Adults do not become independent until they are 26 – Too lazy to make the effort

In contrast, children in the 1980s were cooking family meals and helping out around the house long before they became teenagers. Seven in 10 feel they should be taught life skills from an early age to help young adults become independent faster and more financially savvy. The survey also revealed the top 20 signs Independence Day had been reached – including being able to budget efficiently, being financially independent of mum and dad, and paying your own bills.

Nuala McNally sits on the National Youth Board for the National Citizen Service (NCS) – a programme to help 16-17-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 study also found independence has arrived once you take care of washing your own clothes, spend money on household goods and are self-motivated.

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

While others claim independence is when you have a credit card, are able to navigate public transport alone, are comfortable hosting dinner parties, and know how to take a meter reading.

However, despite the legal age of adulthood now being 18 in the UK, a resounding six in 10 adults don’t believe this reflects the real age people become independent.

And while 75 percent of adults do 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’ve had to borrow almost £400 from family or friends in the last 12 months.

And 38 percent of those polled, via OnePoll, admit they still rely on their parents or guardians emotionally or physically.

Jermain Jackman, the 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, on the other end of the spectrum, 30+-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. To find out more visit.


1. Being financially independent of 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

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