Things You Can Do When You're 18

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

  • Turning 18 is a significant and important milestone in one’s life, and should not be taken for granted.
  • There are 5 important lessons and things you need to know about turning 18. Read on to find out what they are.
  • This article also gives you a comprehensive list of everything you can do when you turn 18 including fun things for 18 year olds to do and 18 years old legal rights.

18 is a pretty significant milestone age, and we tell you all about its significance in this article on What Is Special About The 18th Birthday. It’s the age where you are legally an adult, although there are still some limitations on what you can do and we will tell you all about them.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably 18 or about to turn 18 and are maybe wondering what kind of things you need to know when you turn 18, and what type of things (legal or otherwise), you can do when you turn 18. You are in the right place. In this article, we give you a comprehensive list of everything you can do when you turn 18, from the legal to the fun stuff. 

Disclaimer: We’ve spent a lot of time researching and writing this article. We update it when we find mistakes, please and enjoy this article for entertainment purposes only and speak to a lawyer if you have additional questions. 

Check out our other 18th birthday articles for great ideas about your 18th birthday.

What Changes When You Turn 18? Things To Know When You Turn 18.

Table of Contents

When you turn 18, the major change of significance is that you are now regarded as an adult. Never mind that you still have a lot of things to learn about adulthood and being one, everyone now thinks of you as an adult.

Well, maybe not exactly everyone. Mum and dad will most likely still see you as their little girl/boy, and you can even exploit this latter point to your advantage and ask them to give you a fitting and exciting 18th birthday to mark the (bitter)sweet entrance into adulthood. And if you wanted some mummy and daddy friendly 18th birthday ideas to share with them to get them on board at least, you will love our articles on How to celebrate 18th birthday for your son and How to celebrate 18th birthday for your daughter, so definitely check them out.

Turning 18 and becoming an adult, however, means that things change and certain expectations will now be had of you. While you may have been able to get away with some things before 18 under the guise of youthful exuberance, once you turn 18 you will be expected to exhibit traits and characters of adults and adulthood. Here are 5 lessons and things to know when you turn 18.

1. You Are Responsible For Your Actions.

You will be expected to take responsibility for every decision you take here on out, whether for good or for bad. This is not to put you under any pressure at all, but to emphasize the fact that if you were used to simply acting without thinking, that is an area you will need to make some major improvements on. Since you are considered an adult, no one would make any excuses for you or give you room for excuses either.

2. Your Actions Have Consequences, Especially Legal Consequences.

This is another important fact you should be aware of. In the next section we will list some 18-year-old rights and responsibilities, and what this means is that you can find yourself on the wrong side of the law if your actions do not match up the expectations of the law. Here are two very important legal consequences to have at the back of your mind:

You can be sentenced and serve jail time in a real prison and not a juvenile prison.

Given that you are no longer considered young or a juvenile, you will not enjoy the benefit of going to a juvenile prison. If for any unfortunate reason you are sentenced to serve a prison sentence, you will serve it in a real prison and prison is no fun place for anyone and most especially not for a new 18-year old adult.

Legal documents such as contracts are binding on you.

And this means that if you do not read between the fine prints and sign on the dotted lines, you will be held to the terms of the contract, whether or not they turn out to be favorable to you. And what this means, is that you should not take legal documents lightly or for granted. Ensure that you read everything before signing on the dotted line, and whatever you don’t understand, seek clarity first before signing.

3. You Have No Limitations, Except Legal Ones.

This is a beautiful reality of being an adult. The only limitations placed on you are legal limitations like no drinking of alcohol and a few others that will be discussed in the next section. Once you become an adult, the world becomes your oyster.

But remember the first two points about actions, consequences, and being responsible for them. While you may have no limits, it is still important to exercise discretion and wisdom in the decisions you make and the actions that you take.

4. You Have More Opportunities Available For You To Exploit.

Once you turn 18, the absence of limitations also means many more opportunities available for you to take. You can travel the world. You can get an actual job and be paid a salary or at least minimum wage. You can even be as bold and daring as buying a house or a car. You can do almost anything and everything you want. With the world of opportunities available for you out there, why not seize up as many as you can on your new journey to adulthood.

5. You Can Decide The Type Of Person You Want To Become.

This is arguably the most important thing to remember, and it sums up all the other 4. Once you become an adult, you and you alone can determine the course your life takes from that point. You are no longer shackled by restraints and parental expectations. You can choose to take a different path and follow your passion. You can choose to be anything and anyone you want to be.

And this point is what makes turning 18 so important. The person you choose to become at this point will define the rest of your adulthood. It will define the decisions you ultimately take, and the impact and long-term effect they will have on you. It will determine the opportunities you take and those you decide to let go of.

And so, as you turn 18, think long, hard, and carefully about the person you want to be as an adult. Define yourself, set your visions, realign your goals, and reorganize your priorities because this point will to a great extent, define and determine the direction of the rest of your adult life.

