Forever young? Average Brit doesn’t consider themselves grown-up until 27

  • One in ten adults don’t consider themselves grown-up, according to poll from Nationwide
  • Onset of adulthood delayed despite most having their own bank account, car and home
  • Having children is the most likely life event linked to feeling grown-up

Do we automatically become grown-up when we turn 18? Seemingly not, with research revealing the average age at which Brits consider themselves responsible adults is 27 – almost a decade later.

The Nationwide Current Accounts survey, which polled 2,000 adults, revealed that ten per cent of 40-somethings still did not consider themselves grown up, while seven per cent of people in their 50s felt the same way, as did one in 20 (5%) people in their sixties.

This ‘forever young’ attitude lingers despite the average person opening their first bank account at 17, moving out of home at 21 and marrying at the age of 26. Interestingly, the average age of feeling grown-up - 27 years old - is the same as the average age of having children of one’s own.

According to the poll, more than half (55%) agreed that feeling grown-up is a mindset dependent on major life events, and particularly so for six in ten women (60%). More than one in five (22%) felt grown-up once they had their own children, a further fifth (21%) as a result of moving out of their parents’ home, one in seven (14%) when they got married and one in eight (12%) on getting their first job.

Of those that did consider themselves grown-up, the transition had happened for half (50%) in their twenties, a fifth (21%) in their thirties and one in 20 (5%) in their forties.

The journey towards adulthood may be influenced by our experiences along the way so we asked at what age todays adults first did or experienced the following key milestones:


Activity Average age Exceptions to the rule
Took out a savings account 18 Though 5% were 30-plus and 8% have never done so
Opened a bank account 17 But 15% wait until their twenties
Went to a music concert 18 One in eight (12%) have never been
Had a first boyfriend/girlfriend 17 One in six (16%) waited until their 20s
Got a first job 16 Though one in eight (12%) were in their 20s
Bought a first car 22 But a quarter of women (25%) and a third (34%) of men do so before they are 20
Went on first foreign holiday 20 59% before they were 20 but one in ten were over 30
Moved out of parents home 21 38% before they were 20 and 9% still live with parents
Bought your first house 27 28% have never bought and 15% did so in their 30s
Got married 26 More than a third (35%) have never married
Had children 27 Two in five (39%) don’t have children.
Contributed to a pension 25 A quarter haven’t yet. One in six (16%) started post 30
Planned for a funeral 40 Almost three quarters (71%) have not

Dan King of Nationwide Current Accounts comments: “With adulthood comes responsibility, and especially when you have children of your own – but feeling grown-up is merely a state of mind. No matter what your age, getting yourself financially prepared to meet life’s challenges is essential – after all, learning to manage your money and to save can make the difference between achieving your aspirations or only ever dreaming about them.”

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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