Are you familiar with the term pied-à-terre? Have you heard your friends or colleagues talk about wanting a pied-à-terre in downtown Boston but aren’t quite sure what it is? Dating back to 1820s, the French term translates to “foot on the ground,” but in real estate vernacular, the term refers to a residence for part-time temporary or occasional use that is not one’s primary home. It is a place to hang your hat in the city whether for a part of the year, several days a week or maybe even a month at a time, depending on your lifestyle needs.
So, who might be interested in purchasing a pied-à-terre? People who spend time in Boston somewhat regularly, or who would like to do so, whether for business or for pleasure. This option might appeal to someone who works long hours in the city and has a lengthy commute home. A pied-à-terre gives you the option to stay in the city in the comforts of your own place versus staying in a hotel… and it doesn’t require much advance planning. Or, a pied-à-terre might appeal to someone who resides out of the state or the country, but travels to Boston regularly for business and prefers their own home to a hotel room during the course of their extended stay. Economically, depending on the frequency of use, the pied-à-terre can make a lot of sense. Purchasing a pied-à-terre can also appeal to suburbanites who just want to enjoy the benefits of city living more frequently, either during the week or on weekends, while enjoying the spontaneity and sense of adventure that comes with having a place of your own in town.
What does a pied-à-terre look like? While the term may be associated with a small place, these residences really can be any size and any form. From basic to chic, functional to luxurious, a pied-à-terre can be a one room studio in a brownstone condominium building with minimal kitchen facilities to a three-bedroom or larger residence in a luxury high-rise condominium building complete with on-site amenities… a concierge, doorman, fitness center, spa, restaurants and valet garage parking, for example. Some choose the charm of a brownstone in Back Bay, a vacation-like setting in the North End or Waterfront, or the convenience of full-service buildings that can be found in most neighborhoods across the city. The choices are endless and the choice is yours.
How do you go about finding a pied-à-terre in Boston? The process is the same as finding a primary residence in Boston. First determine what you can afford, how you can pay for it – cash or financing – and the tax implications of owning another home by consulting your financial advisor, accountant or lender. Do online research as a starting point to explore the range of residential options. Visit properties with your trusted real estate advisor who can also guide you through the entire process of finding a pied-à-terre that works for your particular style and needs and that you can call home.