The Washington Post has a great article about the Obama's difficult transition to life under the microscope and behind the protective barrier.
In fact, that difficult transition has been happening gradually since Barack Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004: "For almost five years now, Obama has lamented the way his public rise has infringed upon his personal space, calling it the most painful drawback of high-profile public service. During his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, he chafed when friends suggested it was no longer safe for him to run alone on the shore of Lake Michigan. He argued with aides a few years later when they assigned him a full-time driver, explaining that he preferred alone time in the car."
The fact that Obama has never warmed to the Beltway has exacerbated the transition: "That challenge is exacerbated by the fact that Obama must build his new life in Washington, a city where he has never felt comfortable. After he was elected to the Senate in 2004, Obama decided to commute to work instead of moving his family to what he called the "hothouse environment" of Washington. He spent three days a week in Washington and then rushed home to Chicago, buying tickets on multiple flights to ensure the earliest possible arrival. He met Cassandra Butts, a law school friend, for dinner in Washington once each month. Most other nights, Obama ate takeout food alone in a one-bedroom apartment near the Capitol."
And the stuff they will give up for the foreseeable future, likely forever: "Until recently, Obama and his wife were accustomed to pumping their own gas, shopping at a nearby food co-op, riding bikes along Lake Michigan and attending neighborhood barbecues."
It's easy to see the trappings of the White House environment and conclude it would be the coolest part of the job. The fact is, the families residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue sacrifice an immense amount of themselves the minute they move in. I think too often we the people forget that these are human beings that live and work and are trapped in the biggest fish bowl in the world.