jimmy carter painting
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
November 5, 2023 ·  4 min read

Former President Jimmy Carter lives in a $167,000 house and shops at the Dollar General

Most presidents live in luxury after their terms are over. But not Jimmy Carter. This former US president moved from the White House into a two-bedroom ranch in Plains, Georgia. His home is worth just $167,000. In other words, the house is less expensive than the armoured secret service cars parked outside of it.  

Former President Jimmy Carter Embraces a Simpler Life 

Carter was the 39th U.S. president. However, he built his current estate back in the 60s. At 96 years of age, he is the only one among all modern presidents to move into the home he lived in before the White House.

Additionally, he spends the least amount of taxpayer dollars. In fact, according to the General Services Administration, he costs about $456,000, including his office, staff, pensions, etc. Compare that to $952,000 paying for George H.W. Bush, and the $1 million for Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. 

Bear in mind, the home of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner is just one example of his frugal lifestyle. Carter and his wife of 74 years, Rosalynn, make their own yogurt, drink bargain brands of wine, and dine on paper plates. He flies commercial, not shying away from greeting his fellow passengers, and buys clothes from Dollar General.  

Jimmy Carter’s attitude towards money doesn’t come from being a miser or a cheapskate. He stated that he “didn’t want to capitalize financially on being in the White House”. This is why he never joined a corporate brand or took jobs as a public speaker. Luxury is just not his style. [1] 

Frugal Former President 

Once again, compare this man to other former presidents. Barack Obama owns an $8.1 million mansion in Washington. His family takes a yearly vacation to the beautiful and expensive Martha’s Vineyard.  

When Bill Clinton’s presidency ended, he had $16 million in debt. But he managed to pay that off quickly with his book deals and speaking events. In fact, for that first year, he gave 57 speeches and earned $13.7 million from this new “writing and speaking” business. Now, he owns a $2.85 million house in D.C. and a $1.7 million home in Chappaqua, New York. 

However, that kind of wealth doesn’t seem to appeal to Jimmy Carter. “I don’t see anything wrong with it; I don’t blame other people for doing it,” Carter said about presidents earning wealth through speeches. “It just never had been my ambition to be rich.” [2] 

He didn’t feel suited to the grandeur.

It is speculated that Carter’s frugality stems from being a million dollars in debt from a failed peanut business after his presidency. 

We thought we were going to lose everything,” Rosalynn said. Her husband was forced to sell the business. Nowadays, they are living from the income of his published works and the $210,700 presidential pension. Carter has written at least 33 books, about nature, his life, his faith, aging, politics, women’s rights, woodworking, and even a children’s story. 

 According to Gerald Rafshoon, the White House communications director during Carter’s presidency, “[Carter] doesn’t like big shots, and he doesn’t think he’s a big shot”. 

Carter has used his former presidency status to promote health programs around the world, support human rights, and aid fair elections through his Carter Center organization. Additionally, he’s helped Habitat for Humanity by aiding the renovations of 4,300 homes in 14 countries. He has also built a solar farm to power his hometown. 

He didn’t feel suited to the grandeur,” said Stuart E. Eizenstat, a Carter aide and biographer. “Plains is really part of his DNA. He carried it into the White House, and he carried it out of the White House.” 

Jimmy Carter Believes in America 

Carter’s presidency lasted from 1977 to 1981. This term is most well-known for long queues at gas stations and the Iran hostage crisis. 

I may have overemphasized the plight of the hostages when I was in my final year,” he said. “But I was so obsessed with them personally, and with their families, that I wanted to do anything to get them home safely, which I did.” 

Overall, the ex-president is proud of trying to promote global peace and human rights. He even received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his efforts. 

Despite the overcast climate in American current politics, Carter believes that the US’s ethical and moral values” are still intact. One day, the citizens will “return to what’s right and what’s wrong, and what’s decent and what’s indecent, and what’s truthful and what’s lies.” However, he concludes with “I doubt if it happens in my lifetime.” [3]

Read next: Meet Leydy Pech, the Mayan Woman Who Stopped Monsanto and Won the ‘Nobel For the Environment’


  1. Former President Jimmy Carter lives in a $167,000 house and shops at the Dollar General.” CNBC. Sarah Berger. October 1, 2020.
  2. Former US president Jimmy Carter still lives in a modest $167,000 house that he built himself back in 1961.” Meaww. Ishani Ghose. April 9, 2020.
  3. The un-celebrity president.” The Washington Post.  Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan. August 17, 2018.