What Does It Cost To Live In the White House?

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When President-elect Joe Biden moves into the White House on Jan. 20, he won’t have to worry about paying for rent (or utilities) while living there, but he is responsible for paying a lot of his other expenses out-of-pocket, The Guardian reported.

While the government pays for a chef to prepare meals, the president is responsible for covering the cost of groceries, Reader’s Digest reported. The cost for official receptions is also covered (at least partially) by Congress, but for private events, food, beverages, waitstaff and cleaning services are paid for by the president himself, The Guardian reported. The president also still has to pay for his own household items, like toilet paper, toothpaste and garbage bags.

Find Out: What It Costs Taxpayers for the President To Go on Vacation

If the Bidens want to do any redecorating once they move in, they may also have to foot the bill for that. The president’s family is given a $100,000 stipend for redecorating, but they must pay for anything above that themselves, according to The White House Historial Association. And while that may seem like a lot of money, it has been exceeded in the past.

Outside of the costs associated with living in the White House, presidents (and first ladies) are responsible for paying for their own wardrobes, dry cleaning, gifts for foreign dignitaries and certain legal fees, Reader’s Digest reported.

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Money Spent: How Much It Costs To Become President of the United States

In her book, “Spoken From the Heart,” Laura Bush said that she was not prepared for all the expenses that came along with being a White House resident: “There were some costs that I was not prepared for. I was amazed by the sheer number of designer clothes that I was expected to buy, like the women before me, to meet the expectations for a first lady.”

Staffing Costs: How Much White House Staffs Have Been Paid for the Past 18 Years

And when the Clintons left the White House in January 2001, all the costs of their two terms left them with a debt of between $2.28 million to $10.6 million, CNN reported.

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Last updated: Jan. 18, 2021

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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