21 is an exciting birthday because of the new freedoms that come with it. Below is a list of what you can do when you turn 21, and other exciting ideas on how to celebrate life as an adult living on your own.
Things You Can Do Legally When You’re 21
Drink Alcohol – Since this is the most obvious one, it has to be first on the list. Many people eagerly await their 21st birthday so they can experience buying a bottle at the liquor store or ordering a drink at a bar.
Buy Alcohol – If you aren’t the type to get into drinking, you could buy a drink or a bottle of wine for someone else to still take advantage of the ability to buy alcohol.
Change Your ID – At 21 you can get an updated driver’s license that removes the “under 21” mark on the card. Nighttime driving restrictions will no longer apply to you in places with a curfew, and you can have others with you in the vehicle.
Bar Hopping – Entering bars is another newfound freedom for 21-year-olds, so many go bar hopping to celebrate. Just make sure you have your updated ID with you!
Gamble/Go to a Casino – In some states you are allowed to enter a casino or gamble at age 18, but in others, you cannot until age 21. If you live in one of these states, you can celebrate your 21st birthday with a gambling trip to Vegas.
Drink at an Amusement Park – At 21 you can buy alcohol at amusement parks that sell it. Some amusement parks even let you bring your own alcohol inside the park.
Drink at a Concert – You can also buy alcohol at concerts where the venue serves it.
Go to a Club – This is another one that most are looking forward to leading up to their 21st birthday. Do some research and find the best clubs in your city, or plan a road trip and have a fun weekend partying in a new place with friends.
Buy Legal Cannabis – This only applies in states where cannabis has been legalized, but anyone can legally buy weed in certain states at age 21.
Get Your Pilot’s License – At age 21, you can apply for a license to fly commercial transport airplanes, helicopters, gyroplanes, and airships.
Apply to Adopt a Child – This is probably one of the new privileges that most 21-year-olds are fine to skip out on, but you can apply to adopt a child after your 21st birthday. You can also adopt a younger sibling of yours in necessary situations at this age.
Become an Uber/Lyft Driver – If this type of job interests you, you can finally apply to work as a diver for Uber or Lyft at 21! Keep in mind that your driving history also impacts your ability to work for these companies. Uber requires drivers under the age of 23 to have at least 3 years of licensing history, but Lyft only requires one year of licensing history for drivers who are 21.
House Party – Turning 21 is the perfect time to throw a house party at your house or a friend’s, and as long as everyone in attendance is 21+, you won’t need to worry about the party getting shut down or getting busted due to underage drinking.
Get Paid More – In some countries, you are entitled to full national minimum wage at age 21.
Get a Gun – Under the Gun Control Act, shotguns and rifles can be sold only to those 18 years of age or older. All firearms other than shotguns and rifles may be sold only to individuals 21 years of age or older.
Some states do not require a concealed carry permit, and in these states anyone 21 and over can carry a loaded, hidden firearm in public.
Buy Nicotine Products – In many states, you must be at least 21 to buy products that contain nicotine.
Donate Your Eggs – In some areas it’s earlier, but many states allow women to sell their eggs starting at age 21. This is one way to make a lot of money!
Sit in the 21+ Area at a Concert – Many concert venues have an area that’s restricted to those 21 and up, and some concerts only allow those 21+ anywhere in the venue due to alcohol availability. You can make the most of turning 21 by attending a 21+ concert or the roped-off 21+ area of a concert venue.
Drive a Large Vehicle – You can drive certain kinds of larger vehicles, like buses (with the appropriate license) once you turn 21.
Get a New Job – You can get certain types of jobs after you turn 21, such as becoming a driving instructor.
Teach Someone How to Drive – At 21, you can officially teach a driving permit-holder how to drive. Just remember that in certain states you must be a licensed driver for at least 5 years before you can be responsible for teaching another how to drive.
Wine Tasting – Wine tasting is a classy activity for you to engage in as a 21-year-old, and one you can enjoy with friends or family. It’s also relatively affordable at $15-$20 a person, depending on the class of the event.
Rent a Car – In certain areas, 25 is the magic age where you can rent a car, in others, it’s as low as 18 years old. Some fees may still apply if you are below 25, depending on where you are renting.
Buy Some 21st Birthday Merch – This is the one birthday you can buy balloons, candles, hats, etc. with the number 21 on them, so you might as well take advantage of the occasion!
Tell Someone You’re 21 – This should be one of the first things you do when you’re 21…tell the world! You’re sure to get at least a few sincere “congratulations!” in response. Who knows, maybe someone will even offer to buy you a drink.
Reminisce on Life as a 20-Year-Old – Birthdays are a great time to reflect on your experiences and growth over the past year. After turning 21, you can look back and journal about how it was being 20, both the good and the bad. It’s also a great time to set some intentions and goals for how you want to spend the coming year as a 21-year-old.
Plan Your 22nd Birthday Party – Once you turn 21 you can start brainstorming party ideas for your 22nd birthday, which better include dancing to “22” by Taylor Swift.
