By Deane Barker

Definition: a small apartment which one keeps for convenience to use in passing through a town

French for “foot on the ground.”

For example, a wealthy hedge fund manager might have a house out in the Hamptons, but have a pied-à-terre in the city to stay overnight during the week. A retired couple might keep a pied-à-terre in a larger city and live there part-time.

Lately, these types of living units have come up for several reasons:

  • They are often used by overseas investors to hide money offshore (though many of these cannot be considered “small” living units; see Billionaires Row)
  • They reduce the overall supply of affordable housing in an urban district
  • Owners will often rent them short-term while they’re not being used – via services like AirBnB – which can cause conflict with neighbors

Consequently, several governments have proposed special taxes on these types of real estate.

Why I Looked It Up

I had known of the term for years, but I used it in conversation at dinner and the reaction of my dining partner was such that I was suddenly scared that I had misunderstood it. So, I looked it up. (Turns out I understood it just fine.)

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