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How do Brits feel about being an adult?

While the UK law defines us as adults as soon as we hit 18, many of us will start to feel like adults at various different points in our lives. For some, it will be when they reach that milestone birthday, while for others it might be when they buy a house, get their first full time job or settle down to raise a family.

We asked Brits to find out what age they think they truly become an adult, how confident they feel being a grown up, and what tasks they’re the most unsure about when it comes to fulfilling adult responsibilities.

More than one in five Brits don’t currently feel like a grown-up

Asked if they currently feel like an adult, just under eight in 10 (78%) of respondents agreed that they do. Meanwhile, more than one in five (22%) said that they either don’t feel like an adult, or they’re unsure as to how they feel.

Interestingly, just one in 10 (10%) of those aged 35-44 agreed that they don’t feel like an adult, making this demographic the most likely to admit that they don’t fully feel like a grown-up, compared with just 4% of those aged 45-54.

At what age do we truly feel like an adult?

Of those that agreed to currently feeling like an adult, 27 is the optimum age they started to finally feel like a grown-up.

But 49 is the average age those who said they don't yet feel like a grown up think they'll finally start to feel like one. Breaking this down by gender, women who said they don’t currently feel like a grown-up said they don’t think they’ll feel so until the age of 51 on average, while men answered 43 on average.

Changing a tyre is the task adult Brits feel the least confident in doing

It’s no secret that certain duties and responsibilities that crop up throughout our adult lifetime are easier to tackle than others. We asked Brits how confident they feel in their abilities to complete a range of adult tasks, from filling in a tax return to fixing basic household appliances, revealing which tasks we struggle with the most.

We found that changing a tyre is the most common task adult Brits feel the least confident in, with 45% admitting they wouldn’t be confident in their abilities to do this. Fixing basic household appliances (37%) and asking for a pay rise (36%), were next on the list.

Other tasks adult Brits don’t feel confident doing include filling in a tax return (32%), writing a will (31%) and fixing a blown fuse (31%).

Settling down or fleeing the nest for the first time? The responsibilities that come with this also prove fairly daunting for our respondents with 25% saying they wouldn’t be confident in applying for a mortgage, 22% said they wouldn’t be confident in setting up life insurance and 20% are unsure when it comes to applying to rent a property and budgeting their finances.

Meanwhile, our respondents revealed that they are the most confident when it comes to doing the laundry with eight in 10 (80%) saying they are confident in their abilities when it comes to this task. This is followed by taking the bins out on the correct days (79%) and changing a lightbulb (79%).

We turn to our partners the most when we’re not sure how to fulfil our adult responsibilities

Many of us will reach out for help when we’re not sure how to complete a certain task as an adult, but where and who are we most likely to go to for support?

Partners are the first port of call for help (13%), especially when it comes to changing a tyre. Women are most likely to turn to their partner when it comes to completing this task (21%). Meanwhile, men are the most likely to turn to their partner when it comes to needing help with cooking a meal from scratch (14%).

The advice of our partners is followed by mums and dads and the use of online articles, blogs or forums. While respondents are most likely to go to their mums when they need help with cooking (12%), they will go to their dads when they need help with changing a tyre (10%). Meanwhile, we are the most likely to turn to online articles, blogs or forums when we need advice on understanding and monitoring a credit score (10%).

The cities with the most and least confident adults

Asking our respondents how confident they feel in completing a range of adult tasks and responsibilities, we’ve revealed which UK cities are home to the most and least confident adults overall.

Belfast is home to the most confident adults of all with 72% claiming to be confident in these tasks on average, followed by Brighton (68%), Bristol (68%), Nottingham (67%) and Norwich (67%).

Meanwhile, Glasgow and Sheffield are home to the least confident adults in the UK with 39% of adults on average admitting to not feeling confident when it comes to completing the adult tasks and responsibilities, we asked them about. Glasgow and Sheffield are followed by Edinburgh (38%), Leeds (37%) and London (37%).

Brits see financial independence as the biggest sign of being a grown up

When asked what they think is the sign of a ‘successful’ adult, financial independence came out on top among our respondents (39%). This is followed by owning your own home (36%) and being able to budget efficiently (31%).

Having matching interior design (4%), going to bed early (6%) and reading the news regularly (8%) are some of the more minor signs of a successful adult.

Only over a third of adults feel like they have their lives fully figured out

In our modern-day society, it can be difficult to not feel pressure from social media and our peers when it comes to what we think we should have achieved by a certain age.

Over a third of Brits (35%) feel like they have their lives fully figured out yet, whilst over two fifths (41%) have regrets about some of the decisions they have made as an adult, we found.

Meanwhile, almost half (46%) said being an adult can feel lonely (36% of men agreed compared with 56% of women). Those aged 25-34 are the most likely demographic to feel this way (58%).

Many of us wish we could go back to simpler times with almost two-fifths (37%) agreeing that they wish they didn’t have as many adult responsibilities (30% of men agreed compared to 44% of women), our survey found.

Despite this, half of Brits say they enjoy having adult responsibilities and being independent (50%) whilst over a third (36%) say being an adult is empowering.

Brought to you by our life insurance experts at Comparethemarket


  • The survey data collected in this study was based on a survey of 2,166 UK residents aged 18 and over between July-August 2022