Brits don’t truly grow up until the age of 26

You’re not a ‘grown-up’ until you’re 26 years old! British youths don’t truly become adults until their mid-20s and blame the economy, further education and a ‘lack of effort’ for the struggle

  • Seven in ten of those asked felt that life skills should be taught from earlier age 
  • The results revealed the top 50 signs that ‘Independence Day’ had been reached
  • These included booking their own appointments and doing their own laundry

Brits do not truly become adults until the age of 26 and believe it is harder than ever for young people to grow up to fend for themselves, according to a recent survey.  

More than half of the 2,000 adults polled blamed the economy, a longer time spent in education and a ‘lack of effort’ for the struggle.

Seven in ten feel they should be taught life skills from an earlier age to help young adults become independent faster as well as more financially savvy.

Brits do not truly become adults until the age of 26 and believe it is harder than ever for young people to grow up to fend for themselves, according to a recent survey (file image)

In contrast, children in the 1980s were cooking family meals and helping out around the house long before they became teenagers. 

Nuala McNally is part of the National Youth Board for the National Citizen Service (NCS), which is a programme to help 16 to 17-year-olds build confidence, independence and learn life skills.

Nuala, 17, said: ‘There are a number of factors which may contribute to young people finding independence later now than ever before. 

‘It’s much harder for us to leave our parents’ and guardians’ homes for the first time, meaning less opportunity to put practical skills such as budgeting.

‘In addition, a lot of us are choosing to stay in education longer, which is great as more people are academically investing in their future.

‘However, it means we have less “real world” experience.’

The survey also revealed the top 50 signs ‘Independence Day’ had been reached – including being able to budget efficiently, being financially independent from mum and dad, and paying your own bills. 

Booking your own doctor and dentist appointments, being comfortable talking to people and not having a curfew are also signs of reaching real adulthood.   

Despite the legal age of adulthood now being 18 in the UK, a resounding six in ten adults don’t believe this reflects the real age people become independent.

And although 75 per cent of adults think parents should play the biggest role in teaching a young person everything they need to know for adulthood, a fifth think some of these learnings should come from teachers.

Even those adults who claim to have reached independence already admit they have had to borrow almost £400 from family or friends in the last 12 months.

On top of that, 38 per cent of those surveyed by OnePoll admit they still rely on their parents or guardians emotionally or physically.

Jermain Jackman, youth advisor to the NCS Trust Board, said: ‘The age of independence is real and every young people experiences it, however different people go through it at different times.

‘Care leavers for example, are placed in adult-like situations where they’ll be living on their own and having to manage their own bills and then you have.

Booking their own dentist and doctor appointments were also on the list of signs of independence 

‘On the other end of the spectrum, 30plus-year-olds still living with their parents at home.

‘So I don’t think we can set an actual age of independence but what we can do is prepare for that age.

‘That’s why organisations like NCS are so important by equipping young people with those practical skills such as managing household budgets and cooking, these skills become tools when reaching that age of independence.’

The NCS programme is proven to boost young people’s confidence and ability to respond to challenging situations – both of which are key attributes to help build independence.


1. Being financially independent from your parents/guardians

2. Moving out of your parents’/guardians’ home

3. Managing your own bills/outgoings

4. Buying your own property

5. Having a job

6. Being able to budget

7. Having control of your own bank account

8. Paying rent

9. Having savings

10. Paying your own mobile phone bill

11. Planning and going to do your weekly food shop

12. Doing your own clothes washing

13. Spending your money on household goods e.g. hoover, mattress

14. Booking your own doctors/dentist appointment

15. Being self-motivated

16. Owning your own car

17. Buying your own clothes

18. Going on holiday without your parents/guardians

19. Making your own dinner

20. Voting

21. Being confident at taking on any task without help

22. Sorting out your own car problems

23. Travelling alone to a foreign country

24. Passing your driving test

25. Having a baby

26. Having no problem saying ‘no’ to people

27. Buying your own towels and bedding

28. Being comfortable challenging other people’s opinions

29. Being confident talking to new people

30. Navigating public transport alone

31. Having life insurance

32. Not having a curfew

33. Knowing how to do a meter reading

34. Confidently being able to cook a roast dinner

35. Having a credit card

36. Being able to change a light bulb by yourself

37. Being happy to go out for a meal alone

38. Having family and friends come to you for advice

39. Getting a pet without asking anyone’s permission

40. Being able to buy alcohol

41. Dressing weather-appropriately without anyone telling you to

42. Volunteering by myself

43. Being able to mow the lawn on your own

44. Buying toilet paper

45. Having sex

46. Owning a host of cleaning products

47. Hosting dinner parties

48. Being able to bake a basic cake without looking at a recipe

49. Putting up a tent by yourself

50. Having your own social media accounts 

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