Which major national leader has the worst standard of living?

Countries with extremely low GDPs also tend to rank pretty highly on the corruption index which means the elite end up enjoying a pretty nice standard of living, despite the average citizen suffering.

If you exclude micronations, city states and small island countries, what national leader ends up living the most modestly?

By personal choice, or as a consequence of the constraints associated with living in the economic conditions of the country? A couple of presidents ago, the president of Brazil lived in a modest house and drove an old pickup truck, like Sam Walton. Less than a century ago, the king of Saudi Arabia lived in a tent in the desert.

In the 1970s, Joseph Smallwood (the only premier Newfoundland had ever had) drove his own car from his own 3-bedroom house into his office every day, wearing the only suit he owned, where his secretary (Mrs. Templeton) would sew up the rip in his pants if necessary. When his phone rang at home, he’d answer it himself. At his office, it would be Mrs. Templeton, who would just let it ring if she was busy. One of the last of the populists.

According to this article, it is now the president of Nepal:

Flight of the Conchords made the New Zealand PM’s accommodations seem quite modest, at least when traveling.

From that article [my bold]:


A typo for some form of the verb “belie” doesn’t make sense. Is this some idiom that I have never encountered before?

Jose Mujica of Uruguay was known for his frugal lifestyle. He stepped down last year, though.

The Irish Taoiseach has only had a residence provided for him in the last ten years or so. Prior to that, the Taoiseach lived in his own home, either grandly or modestly according to his means and his taste. The residence provided is not a particularly lavish house - it’s a four-bedroomed house, and was built in the nineteenth century as the house provided to the manager of a farming estate on what was at the time the outskirts of Dublin. It’s main advantage is seclusion; it’s in a quiet spot, and behind a high wall. I don’t think the present Taoiseach uses it. In fact, I don’t think any Taoiseach has chosen to make it his principal residence while in office.

In terms of lifestyle, the principal perk provided to the Taoiseach is a chauffeur-driven car. He also gets round-the-clock attendance by a policeman for personal protection, but I’m not sure that I’d count that as an enhancement to my standard of living, on the whole.

Define standard of living. World leaders often have many day to day problems taken care of. However that’s because it’s an advantage for their country for it to be so. These guys and gals are phenomenally busy and scarcely have time to take care of their primary duties.

Also, size of official residences and whether or not a leader uses his or her own house is misleading. Official residences are first and foremost office buildings and most of their covered area is taken up as office space for their staff. The actual private apartments are rather small.

Nor am I certain that having a leader live in their own house is necessarily a money saver. The costs of installing communication and security infrastructure into a private residence (and then removing it) may well be higher than the running costs of a dedicated official residence.

I don’t think so - if it read “belied”, it would make complete sense, so I’m 99% sure it’s a typo.

I met Helen Clark when I was 15 and my People to People tour group crossed paths with her touring Parliament House. I got to ask her if she had an official residence; she does, but she described as just a really nice middle class house and not like the White House. This is were the Governor-General of New Zealand lives (& of course this is where the Queen of New Zealand lives.

“Belied by” means “contradicted by”, “presenting an appearance not in accord with”. That doesn’t make sense here. The fuller context is:

All I can think is that it’s a combination of somebody who doesn’t know what “belie” means, PLUS a typo. If somebody mistakenly thinks “belied by” means something like “derived from” it makes sense.

ETA: but this is the Washington Post, that’s why I’m mystified by such a mistake.