How does Australia’s Prime Minister fare in the housing stakes compared to other world leaders?
With the Federal Election finally decided, it looks like neither The Lodge nor Kirribilli House will be getting a new resident any time soon. In fact, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seems to prefer his swanky Point Piper mansion to the official Prime Minister’s residence, saying in 2015 that he would use Kirribilli House for official functions, but continue to live at home. Considering Kirribilli House would be a significant downsize for Turnbull, it’s little wonder.
So how does the housing offered to Australia’s Prime Minister compare to the official residences of other world leaders? Are Aussie PMs getting the short end of the stick, or are the Lodge and Kirribilli House fitting abodes for our illustrious leaders? We checked out the official homes of other leaders around the world to see which country’s top job comes with the best housing perks.
The Lodge, Canberra
Original image source: Mark Coomber
Perhaps the more official of the two official prime ministerial residences, the Lodge was built in 1927, originally as a temporary residence for the Prime Minister until something more opulent and elaborate could be constructed. Apparently the 40-room Georgian mansion was deemed sufficiently opulent and elaborate, as Australian prime ministers have occupied the dwelling for most of its near-90 year existence.
The Lodge recently underwent a $9 million renovation. The update may have been long overdue, with a former Rudd staffer describing the residence as a “spartan convent”. In spite of the pricey upgrade, Domain has estimated the market value of the Lodge to be at a rather humble $15 million, which would still more than double the previous price record for Canberra property, set in 2010 for the $7.3 million sale of a Red Hill mansion.
Kirribilli House, Sydney
Original image source: Sardaka
Kirribilli House is one of two official residences of Australia’s Prime Minister. The twin-gabled Gothic house was built in 1854 by merchant Adolphus Frederic Feez, and the harbourside home came into use as an official prime ministerial residence in 1956.
The estimated value of the house is said to be at least $50 million, according to the ABC. Last year, US real estate blog Movoto posted a fake real estate ad for the residence, offering Kirribilli House for sale for $54.5 million. The blog decided on this value after pricing surrounding residences per square metre, and applying the same standard to the 300 square metre Kirribilli House, which sits on a 6,000 square metre block of land.
Premier House, Wellington, New Zealand
Original source: Ballofstring
Across the ditch, our Kiwi brethren put their prime ministers up in the hilly suburb of Thorndon at 260 Tinakori Road. Premier House has had a tumultuous history as an official residence. First constructed in 1843 for Wellington’s first mayor, the home was purchased for use as a prime ministerial residence in 1865 when the NZ government shifted its base to Wellington.
Premier House served as an official residence on and off until 1935, when politicians guiding the country through the Great Depression deemed it too showy. It served as a dental clinic up until 1990, when it resumed its duties as an official residence.
The original wooden house has been extensively expanded and refurbished, and the sprawling residence is currently valued at just over $13 million. Like the Lodge and Kirribilli House, it’s not seeing much use at the moment. Both current Prime Minister John Key and previous Prime Minister Helen Clark chose to keep their family homes in Auckland while making minimal use of Premier House.
10 Downing Street, London, United Kingdom
Original source: Defence Imagery
At least one famous political address is getting a new resident, with Theresa May replacing David Cameron as the UK’s Prime Minister. 10 Downing Street has been the official residence of the United Kingdom’s prime ministers since 1753. While the brick fronted terrace with its iconic black door appears humble from the outside, the residence is said to span more than 100 rooms inside.
A 2015 valuation put the price of the property at slightly more than $11 million. That’s an increase of nearly $3.5 million during Cameron’s term as Prime Minister. The property rose a staggering 40% in value under Tony Blair’s tenure, but fell in value under the watch of Blair’s successor Gordon Brown.
The White House, Washington, D.C., United States of America
The presidential home in America’s capital differs slightly from some other official residences in that it’s simultaneously residential and commercial property. While the President and his (or her) family live in the opulent 132 room mansion, it’s also a working office for the Executive branch.
The residence was built in 1800, but was mostly destroyed when British troops torched it in 1814. Every US president since John Adams, the country’s second, has lived in the house.
A 2015 estimate by real estate site Zillow put the home’s current market value at nearly $389 million, or enough to buy seven Kirribilli Houses or 26 Lodges.
24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Canada
Original source: Alasdair McLellan
The home to Canada’s Prime Minister was originally built around 1866, but didn’t come into use as an official residence until 1951. The Victorian mansion has 35 rooms over four floors. In spite of its grand appearance, 24 Sussex Drive is said to be in horrendous disrepair. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s wife Margaret famously called the residence a “large, cold, grey mansion”, and joyously announced last year that her son, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, would not be moving his family into the house.
The residence is due to undergo extensive renovations totalling more than $10 million. These updates could add to the property’s value, estimated in 2013 by real estate blog Movoto to be at around $7.65 million.
Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic
Original source: Ferras
The Czech Republic’s Prague Castle may be the crown jewel of all official residences. With a turbulent and often violent history dating back to the 9th Century AD, the castle has been home to kings, Holy Roman Emperors, Communist dictators and even (for a single night) Adolf Hitler. It holds the Guinness World Record as the largest ancient castle in the world.
In addition to housing several museums, churches, gardens and a monastery, Prague Castle is also the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. It is currently home to mercurial Czech President Miloš Zeman and his wife Ivana Zemanová.
It’s difficult to put a price tag on such a sprawling, historic site. However, the Global Property Guide currently puts Prague real estate at an average price of around $5,000 per square metre. Considering Prague Castle occupies 70,000 square metres, this would yield what is likely a very, very conservative estimate of $350 million. For that incredibly low price, don’t expect to get the Bohemian Crown Jewels, also a fixture of the castle, as part of the deal.