Former President Jimmy Carter has opened up about his surprisingly simple life in a small Georgia town.
Carter, 94, spoke to the Washington Post about his decision to return to the 700-strong town of Plains, Georgia after his presidency rather than cashing in on his political fame.
‘I don’t see anything wrong with it; I don’t blame other people for doing it,’ Carter told a reporter after inviting them into his home earlier this month. ‘It just never had been my ambition to be rich.’
Instead of making money from corporate speaking and joining the boards of big companies as his predecessor Gerald Ford had, Carter returned to the town where he was born and went from being a peanut farmer to the White House.
According to the Democratic President, his financial affairs were in tatters when he left the White House – Carter was President from 1977 to 1981.
Returning to Plains at 56, he came back to a peanut business that was $1million in debt and was forced to sell.
Carter decided that his income would come from writing, and he has since written 33 books on a variety of subjects – although not as successfully as modern Presidents.
On top of his writing revenue, the 39th President of the United States also commands a $210,700 annual pension which all former presidents receive.
But despite his sizeable income, Carter said he was determined to live a modest life in the south Georgia township.
In fact, Carter costs US taxpayers the least of any former US President according to the General Services Administration.
The total bill for him in the current fiscal year of $456,000, covering pensions, an office, security staff and other expenses.
Meanwhile Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all racked up bills of more than $1million last year.
Carter is also the only president in the modern era to return full-time to the house he lived in before he entered politics – a two-bedroom cottage assessed at $167,000.
Carter survived a health scare in 2015 after being diagnosed with melanoma on his liver and brain
But now, after radiation and chemotherapy, Carter says he is cancer-free.
He says he takes great pride in ‘staying active’ and doing the dishes after every meal.
And in addition to his humble home-life, Carter still finds time to teach Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church on the edge of town every fortnight.
According to locals there are queues around the block sometimes even starting the night before.
‘We feel at home here,’ Carter says. ‘And the folks in town, when we need it, they take care of us.’
Asked whether he believes any future ex-President will live as simply as he does, Carter replied: ‘I hope so. But I don’t know.’