What Barack Obama and Other Former Presidents Have Done Since Their Time In the White House

What’s left to do after being president of the United States? For many past presidents, there’s a lot to do. Even if it’s a whole lot of nothing. Ahead, see what former leaders of the free world do after their time in the White House is over.


Barack Obama in Indonesia

Barack Obama has been able to take several trips since he left office. | Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images

Four to eight years of running a country earns past presidents a well-deserved vacation. After his time in office, former president Barack Obama vacationed on Necker Island owned by Richard Branson. Photos of Obama wearing a baseball hat backward take the world by storm.

Hint: Former presidents become authors.

Write a memoir

Books on late American president John F Kennedy

Many presidents end up writing memoirs. | Lex Van Lieshout/AFP/Getty Images

The majority of past presidents will write a book after leaving office. Signing a lucrative book deal with a publishing house is expected these days. John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter are three of the many presidents who have written books. While suffering from throat cancer, Ulysses S. Grant wrote 25-50 pages of his memoir a day, according to the Daily Beast.

Hint: Former presidents continue to be in the spotlight.

Give exclusive interviews

Prince Harry interviews former US President Barack Obama as

Barack Obama gave an interview to Prince Harry. | The Obama Foundation/Getty Images

Another expected move from a former president in today’s world is to give a major news outlet an exclusive interview, usually with names such as Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, or Oprah Winfrey. In Barack Obama’s case, Prince Harry was the first person to interview him after leaving office.

Hint: Former presidents continue to make a difference.

Champion causes

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter created the Carter Center. | Jessica McGowan/Stringer/Getty Images

Just because presidents leave office doesn’t mean they’re done promoting positive change in the world. One past president in particular is known for his work after leaving office. Once his presidency was over, Jimmy Carter created the Carter Center, devoted to human rights. Specifically, the Carter Center’s success surrounds Guinea worm disease.

Hint: They make time for hobbies.

Take up a hobby

Paintings of wounded US military veterans painted by former US President George W. Bush hang in "Portraits of Courage"

George W. Bush took up painting. | Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

Since leaving office, George W. Bush has become a painter. He picked up the hobby in 2012. The world learned of his new hobby after an email hack. Self-portraits, portraits of American military veterans, and world leaders are among Bush’s paintings.

Hint: Many presidents take on this lucrative gig.

Speaking engagements

empty podium

Presidents tend to be talented speakers. | Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Many presidents are talented public speakers. After their time in office, former presidents continue to speak to hundreds or thousands of people, booking speaking engagements or even going on a speaking tour. George W. Bush’s fee for a speaking engagement is supposedly between $100,000 and $150,000, according to the Daily Beast.

Hint: Former presidents get a library.

Open libraries

young student reading book between the shelves

Each president receives a presidential library. | iStock.com/anyaberkut

Being president comes with perks. One of the perks comes after leaving office. Every president gets the privilege of opening a library — with their namesake — in their home state. The presidential libraries have a total of 14 locations, according to the National Archives. The most recent library to open is the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in 2013.

Hint: Retreat from the spotlight.

Live a private life

Barack Obama on a golf course

Presidents get to enjoy some personal time after they leave the White House. | Robert Perry/Getty Images

After being in the public eye, living their lives with the world watching their every move, former presidents take a step back from public life. After his presidency ends in 1801, John Adams lives a quiet life with his wife, Abigail, according to the BBC. He spends much of his time writing.

Hint: Former presidents are still involved in politics.

Hold office

A Road leads directly to the United States capitol Building with green trees abutting each side of the photo on a sunny day

Some presidents have stayed in Washington serving in other roles. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

After leaving office, John Quincy Adams still hold a different position in politics. He becomes a member of Congress, representing Massachusetts, according to Insider. In 1848, he has a stroke and collapses on the House floor, dying two days later. After his presidency, William Howard Taft, is appointed to the Supreme Court. He’s still the only president to ever do so.

Hint: Past presidents start businesses.

Start a business


After he was president, George Washington opened a distillery. | AlSimonov/iStock/Getty Images

George Washington opens a distillery after his time as president is up. Washington starts making whiskey. In 1799, his distillery produces approximately 11,000 gallons, “making it one of the largest whiskey distilleries in America at the time,” according to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Today, small batch whiskey is produced in a reconstructed version of Washington’s original distillery.

Hint: They walk the red carpet.

Win awards

President William J. Clinton

Bill Clinton is a two-time Grammy winner. | Wikimedia Commons

In addition to being president, Bill Clinton is a two-time Grammy award winner. In 2004, Clinton wins a Grammy for narrating Peter and the Wolf, according to Insider. He receives the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for Children. Again in 2005, Clinton wins another Best Spoken Word Album Grammy for his autobiography, My Life, in audiobook form.

Hint: Former presidents go back to school.


School kids with tablet pc

Several presidents have had experience as teachers. | iStock.com/dolgachov

Many presidents teach before becoming president. Teaching is a viable option for them after serving as president. No doubt any school would happily employ a former president. Teaching is one path Obama may choose to take as he has a number of years under his belt teaching at the University of Chicago.

Hint: Former presidents throw caution to the wind.

Do extreme sports

Former President George Bush is present at the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans

George H.W. Bush enjoyed skydiving. | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

George H.W. Bush is known for celebrating milestone birthdays in big ways. He’s particularly fond of skydiving. Another former president goes on an extreme journey after leaving office. Teddy Roosevelt goes on an expedition to South America, where he goes down an uncharted river and nearly loses his life, according to Insider.

Hint: Spend lots of time at a hotel.

Live in a hotel

Herbert Hoover in a coat and tie

Herbert Hoover moved into the Waldorf Astoria. | Central Press/Getty Images

After leaving office, Herbert Hoover moves into the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, according to The New York Times. He lives there from 1933 until his death in 1964. During his time at the hotel, Hoover stays in a suite on the 34th floor. The presidential suite on the hotel’s 35th floor is famous for hosting presidents.

Hint: Collect a pension.

Live off their pension

$100 bills

Presidents get a sizable pension. | Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

In 1958, Congress passes the Former Presidents Act, giving presidents an annual pension of $25,000. Since then, the amount has increased. Today, a president’s pension is $161,000 per year, according to How Stuff Works. A former president could live very comfortably on their presidential pension.

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Read more: From Psychopaths to Narcissists: U.S. Presidents Who Struggled With Mental Illness