The Salary You’d Need to Buy the ‘Home Alone’ House

published Dec 23, 2018
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(Image credit: A Syn via flickr)

You’ve probably watched “Home Alone” at least a handful of times since it was released in 1990—it’s a holiday classic. And if you weren’t too distracted by the implausibility of Kevin’s hijinks, you may have noticed that the McCallisters’ house is a beautiful six-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Georgian. And, if you’re like us, you’re probably wondering what a house like that costs.

Well the last time the Illinois home on Lincoln Avenue was for sale (2012), it sold for $1,585,000, so you would have to have a successful high-paying job to buy it. But just how successful? Using the guideline that your monthly mortgage payment should be no more than 28 percent of your salary (and using a 10 percent down payment and current interest rates), you’d need to earn a salary of $433,000 to afford the monthly mortgage payments of $10,100 on the “Home Alone” house. As Kevin would say, “Woof!”

Though the fictional McCallister residence is off the market, Winnetka, the exclusive North Shore suburb where the house remains, is filled with some seriously impressive (and expensive) real estate. And if you want to find a home there, you can make a bit less than the McCallisters (but not much less): According to Trulia, the median sale price in Winnetka is $1,085,500, meaning you’d need a household income of about $290,000 to afford a $6,750 monthly mortgage payment.

If you can afford the steep price tag, many think Winnetka is a great place to live and raise a family. It offers plenty in the way of natural beauty, from tree-lined streets to close proximity to Lake Michigan. The village’s park district operates three swimming beaches and the village is also home to a yacht club.

Located just 16 miles north of Chicago, Winnetka is ideal for those, especially young urban couples, who want the convenience of a suburb while retaining quick access to all the city has to offer.

“I see most young buyers coming from the city that are used to walking to the train, coffee, or shopping and feel like the move to the suburbs means they will be living in their cars,” says Mary Grant of @properties.

But Winnetka can offer the best of both worlds. Take, for instance, Grant’s listing at 329 Chestnut.

“The location of Chestnut is perfect, especially if someone is interested in walkability,” says Grant. “From 329, you can walk to town, the train, and the beach, or if you don’t feel like leaving home, the expansive lot has a koi pond, putting green, and even room for an ice hockey rink.”

The current owners have lived in the house since 1994 (or two years after “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” was released) and have raised their family there. They loved the home’s proximity to their children’s schools as well as popular community haunts like grocery store Lakeside Foods and the Book Stall, the village’s independent bookstore.

According to Lydia DeLeo & Jane O’Malley of Coldwell Banker, many buyers are attracted to the character of the older homes in this area. These traditional homes were built starting in the early 20th century and are a complete departure from the “cookie cutter” look of newer construction and stand out for their vintage details, like numerous fireplaces and hardwood floors.

While you won’t have to fight off the Wet Bandits if you choose to live in Winnetka, there is a common irk among those looking for a new home there: formal floor plans.

“The floor plan of these older homes will not always work for those preferring a more open concept kitchen/family room space and no longer feel the need for separate formal living space,” says DeLeo.

However, she notes that owners of these houses have taken a cue from Kevin and taken matters into their own hands: “Many of the older homes on the North Shore have undergone renovations to include an enlarged kitchen space along with adding a family room and master bedroom.”