February 02, 2009 12:00 PM

How does the White House handle the move?

On Inauguration Day, 93 White House staffers had six hours—from the time the Bushes left the building in the morning to the moment the Obamas arrived later in the afternoon—to get everything into and out of the respective moving trucks. There are “no boxes sitting in corners waiting to be emptied,” says retired Chief Usher Gary Walters. And, yes, there is a set of keys, but no need for a presidential key chain. The keys are held by the Secret Service so they have access to every closet, office and gate.

Who pays for the family’s expenses?

Believe it or not, the Obamas foot the bill for their own food, drinks and dry cleaning out of the President’s $400,000 annual salary. White House Chef Cristeta Comerford (below) presents the Obamas with a weekly menu, and they buy the groceries. (Uncle Sam grabs the check for official dinners.)

What if Mrs. Obama wants to bake cookies?

There’s a fully stocked kitchen in the family quarters. The family can also order take-out (Tricia Nixon liked pastries from a Watergate Hotel shop). But Walters doesn’t see the point: “I spent 37 years [there], and I never had a bad meal.”

President Obama’s new ride

This Cadillac limousine nicknamed “The Beast” is essentially a fortress on wheels. Details are secret, but it is believed to weigh more than 14,000 lbs. and have 5-in.-thick military-style armor plating, along with a hermetically sealed interior in the event of a chemical attack.

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