You will also like our articles on 17 Things You Can Do When You Turn 20 and What Can You Do When You Turn 21.

What Can I Legally Do At 18? 18 Years Old Legal Rights.

Here are important 18 year old legal rights and responsibilities that tells you what you can legally do (and not do) at 18:

1. You Can Vote.

Voting is an important aspect of democratic life in any country. It is your chance to make your voice heard in the affairs of your country and those who are entrusted with running it. One important right the law confers on you when you turn 18 is a chance to have your voice heard in deciding how our great country is run. Sadly, from the survey carried out by the U.S. Census Bureau in a 2018 report accessed via Statista, the statistics on voter participation by 18 – 24 year olds are not very encouraging.

Voter turnout rates among 18 to 24 year olds in U.S. presidential elections from 1964 to 2018. Source: U.S Census Bureau

Voter turnout rates among 18 to 24 year olds in U.S. presidential elections from 1964 to 2018

Change this narrative by exercising your legal right to vote whenever the opportunity presents itself.

2. You can join the army.

The army is another civic duty you can sign up for as soon as you turn 18. Men and women of the armed forces do a great job of protecting America from invasion by any enemy forces, as well as maintaining peace within the nation. It is a noble calling, and in case you were wondering the ratio of 18-year-olds in the army, you will be happy to learn that nearly 50% of the active enlisted personnel in the army are persons aged 25 years and younger, while in the Marine Corps, their ratio stands at above 70%, according to a 2018 report.

Percentage Ratio of 25 Year Olds and Younger In The U.S. DoD As of 2018. Source: Military One Source

Percentage Ratio of 25 Year Olds and Younger In The U.S. DoD As of 2018

So, if you’re considering it, definitely go for it.

3. You must register/join the Select Service if you’re a dude.

The Select Service is a conscription program of the government of the United States that is compulsory for all American males between the ages of 18 and 25. There are also penalties imposed if as a dude you turn 18 and do not sign up for it. Be sure to visit the Select Service website for registration and other important details.

4. You can carry our jury duty as part of your civic responsibility.

How cool right? So now, you can actually sit in judgment against your peers and make important decisions that affect them either for good or bad.

5. You can enter legally binding contracts.

That’s right. You can sign and reach contractual agreements with anyone, and it will totally have legal effect and results.

6. You can sue or be sued.

And if anyone gets on your nerves, you can sue them just for the heck of it. Okay, maybe not entirely. But if you needed to have legal recourse to vindicate your constitutional or other rights, you can do so in your own capacity without needing your parents or guardian to step in on your behalf.

In the same vein, if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, you can be sued, so be careful.

7. You can buy cigarettes, but not alcohol in the U.S.

This one is a funny one because you can work in a bar and sell alcohol to others, but you cannot partake of that alcohol because you’re not yet 21. Funny and weird right?

If you want to indulge in cigarettes, however, you are free to do so.

8. You can change your birth name if you want to.

We can’t imagine how that must make your parents feel but hey you are an adult now and you can do what you want and feel like. And if you want to change your birth name, you can legally do so. Be sure to find out what the applicable legal requirements are, in order to go about it the right way.

9. You can consensually have sex with someone 18 years and older.

No more worrying about underage sexual interactions. You can freely explore. Just be sure that your partner is 18 years or older and not underage.

10. Consent to your own vaccination.

Yup. You can decide what vaccinations you want or don’t want to take.

11. Start a family and even adopt a child if you want.

If you wanted to do something big and bold as you step into 18 and adulthood, this is definitely top of the list. Of course, starting a family comes with its share of responsibility so you may want to consider that first before going big and bold on this one.

12. Run for office in some States.

If you’ve always wanted to run for office at an early age, here’s your chance. Find out what States allows for this, and which offices you can run for and go for it. This is another big and bold 18th venture to embark on and totally worth it if you have the passion and drive for it.

Even though 18 may be the age where you legally become an adult, there are still some things you can’t do until you turn 21. These are some of the things you cannot do until you turn 21 and in some cases, 25:

Buy Or Take Alcohol.

This one is an interesting one because even though there is this legal restriction, 18-year-olds still take alcohol according to a 2019 survey accessed through Statista.

Current, binge, and heavy alcohol use between 18 – 20 year olds in the United States in 2019. Source: Statista

Current, binge, and heavy alcohol use between 18 - 20 year olds in the United States in 2019

But remember that the fact that everyone is doing what is wrong, does not make it right. You proceed with taking alcohol in the States at 18, at your own risk.

Buy Or Take Tobacco Or Marijuana.

Both of these require you to be 21 before you can buy or indulge in them.

Rent A Car.

Depending on the State, you may not be able to rent a car until you are 25. Some States place the restriction at 20 years, while others place it at 25.

Going To A Casino.

Depends, most states do not allow casino gambling yet until you turn 21, but there are a few exceptions like Minnesota, Idaho and Washington that allow casino gambling at age 18.

