For most of his 44-year-long career in public office, Joe Biden had a nickname: Middle Class Joe. He also often called himself "one of the poorest members of Congress." His scrappy roots—born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to a father who suffered a number of financial setbacks—are now a big part of his 2020 presidential campaign's plan to appeal to American voters. But according to the Wall Street Journal, the reason why Biden was often at the bottom of the wealth ladder among his colleagues in the Senate had a lot to do with his life-long obsession with real estate. "Even as a kid in high school I'd been seduced by real estate," he wrote in his 2007 autobiography, Promises to Keep.
Biden began buying homes—especially those that were outside his budget—in his twenties, taking out multiple mortgages and receiving loans against life insurance policies. His net worth was often in the negatives—in 2007, he was ranked the least wealthy senator.
Today, the 77-year-old Democratic presidential nominee is hardly middle class anymore. According to a 2019 Forbes estimate, Biden and his wife Jill are worth $9 million, much of that accrued from speaking fees and book deals that came pouring in after his vice presidency. About $4 million of that worth is in his real estate.
While the Bidens' collection of homes pales in comparison to his opponent Donald Trump's many gilded palaces, the family still lays claim to an impressive group of stately digs. Cases in point, below.
In 1996, Biden purchased four acres of secluded, lakefront land in the upscale suburb of Wilmington, Delaware, and built this 6,850-square-foot home. According to Zillow, the lot was purchased back then for $350,000 and the property is now estimated to be worth more than $1 million, though a real estate expert put that figure closer to $2 million. During his vice presidency, he rented out a cottage on the property to the Secret Service for $2,200 a month. When his son Beau was battling brain cancer, Biden considered selling the house to help pay for treatments but was discouraged from doing so by President Barack Obama, who offered to lend him the money instead.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
In the summer of 2017, the Bidens bought a house on the Delaware Shore for $2.7 million. Overlooking Cape Henlopen State Park and just a couple blocks from the beach, the three-story home has six bedrooms, expansive porches, views of the Atlantic Ocean, and a backyard built for entertaining, with an outdoor kitchen, BBQ, and fireplace. “Throughout our careers, Jill and I have dreamed of being able to buy a place at the beach at home where we can bring the whole family. We feel very lucky that we're now able to make that happen and are looking forward to spending time with our family in the place that matters most to us in the world," he said in a statement.
Upon moving out of the vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory at the end of his term in 2017, the Bidens began renting a house in McLean, Virginia, the upscale suburb outside D.C. that counts a who's who of senators, Supreme Court justices, and diplomats among its residents. (It's also where Jackie Kennedy grew up.) This Georgian-style house, which they rented from venture capitalist Mark Ein (Zillow estimates that it costs $20,000 a month), used to be the home of Alexander Haig, who was the Secretary of State during the Reagan administration and the White House chief of staff to Presidents Nixon and Ford. Sprawled out over 12,000 square feet, the five-bedroom mansion has a gym, sauna, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a driveway big enough for 20 cars. (It was reported in February that the Bidens are no longer renting this mansion.)
Former home: Greenville, Delaware
In 1974, as a young senator and recent widower (his first wife Neilia and their baby daughter Naomi had died in a car accident in 1972), Biden purchased this former DuPont mansion in tony Greenville for $185,000. He nicknamed the 10,000-square-foot house 'The Station,' and it became the campaign headquarters for his first presidential run in 1988. In 1996, Biden sold the house for $1.2 million.
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Leena Kim is an associate editor at Town & Country, where she writes about travel, weddings, arts, and culture.
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