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Top 30 things that make Americans feel like adults

A new survey delved into the different actions that have helped respondents to feel like an adult.


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(Photo by Cast Of Thousands via Shutterstock)

Only half of Americans felt like an “adult” when they turned 18 — for those who didn’t, it took until just before they hit the big three-oh, according to new research.

A recent survey of 2,000 Americans found adulting takes some time. While 53% felt like an adult when they hit 18, others said it took until they turned 29 for adulthood to sink in.

That might be one of the reasons why two-thirds of respondents believe 18 is an “arbitrary age” at which to consider someone an adult.

Results found that 59% said they still don’t always feel like an adult — and 79% of respondents agreed that being an adult is more about actions than age.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Avocado Green Brands, the survey delved into the different actions that have helped respondents to feel like an adult.

Topping the list was living on their own (30%) for the first time, followed by buying a house (28%) and getting married (27%).

Rounding out the top five adult-like actions were opening their own bank account (27%) and having kids (26%).

But less traditional milestones also made the list: a quarter of respondents said doing their own taxes made them feel “adult,” while the same number selected paying for their own phone plan.

Interestingly, both voting and buying “real” furniture was selected by 25% of respondents for actions that make them feel like an adult.

About a fifth said they felt like more of a grown-up after purchasing and wearing business casual clothes (19%) and after they started consistently watching the evening news (18%).

Environmental actions also featured within the list — 17% said caring about the environment made them feel more mature, while the same number said shopping at places that offset their shipping costs contributed to that feeling.

“Feeling like an adult doesn’t come down to a single action or feeling,” said Avocado Green Brands Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Mark Abrials. “It’s the broader understanding that we’re part of a larger ecosystem — and that it’s our responsibility to take care of ourselves, the community around us, and the planet that we depend on every day.”

Seventy-one percent of respondents said, as they’ve gotten older, they’ve started to care more about the environment — which might be why 69% of respondents work to take environmentally-friendly actions in their day-to-day life.

It’s no surprise that two-thirds of respondents feel being an adult connects to how well they care for the environment.

Furthermore, 71% believe adults are responsible for caring for and protecting the environment.

“Being an adult means being responsible for our actions,” said Abrials. “And that includes understanding — and mitigating — the environmental impact of our choices.”


  • Live on my own — 30%
  • Buy a house — 28%
  • Get married — 27%
  • Have my own bank account — 27%
  • Have kids — 26%
  • Do all of my own grocery shopping — 26%
  • Do my own taxes — 25% (tied)
  • Pay for my own phone plan (versus having a family plan with my parents) — 25% (tied)
  • Vote — 25%
  • Get paid on a regular schedule — 25%
  • Buy “real” furniture (new from the store; not from college, or somewhere like Craigslist, etc.) — 25%
  • Buy a new car (versus a used car from somewhere like Craigslist, etc.) — 25%
  • Have health insurance — 24%
  • Make my own doctor’s appointments — 23%
  • Have a job interview — 23%
  • Set my own schedule (bedtime, etc.) — 22%
  • Make a monthly budget — 22%
  • Move in with my significant other — 21%
  • Order alcoholic drinks — 20%
  • Shop at small, local stores instead of from large chains — 19%
  • Buy a new mattress (versus a used mattress from a friend, etc.) — 19%
  • Purchase and wear business casual clothes — 19%
  • Consistently watch the evening news — 18%
  • Employ a financial adviser — 18%
  • Buy my own pet — 18%
  • Frame all of my wall-hangings/the art in my home — 18%
  • Start caring about the environment — 17% (tied)
  • Shop at places that offset their shipping costs — 17% (tied)
  • Buy a full, matching set of dishes — 17%
  • Make my bed every morning — 16%

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