Following four to eight years in the White House, U.S. presidents pack up their belongings in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and head elsewhere after a new head of state is sworn in. As former presidents retire from their demanding roles, they tend to relocate to areas that help offset the stress and nonstop activity of Washington D.C. Whether heading home or to a known retirement destination, former presidents have enjoyed their years after the White House in cities across the country.
The first President of the United States retired in 1797, to much personal relief. He returned to Mount Vernon in Virginia, where he dedicated much of his time to other business pursuits and to his plantation. During his first year of retirement, Washington successfully distilled his first batch of spirits. Unfortunately, President Washington passed away at home a few years later in 1799.
Following his presidency in 1989, Ronald and Nancy Reagan purchased a home in Bel Air, a prestigious community located in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to their Bel Air home, they also owned their long-time vacation home, Reagan Ranch, which was located a bit farther north in Santa Barbara, California. Following Reagan’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease, Reagan Ranch was sold, and the former president spent much of his time at the Bel Air estate. He passed away in the home in 2004 at the age of 93.
President Ford enjoyed the third-longest retirement of all U.S. presidents. Following his defeat in the 1976 election, Ford retired to Rancho Mirage, California. He remained active on the political circuit, making numerous appearances and speeches at events and writing a number of books. He also retained his love of golf and even managed to score the elusive hole-in-one. Ford passed away in his California home in 2006.
When President Hoover departed D.C. in 1933, he first stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Later that year, the Hoovers returned to their Stanford home in California. During his retirement years in California, Hoover enjoyed men’s clubs, road trips, and fishing expeditions. President Hoover died in New York City in 1964. At the time, he was credited with the longest retirement of any U.S. president.
Jimmy Carter now holds the record for the longest retirement of any American president. Following his presidency in 1981, President Carter returned to his peanut farm in Georgia. During his post-presidency years, he established the Carter Center to advance human rights, taught at Emory University, wrote numerous books, and built his presidential library. He and his wife are also heavily involved in Habitat for Humanity. Some of Carter’s personal interests include painting, fly-fishing, tennis, woodworking, and skiing.