US & Canada

Will President-elect Trump live in the White House or New York?

NYPD officers stand guard at the entrance of Republican president-elect Donald Trump's Trump Tower in New York, U.S. November 13, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police stand guard at the entrance to Trump Tower

Since last week's election upset, rumours have been swirling over whether newly appointed President-elect Donald Trump will leave his $100m (£80m) New York penthouse for the White House.

The billionaire's 58th floor residence in Trump Tower offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and has been decorated in a "Louis XIV style" decked in gold and marble.

Photos of the penthouse, published by the Daily Mail, show enormous chandeliers, plush sofas, and gold-encrusted Corinthian columns.

Mr Trump once told biographer Michael D'Antoni about his penthouse, expressing great pride in its construction.

"This is a very complex unit. Building this unit, if you look at the columns and the carvings, this building, this unit was harder than building the building itself."

And, according to the New York Times, Mr Trump has been speaking with advisers about how many nights a week he would spend in the White House, saying he would like to spend time in New York when he can.

The business mogul is reportedly a homebody who flew long hours during the campaign just to sleep in his own bed.

It is unclear if Mr Trump, his wife Melania and the couple's 10-year-old son, Barron, who is currently halfway through his school year, will live at the White House.

But if he opted out of his presidential quarters he would certainly turn Washington's historical status quo on its head.

World leaders who have rejected official residences

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose not to live in the official residence of 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa because of its dilapidated state of disrepair. Mr Trudeau's mother, who lived in the house while her husband was prime minister, referred to the residence as "the crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system".
  • Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama refused to live in the newly built Flagstaff House because his party had accused the then government of wasting taxpayers' money. Mr Mahama, a former vice-president before he took his current office, continues to live in his old home, only using Flagstaff House as an office. Ironically this means taxpayers must shell out more money for another house for his deputy.
  • Pope Francis famously denounced the papal residences after his election in 2013, saying he did not need a large apartment and liked interaction with other clergy. "I'm visible to people and I lead a normal life - a public Mass in the morning, I eat in the refectory with everyone else. All this is good for me and prevents me from being isolated."

The White House is seen as a symbol of American history and tradition and has been occupied by every office holder since John Adams, America's second president.

In 1902, the president's offices were relocated to the building's second floor, making the commute to a busy job a bit easier.

The White House is a quick two miles from the Capitol building where the US Congress is held - Trump Tower happens to be over 220 miles away.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The White House is a symbol of American history and tradition

Also, if Mr Trump chooses to reside in New York he could greatly disrupt city traffic. New Yorkers frequently take to social media in frustration when President Obama's motorcade disrupts the city's busy grid.

Whenever the president travels, roads are blocked, traffic can back up for miles and delays can last hours, but this would be exacerbated in a crowded city like New York.

Then there is the issue of security. On election night, the US Federal Aviation Administration established a no-fly zone over midtown Manhattan until 21 January, the day after the US presidential inauguration.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters outside Trump Tower pose an additional security risks to Mr Trump and his Secret Service team

The directive cites "VIP movement" as the reason behind the flying ban, which prohibits planes, helicopters and drones from flying below 3,000ft and within a two-nautical-mile radius of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

Secret service flights are exempt.

Nevertheless, were Mr Trump to remain in New York, security at Trump Tower would have to be bolstered.

The White House has multiple layers of defence, making a veritable fortress.

An outer iron fence is reinforced by groups of armed guards at the gates and inside the perimeter.

Snipers are perched atop the building and windows have bullet-proof glass. Additionally, infrared alarms, lasers, and missiles are all reportedly part of the building's defence system.

For a tycoon accustomed to jetting to lavish residences as he pleases, his new job may be an adjustment.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Trump also owns the lavish $200m Mar-A-Lago mansion in Palm Beach, Florida

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