The former first lady  talks with Ellen about adjusting to the family's new home in Washington, D.C.

By Mackenzie Schmidt
February 01, 2018 12:38 PM

When the Obama family moved out of the White House in January 2017, they didn’t go far.

Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia moved into a stately 9-bedroom home in the district’s toney Kalarama neighborhood.

“We live in the neighborhood, down the street from the White House,” Michelle tells Ellen DeGeneres in the former first lady’s first TV interview since her husband left office.

They initially rented the stately property, but decided to purchase it in May 2017, a spokesman for the couple confirmed to PEOPLE.

Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP. Inset: Sean Gallup/Getty

While the family is adjusting well to their civilian house, Michelle says, there is one standard feature that has been a bit “odd” after eight years on Pennsylvania Ave. “Now I have a door and a doorbell, and people actually trip out when I come to my door and I open it,” she tells DeGeneres.

Two other family members are unfazed by the addition. “The dogs, Bo and Sunny, don’t know what a doorbell is,” Michelle says. “So the doorbell rings and they’re like, ‘hmm, I never heard that before.'”


Michelle picked out the house on her own, since the search was happening while her husband was still in office.

She chose a historic property, built in 1928 and boasting 8,200-square-feet of living space. The home’s previous owner was former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, who purchased the estate for $5.295 million. The Obamas paid a reported $8.1 million, according to the Washington Post.


While high school junior Sasha “killed it,” scooping up a two-room suite that she “decked out” herself, and college freshman Malia has a space tucked in the attic for visits home, the 44th president was last to lay claim to a room of his own.

“He still talks about this,” Michelle says. “He got so short changed on this whole deal. He doesn’t have enough closet space. He’s got the smallest room for his office.”

One thing the family carried with them from the White House immediately made the house feel like home, Michelle explains.

“What I learned over eight years is that home is where we make it,” she tells DeGeneres. “And we were in the White House for eight years, but it wasn’t the house. it was us in it. It was our values and our love for each other. And we just moved that to another house.”