What does it mean to be an adult?

If you’re anything like me, you’re pretty sure you’re not one. I’m often looking around for an adult to help out in scary or confusing situations, then realizing I’m supposed to be the adult (I’m 43) (I can’t drive a car).

A new survey from Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor sought to answer that question, or at least what it means to be no longer “starting out in life.” They surveyed people on which milestones have to be reached in order to leave the starting out stage behind.

Here’s what they found.

Asked at what point “people can no longer be seen as getting started” in their careers, most people said this happens when they hold “a job that is part of a long-term career.” Approximately one fifth said you’re a grown up when you work a full-time job, and a quarter said when you “work in a skilled job with benefits.”

Asked at what point people are no longer getting started regarding personal finances, one-fifth of respondents identified the tipping point as being financially independent from one’s parents. Another quarter said we move up when we “no longer live paycheck to paycheck.” The largest group said people only pass beyond starting out once they “have disposable income and a long-term savings plan.”

Regarding family and relationships, the largest group said we move beyond starting out once we’re married. Having kids came in second place, and being in “a committed and exclusive relationship” or living “with a significant other” landed a distant third.

On housing, the majority picked owning one’s home, while just over a quarter said moving out of your mom and/or dad’s place was enough. And on education, people picked paying off student loans as the sign of advancing to the next stage, followed by graduation college and, far behind, by completing high school.

You can see all the numbers here.

So, to recap, you are an adult when you own a home, are married, have paid off your student loans, have a long-term savings plan, and are working a job that is part of a career.

I’m actually quite offended on behalf of high school graduates and parents who rent apartments and, say, work in the service industry but aren’t on a career path. But hey, it’s just a survey.

What do you think of the results? Are you an adult? And what does being an adult mean to you?