How Did The McCallisters Afford That Palatial House In ‘Home Alone’?

Whether you’ve seen ‘Home Alone’ once or 100 times, you’ve probably stopped to wonder what the McCallister parents do to afford such a gorgeous home. The internet has one wild theory.
Sweet digs!
Sweet digs! / 20th Century Fox

Home Alone hits different in 2023. It’s still hilarious, and the slapstick performances of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the Wet Bandits are still absolutely magnificent. But all the way through it, it’s hard not to look at the McCallister family’s enormous home and think, “Damn—that’s a lot of house.”

Six bedrooms and 4000+ square feet in Winnetka, Illinois, one of America’s wealthiest suburbs, doesn’t come cheap. A recent valuation by Zillow puts the price of the house used for exteriors at a cool $2.3 million.

That’s an expensive house—one that would be far out of reach for the majority of Americans. Yet, the McCallisters seem to be doing just fine despite the presumably astronomical mortgage. They decorate extensively for Christmas even though they’re going on vacation—which, if money was even slightly tight, they wouldn’t both doing—and that pizza order at the beginning would break $300 today

While the script specifies that the trip—nine people flying from Chicago to Paris, four in first class—is paid for by Peter McCallister’s brother, Peter (John Heard) and Kate (Catherine O’Hara) are clearly doing alright. But how?

The film never specifies, but one fan theory from a few years ago, which recently resurfaced on TikTok, might have the answer: Obviously, Kevin’s dad is a gangster. If true, the theory would explain the massive home, the wads of cash, and the Burberry coats. Some people have jumped on the theory and suggested it also explains why Kevin doesn’t call the police—despite the film declaring Kevin made the decision not to involve the authorities after he accidentally shoplifted a toothbrush and was convinced he was a criminal.

Similarly, suggestions that Harry and Marv are members of a rival crime family don’t really hold up. Neither man mentions being part of a gang at any point in the movie, where they are repeatedly seen discussing their actual motive: to steal a bunch of stuff. And the scene at the beginning where Harry, dressed as a policeman, shows up to scope out the joint doesn’t really make sense given the gang theory. If the McCallisters were gangsters, would they really welcome the police into their home? Successful gangsters have a habit of hiding in plain sight—surely the police would give them a wide berth on their neighborhood duties? Or, given that a successful gangster would know their rivals, wouldn’t Peter have immediately recognized Harry as a member of a rival faction, and whacked him there and then? Or, in the parlance of the fictional movie-within-the-movie Angels With Filthy Souls: Wouldn’t Peter have given Harry to the count of ten to get his ugly, yella, no-good keister off the McCallister property?

But outside of those nitpicky theories, the basic theory—that Peter is a gangster—isn’t totally implausible, Todd Strasser’s 1991 novelization of the movie cites Peter’s job as “prominent businessman,” which admittedly works as a pretty good euphemism—it just isn’t enormously plausible.

Home Alone writer John Hughes passed away in 2009, so sadly isn’t around anymore to confirm or deny the accusation. But the basis for the theory seems to be that there isn’t any evidence to suggest Peter isn’t a gangster, which isn’t quite enough.