See our articles on turning 21 – Things to do for 21st birthday without alcohol and What to do on 21st birthday without friends.

What Are Some Funny Things You Can Do When You Turn 18? Fun Things For 18 Year Olds To Do.

Adulting is not a bore, and can be filled with fun. You can make it your type of fun. Maybe you want to take a cue from this 2017 survey that listed what outdoor activities 18 year olds enjoyed.

Most popular outdoor activities among 18 to 24 year olds in the United States from 2010 to 2017, by participation rate. Source: Outdoor Foundation

Most popular outdoor activities among 18 to 24 year olds in the United States from 2010 to 2017, by participation rate.

Other fun things you can do are:

13. Buy Your Own Pet.

Now you can buy your own cat or dog with your own money.

14. Fun adrenaline activities like skydiving, bungee jumping and paragliding.

If you’ve always dreamed of jumping off the plane with a parachute, now’s your chance to do so without a worry in the world about any restrictions.

15. Globetrotting.

You can officially travel alone so why not. Make Canada and Europe your first destinations if you are itching for some legal alcohol because you can legally take alcohol in some parts of Europe and Canada. Our article on Gifts For Someone Traveling To Europe has very helpful travel items for traveling to Europe and will be a useful read. And if you want ideas on affordable Europe holiday destination ideas, you can check out our article on 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Europe.

16. Tattoos and piercings if that’s your forte or something you’ve always wanted to try.

Remember though that there are health risks to both which you might want to read up on before going ahead.

What Can You Do At 18 That You Couldn’t Do Before? List Of Things You Can Do When You Turn 18.

Here are some really cool grown-up things you can do at 18:

17. Open A Bank Account.

Now you no longer have to worry dad or mum about having access to money. You can open your bank account and deal with money as you deem fit. Bank accounts can however be tricky with interest rates and service charges, so be sure to look up which bank offers the best and what they offer, before signing on any dotted lines. Remember legal consequences and all.

18. Open An Investment Account.

This one is a little different from your ordinary bank account in that it is not a transactional account but a form of savings account where you are setting aside a particular amount of money for a particular investment. The investment could be your own house, a car, or even a dream holiday. With this account, you don’t touch the money until the tenure for which you set it aside for expires. Different banks offer different packages so be sure to do some research before settling on one, but it’s a nice and good thing to kickstart as you turn 18.

19. Rent Your Apartment.

If you enjoy staying at home then this shouldn’t be something to consider. If however, you want your freedom to come and go as you please, then you are legally able to move out of home and rent your apartment.

20. Get A Paying Job.

How exciting right!? You can now earn your own money. Nothing is as exciting and liberating as making your own money and spending it as you want. Go for it!.

21. Work As A Realtor.

If you’ve always fancied the real estate industry and working as a realtor and selling real estate, this is your chance. The real estate industry is very lucrative and exciting. Definitely go for it.

22. Get A 10-year Passport.

You will need a passport for your globetrotting adventures. And even cooler is the fact that you can get one for 10 years and not need to bother again until you’re 28 years old.

Things You Can Buy At 18.

Some cool adult things that you can consider starting at 18 to invest in are:

23. Buy Stocks And Shares.

Stocks and shares are good long-term investments to get into as early as possible. They yield great dividends if done right. You can read this illuminating article by Investopedia on Understanding Shares and Stocks to get started.

24. An Apartment Or A Condominium.

A condominium is a section of apartments that you can purchase. It may seem like taking on a lot of financial responsibility at a go, and you can instead open an investment account to save up to be able to buy your condominium.

A better alternative will be saving up to buy one to rent out to make back the money spent on buying it. Being financially savvy is also important as you turn 18 because it will go a long way in your journey to adulthood. Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a great read in teaching the basics in simple and easy to follow language.

25. A Car.

This is another good purchase as you turn 18. You don’t need a fancy or new first car. You can opt for an affordable and good second-hand option. Having your car will make you feel great in ways you didn’t even think was possible. Since you can’t rent a car, having yours will come in handy now and again.

Frequently Asked Questions.

  • What can you do at 18 that you couldn’t do before?

Everything listed in this article are things you couldn’t do before but can now do at 18.

  • What happens when you turn 18 legally?

When you legally become 18, you are considered an adult and can do all the adult things listed in this article and more, except those set out as things that you cannot do until you turn 21.

  • What do I need to do when I turn 18?

You don’t need to do anything that you don’t want to do as an adult. And if you’re looking for a good list of things you can do when you turn 18, this article gives you a good list of 25 things you can do at 18.

  • What changes when you turn 18?

Your rights and responsibilities are the main things that change when you turn 18. You are regarded and will be treated as an adult.


Turning 18 is an important milestone that also comes with responsibilities. It can also be filled with fun. Always remember that whatever action you take has consequences whether for good or bad, and you are responsible for all your actions. Welcome to adulthood and have fun with our list of 25 Fun and Legal Things You Can Do When You’re 18.





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