Life’s Milestones Are Coming Much Later For Adults


Life’s financial milestones don’t come so thick and fast nowadays, according to the latest official data detailing the rites of passage into adulthood.

We used to think of leaving home, getting married and having children as laying down markers in our early 20s on the journey to adulthood.

But these events are increasingly coming later in life, with financial implications for savings and retirement.

The average age marking every milestone has increased significantly in the past 20 years, says the Office for National Statistics.

So much so, many young adults cannot expect to enter retirement without a mortgage.

False perceptions

But the perception that children are growing up too fast in the modern world is false.

Adulthood officially starts at the age of 18, when  someone can enter into legal contracts, leave home, and take on debt. They’re also able to buy alcohol, smoke, get married without permission from their parents, and vote in UK Parliamentary elections.

The only marker that has shown an age decrease is when young people enter work, which has declined as the employment rate has risen for other age groups, probably because more young adults stay on in full-time education.

The study looked at the finances of young adults and showed the age they reach the milestone:

  • Leaving full-time education: up one year to 19 years old
  • Leaving the parental home: up two years to 23
  • First-time mother: up two years to 29
  • First-time married (men): up three years to 33
  • First-time married (women): up four years to 31
  • Buying first home: up eight years from 26 to 34.

Impact on retirement

“This rise in age has significant implications for our retirement planning,” said Alastair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at financial firm Aviva.

“We assume that our mortgage will be paid off by the time we retire – allowing us to maintain our living standards on less income. As the average age of home ownership rises, this will no longer be the case for a growing number of people.

“Changes in society mean that we can no longer rely on yesterday’s assumptions to shape tomorrow’s plans.  These societal changes highlight the importance of planning for our retirement. If we don’t plan today, we may wake up with a shock tomorrow.”

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