‘Home Alone’: The Real Cost To Afford The Big House & Family Vacation to Paris

Selena Fragassi / Selena Fragassi

Every year around this time, as people settle into watching their favorite holiday films, there is one big question that always seems to come up without fail. Just what kind of job did Kevin McCallister’s dad in “Home Alone” have in order to afford that sprawling house and take a family of 15 (including extended members) to Paris for the holidays?

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It’s become meme fodder — and a question so analyzed that even Good Housekeeping’s Diana Bruk once posed the thought: “Was this guy in the mob or something?”

The movie does take place in the one-time mobster mecca of Chicago, so that’s a fair question. But there actually is some information on what the fictional parents (Mrs. McCallister had a job, too!) may have done to legitimately earn all that money.

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As you might recall if you’ve ever seen the 1990 John Hughes classic starring Macaulay Culkin in his breakout role, the McCallister family lives in the wealthy suburbs of the Windy City. The large clan begins the movie about to take an international trip for the holidays, including Uncle Frank and his brood.

But, in a rush to get to the airport, the family accidentally leaves little Kevin (Culkin) behind, and he is left to fend for himself as would-be robbers Marv and Harry target the McCallister home. Kevin defends his home with some creative deceptions and booby traps until the family (finally) manages to make it home just in time for Christmas.

How Much Would the McCallister Home (and Paris Vacation) Cost, Exactly?

When it comes to the total cost for this scenario, it’s a hefty price tag, even at a valuation from three decades ago. According to Redfin data, the real house where the movie was filmed (at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois) sold for $875,000 in 1989. And, in the year 1990, 15 flights from Chicago to Paris — including 11 coach and four first-class tickets on American Airlines (which they did fly in the film) — would have cost about $35,320, according to calculations by WMUR. Looking at American Airlines options for 2022, flying Dec. 19 and coming home Dec. 26 (from Chicago to Paris) would be about $1,967 for basic economy and $5,937 for first class tickets — for a total of $45,385 for the full family.

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But when you consider what careers the parents had, it would make sense how they might afford it all. Chron detailed that the novelization for the film, written by Todd Strasser, alludes to the fact that dad Peter is a successful businessman (and possibly a day trader) and mom Kate is a fashion designer who supplied all the mannequins Kevin uses in one robber-thwarting scene.

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Their combined income, in the ’90s, would have been around $234,000. Assuming Peter was a top earner, his job would have netted around $200,000 annually at that time, per The Washington Post, and Kate’s job would have paid around $34,000 (using the WealthierToday.com inflation calculator to adjust from a current salary of about $77,000 as suggested by Salary.com). In 2022, Peter would probably earn around $328,000 at the top end, per Comparably.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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