The best age to hit 5 of life's biggest milestones.

There are, apparently, certain milestones a person ought to tick off during their lifetime…

Some of you (key word: you) already have your life-plan sorted. You know exactly when you want to be engaged (he just doesn’t know it yet); exactly how many kids you want, when you want them, and what you’re going to call them; and you’re so boring stable in your career choices, that you know you’ll have enough money by the age of 60 to retire with, so that’s the rest of your life sorted. Ups to you.

For the rest of us, who have absolutely zero clue when anything is likely to happen, (because I have a hard enough time showing up in the morning, let alone planning for kids, dammit), there are, apparently, a number of milestones to look out for throughout the course of life… Moving out of home, wedding bells, pattering feet, blissful ‘golden years’ (not always in that order).

And, according to experts there are ideal ages for us to partake in these events if we want to reduce the risk of ‘failure’ .

(By ‘failure’ we’re meaning those things that aren’t really failures, they’re just those audacious and sometimes-heart-wrenching ‘learning opportunities’ – i.e. divorce, business closures, moving-out-of-home-then-moving-back-into-home-because-you-realise-you-can’t-actually-afford-anything… Millennials, I’m looking at YOU.)

To help guide you in the process of life sans life-plan, here are the milestones. And here are the ideal ages. Ready. Set. Go.

Moving out of home

The property market is conspiring against us on this one. Sure, when you were a child you thought you’d well and truly be free of your parent’s nest by the time you were at least 25. Jokes, just kidding, you didn’t realise Sydney was a property market for millionaires and investors, did you? At least you can save on venue hire when it comes to dirty 30 celebrations…

Nearly a quarter of people aged 20-34 in Australia are currently living with their parents, and this increases to 27% in cities like Sydney and Melbourne. More than half of those aged 25-29 have moved out, and then moved back home again… usually citing money problems for doing so.

But what about the ideal age? According to research by the University of Melbourne’s Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, people who moved out of the family home between 21 and 24 were in the best financial standing in terms of income and asset wealth when they reached the ages of 35-54. Those who lingered in the family home longer, or left home before the age of 18, were less likely to be so financially secure later in life.

Read: Get on it, Millennials.




This one, usually, involves two people, and is not solely dependent on when your’re ready. But experts say there is an ideal age for marriage, and that is between 30 and 34.

According to new research, marriage under the age of 20 brings with it a 32% risk of divorce within the first five years. Marriage between age 20 and 24 bears a 20% risk; marriage between 25 and 29 has a 15% risk; and nuptials between 30 and 34 carries a 14% chance of divorce.

Beyond 34, the risk starts to increase again, climbing to 19% for ages 35 and up.


Having kids

If magazine covers are anything to go by, 40 is the new 30 when it comes to having kids. With reproductive technology, age is no longer a ‘barrier’ when it comes to child bearing – between Michelle Bridges and Susan Sarandon, anything is possible, right?

Wrong. but there are a few factors involved here. The ‘ideal’ age physiologically, for a woman to bear children is when her eggs are still relatively young and fertile – i.e. in her twenties. For most (me included) this will sound like an utter impossibility.

Different research, which looked into the best age for avoiding birth defects, found the ideal age for pregnancy to be 26 (still not possible for a lot of us). Other studies, that have looked to the overall health of the baby, as well as the mother’s physicality and wellbeing, have shown the ‘ideal’ age of pregnancy, to be around 31 and 32.

Researcher John Mirowsky, from the University of Texas at Austin, told Huffington Post the social benefits of women leaving childbirth to their 30s outweigh the physical benefits of bearing children in their 20s. He said, twenty-somethings can “reasonably expect optimal health outcomes from delaying motherhood into their thirties.”


Peak career & entrepreneurship

Peak success obviously changes with what you define ‘success’ by. If we’re talking peak-pay, women are looking at 39 and men are looking at 48, according to analysis from PayScale.com.

The research found both men and women see around a 60% increase in salary between ages 20 and 30, a period where everyone’s climbing the corporate ladder with gusto, job-hopping and finding new opportunities. After this, things start to slow down a little – particularly for women who, as we know, continue to draw the shortest of the pay-rate straws.

By age 39 most women’s salaries have grown only 20%, since their 30-year-old-status. And, after 39, women can expect hardly any further growth in renumeration. Men, on the other hand, see salary rises well into their 40s, with peak-pay landing (theoretically) only a couple of years from retirement.


According to another report, by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the median male worker in his mid-50s is making about 127% more than he did when he was starting out in his career. Women’s salary changes were harder to gauge, because of disruptions caused by that small, little thing called child-bearing.

If you’re a woman, the idea of starting your own business is likely looking more and more attractive.

Thankfully, your ship hasn’t sailed with the Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world, and you don’t need to be a young, tech, nerd genius to make millions doing your own thing.

report into entrepreneurship, conducted by the Kauffman Foundation in Missouri in the U.S., surveyed 549 companies and found the average age of the founder when their company was started was 40…. Perfect for women, who hit peak-pay at 39.

You also don’t need to be a university drop-out to be a successful entrepreneur – Steve Jobs, eat your heart out – 95% of the founders surveyed had graduated from university, and almost half held advanced degrees.



If you’re anything like me, retirement seems baffling. I do not understand how it works, and how I will ever be able to afford to live without working. But apparently, it’s a thing. And it happens. Unless you’re like my 90-year-old doctor who will still be writing scrips from his death bed, I’m sure of it.

In Australia, you can currently access superannuation from either 50 or 60, depending on when you were born. You’re also eligible for the pension by 67 at the latest.

The ‘best’ age of retirement depends on who you are. Young (possibly delusional) workers, expect to retire by the age of 52, according to a survey by Deloitte Access Economics. Older workers are predicting they will work until at least 63, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Regardless of which camp you prefer, the ideal age for retirement is, arguably, when you have enough money to do so comfortably. According to the ASFA Retirement Standard a healthy, home-owning couple should have saved at least $645,000 to live comfortably in retirement. A healthy, home-owning single person should have at $545,000 put away.

So…. About that pay rise (I’m a long way off 39, I swear)?

Watch next: Millennials fight back against their own awful reputation.