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The Obamas’ retirement home

By Nduku Muema | January 19th 2017

As US President Barack Obama leaves office tomorrow, many people are wondering where he will stay with his family and what he will be doing in retirement. For most first families in the United States, when a presidential term ends, they retreat to a life of anonymity outside Washington DC.

Not the Obamas who will be “trading” the White House for an opulent brick mansion in Kalorama, an affluent address in Washington DC. This makes Obama the first retired president to stay in DC since 1921. The Clintons moved to a home in Chappaqua in New York City after Bill Clinton’s term ended.

It has been established that Sasha, the youngest member of the family, is the main reason the family will remain in DC. In March 2016, President Obama was quoted saying they were going to have to stay a couple of years in Washington DC so that Sasha can finish school.

“Transferring someone in the middle of high school? Tough,” he said.

According to CNN, the Obamas will lease the house that is reportedly owned by Joe Lockhart, who served as White House press secretary under President Clinton. The brick mansion, built in 1928, has nine bedrooms and eight-and-a-half bathrooms and was sold in 2014 for more than $5 million (Sh500 million).

From an estimate on the real estate website, Zillow, the house might cost $22,000 (Sh2.2 million) a month to rent. Currently, the house has appreciated in value to $7 million (Sh700 million).

The 8,200-square-foot house is very spacious, with a generous living room and dining room, a downstairs family room-cum-media room and an au-pair suite. An au-pair suite is an extra apartment, also known as a granny flat or an in-law apartment.

This will come in handy bearing in mind that First Lady Michelle Obama’s mother lives with the family.

When it was last listed for sale, this house was described as “meticulously renovated, with gracious living rooms, exquisite finishes, a stunning oversized terrace with formal gardens and a courtyard with enough space for eight to ten vehicles”.

Mid-last week, media reports indicated that there was work in progress at the house, as workers wielding hammers and saws were preparing it for the grand entry. A brick wall has been erected at the front edge of the property and enhanced security systems are being installed.

One of the First Family’s new neighbours was quoted as saying that she was very pleased about the move and that the family was welcome in Kalorama, adding that her daughter had called her congratulating her on being on the same street as the president will shortly be.

Like most neighbours, she was also concerned about security, saying: “I think the security on this street will be less intrusive than most people think. He deserves protection, but I don’t think it will be overbearing.” Obama’s new neighbourhood is home to many embassies and ambassadors’ residences, so it technically has all the security its new residents need.

CNN reported that the house is located in the upscale embassy neighbourhood, next door to a former congressman, down the street from the French ambassador’s residence and around the corner from the oldest house in the city. It is also about two miles from the White House, and half a mile from the DC home of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Secret Service will be guarding the property as expected of former presidents. The Secret Service will make assessment of the potential dangers around the house, talk to neighbours and possibly make changes, with the aim of protecting the house and its occupants.

“Alterations might include bulletproof windows and doors, reducing the underbrush across the street to provide clear lines of sight, more lighting outdoors, changes to parking rules in front of the house and deploying electronics for monitoring the area,” CNN said.

One of the Obamas’ notable new neighbours is the incoming first daughter, Ivanka Trump. Ivanka is reported to have picked a new $5.5million (Sh550 million) home in Kalorama, less than two blocks from the Obamas.

And as the world’s most famous address changes hands, the Obamas are already halfway out of the door. According to media reports, moving vans were spotted on Monday outside the DC residence that President Obama and his family will be moving into next week. This as reports emerged that the family would fly to Palm Springs (a city in California) tomorrow for a short vacation before returning to their new home.

“President Obama will be jetting out of Washington DC immediately after Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and heading to a much warmer climate. It has been revealed that for his first vacation after he leaves the White House, Obama and his wife Michelle along with their two daughters Malia and Sasha will be heading to sunny Palm Springs, California,” wrote the Mail Online.

And while the Obama family will board a government plane for the trip out west, it will only be a one-way flight, with the Obamas having to pay for their own tickets home at the end of the trip.

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