Things You Can Do Because You’re Out of the House
Buy a Plane Ticket – What better way to celebrate moving out of your parent’s house than traveling and seeing the world? Traveling is a great way to celebrate adulthood, independence, and experience the world in new ways.
Go on a Road Trip – Just pack up some supplies in your car and hit the road! Whether it’s a few hours from your hometown or a few states over, road trips can be an exciting and unforgettable experience.
Live With Friends – As an adult living on your own, you have more freedom surrounding who you live with. Moving out of your parent’s house is the perfect time to round up some friends and split the rent on a house or apartment. Living with friends can be really fun, just make sure you find roommates who clean up after themselves!
Decorate Your House In Your Own Style – Depending on the circumstances and requirements of your landlord, a fun thing to do when you move out on your own is to decorate your living space according to your own unique style and taste. This is possible to do on a limited budget, with some diligent thrift store and online second-hand shopping.
Get a Tattoo – Many young adults want tattoos but are afraid of their parent’s reactions or were restricted by certain rules while living under their parent’s roof. So, for many, getting a tattoo is at the top of their list of things to do after moving out.
Get a Piercing – If a tattoo seems daunting, a piercing is another option that’s less noticeable/permanent since most can be quickly/easily removed or taken out once they’ve properly healed all the way. Tattoos and piercings are, for many, a way to celebrate their individuality and independence as an adult.
Throw a Party – Celebrate your life on your own with a housewarming party, it can be as big or exclusive as you want, and you won’t have to worry about inconveniencing your parents or asking for their permission.
Have Friends Stay the Night – Having your own place means getting to have friends or a significant other stay the night whenever you want. Just remember to be respectful of your roommates, if you have any!
Pull an All-Nighter – Without parents or younger siblings to worry about, you can stay up all night and not have to worry about disturbing anyone (other than your neighbors).
Have a Movie Marathon – If you had strict parents who hated seeing you sit on the couch for hours on end, the perfect way to celebrate moving out of the house is with a movie marathon. You can watch movies back to back and not have to worry about disapproving looks or sharing the TV with younger siblings.
Play Your Music Really Loud – Your neighbors might come after you for this one, but blasting music on a Saturday while doing chores around the house can feel oh so freeing.
Get a Pet – Many grew up in homes where they weren’t allowed to keep a certain pet–or any at all–so as an adult living out of your parent’s house, getting a pet of your very own can be a special experience. Just be sure that you feel confident that you are ready for the additional responsibilities that will come with being a pet owner!
Dedicate a Space to a Hobby – If you have the space, clear a room or make a little spot just for you to enjoy a hobby like painting, playing an instrument, or working out.
Get a Trampoline – This one might not have crossed your mind when you thought about how to celebrate living on your own, but this one can be surprisingly fun. You can split the cost of a new one with your roommates, or if you’re lucky you can find a used one in good condition for a lot cheaper.
Buy All New Bedding, etc. – It’s good to have a small reminder of home here and there, but buying new bedding, sheets, towels, etc. will help you feel independent and brand new.
Host Family Members at Your Home – Something fun that my older siblings and cousins did once they moved out was let me and my other younger siblings stay at their house or apartment for a sleepover. It’s a great way to stay connected with younger siblings at home after moving out of the same house as them.
Make Dinner for Friends – Throwing a dinner party and making dinner for a group of friends is a great way to make your new living situation feel like home. It’s also fun to host others in your own space.
Make Friends With Your Neighbors – Moving away from home can feel isolating at times, so introduce yourself to others and try to make friends with your neighbors. This will make the neighborhood feel like a welcoming place and is a great way to make an unfamiliar and new neighborhood feel more familiar and homely.
Go for Walks – Taking walks nearby your new house will help you familiarize yourself with the new area and potentially lead to new friendships or relationships.
Decorate Your Mailbox – Along with decorating your house the way you want to, you can take the extra step and decorate your mailbox with a little extra flare to make every part of your new place feel like yours.
Plant a Garden – If you have the necessary yard space, planting a garden is another way to make your house uniquely yours and to take some pride in your living situation.
Buy a Car – Slowly transition into a life of complete independence by getting a car of your own in your name.
Get Rid of All Your Junk – This might require a trip back to your parents’ house, but consider going through all the possessions you’ve collected up to that point and getting rid of what you don’t need. Your parents are sure to appreciate this one!
Surprise Your Parents – Having a child move out is a difficult process for many parents, so consider surprising yours with an unexpected visit.
Write Your Parents a Note – After moving out is a great time to write your parents a thank you note for all the good things they did to help you out growing up.
Things You Can’t Do Until After 21 –
Rent a Car Without Extra Fees – In many states you can still rent a car at 21 but usually have to pay extra fees for being under 25. At 25, the renting process becomes much easier.
The good news is there are not a lot of age markers inhibiting you from certain experiences once you turn 21. As an adult, you are no longer limited by most legal age restrictions (if you’re wanting to run for president, sorry I have some bad news for you).
At 21, you are 2-3 years past the age of majority, depending on the state. Many consider 21 the last “exciting” birthday where big changes occur, so be sure to make it count!