the simple pleasures of life, like sharing cheap wine with friends and watching Law and Order.
“It just never had been my ambition to be rich.”
The 93-year-old earns most of his money writing. He’s made an intentional choice to avoid paid public speaking engagements in an effort to not benefit financially from having been president. Since leaving the White House, he’s published 33 books reflecting on his long life and the lessons he’s learned. His most recent book, Faith: A Journey For All, is a reflection on how his faith has sustained him through his life. The popular book made the New York Times Bestseller list in 2018.
“He doesn’t like big shots, and he doesn’t think he’s a big shot,” said his former White House communications director, Gerald Rafshoon.
While he could certainly afford to wear designer labels, the 39th president supplements his wardrobe with clothes purchased at Dollar General. He’s a big fan of the chain, visiting the grand opening of his hometown store in 2004. The Carters fly commercially, rather than relying on private jets for their travel. In 2017, he was captured on video shaking hands with fellow passengers on a Delta flight from his Georgia home to the nation’s capital.
— James Parker Sheffield (@JayShef) June 8, 2017
Like all former presidents, Carter receives an annual pension of over $200,000, along with a budget for business expenses, like travel and office space. In 2017, a report from the National Taxpayers Union Federation shows he received $230,000 to cover these costs.
Carter leads a very modest lifestyle in sharp contrast with others of his station. Former President Bill Clinton splits his time between a $1.7 million home in Chappaqua, New York, and a $2.8 million home in Washington, D.C. After moving out of the White House, former President Barack Obama moved into an $8.1 million mansion in Washington, D.C.