An Analysis of America’s Firsts

There’s a first time for everything—whether it’s the electric jolt of excitement from a first concert or the nervous flutter of a first kiss, each first moment holds a meaningful memory that contributes to our life’s story. There are plenty of stereotypes and benchmarks for when these first moments should occur, but life often ensures milestones are reached at unpredictable times. 

Curiosity about these seminal moments led Ovid Life to seek out the age and circumstances of various firsts across the country. We surveyed people across the U.S., testing their memory bank of the age at which major firsts occurred. From the initial thrill of buying a first car to the dutiful responsibility felt casting a vote for the first time, the results explore how these experiences form the real-world timeline of American life.

The Timeline of America’s Firsts

A line chart showing how old Americans are when they first experience different life events

Are you wondering when you should have it all done? America says 21. Taking a glimpse at the timeline of America’s firsts, no wonder everyone likes to think back on their teenage and college years—that’s when the most milestones are met! Take a look at the breakdown of these pivotal moments by national standards.

The Average Age Americans First Experience…

  • First Plane Ride: The skies call to us early, with the average American taking their first flight at the young age of 12 years and 3 months. This first often opens youngins up to a world of travel and curiosity.
  • First Kiss: At approximately 14 years and 6 months old, many experience their first romantic peck, a moment of awkward beauty that most will never forget.
  • First Concert: By 15 years and 5 months, the rhythm of live music pulses through our veins for the first time, setting the stage for a lifetime of entertainment and fun.
  • First Date: This rite of passage unfolds around 16 years and 7 months, planting the seeds of future relationships.
  • First Pet: Shortly after the first date, the joy of a first pet teaches responsibility and unconditional love at 16 years and 8 months.
  • First Alcoholic Drink: By 16 years and 9 months, many have snuck their initial taste of alcohol, marking a controversial milestone toward adulthood.
  • First Job: Simultaneously, many Americans enter the workforce at 16 years and 9 months. From summer jobs to part-time employment, these first clock-ins open the doors to independence and financial responsibility.
  • First Broken Bone: The inevitable first broken bone tends to happen at 17 years and 7 months, often a testament to youthful resilience or daredevil pursuits.
  • First Time Having Sex: At 18 years and 4 months, the classic “first time” occurs. Enveloped in both significance and sensitivity, this first gets brought up a lot.
  • First Significant Relationship: Developing deeper connections, the first significant relationship starts around 18 years and 10 months, foundational to emotional growth.
  • First-Time Voting: Civic duty calls at 20 years and 6 months, as young adults step into the voting booth, ready to make their voices heard.
  • First Cell Phone: In a digital age, the first cell phone arrives at around 20 years and 12 months, although this has dramatically shifted in more recent years.
  • First Car Purchase: Similarly, the independence of a first car purchase occurs at 20 years and 12 months, a substantial step towards fiscal responsibility and personal autonomy.

America’s Firsts by Generation

The exact timing of these firsts varies dramatically by generation, highlighting the swift pace of societal change. One of the most striking shifts is the age at which individuals receive their first cell phones. Gen Z typically receives their digital limbs by 12 years and 6 months, whereas Baby Boomers waited until about 39 years old, reflecting the technological boom over recent decades. Today, waiting until age 39 for a cellphone is virtually impossible. 

Older generations exhibit patience—or perhaps necessity—in other areas as well. Baby Boomers, for instance, typically cast their first vote at 22 years and 2 months old, a contrast to Gen Z’s initiation at 18 years and 8 months. This variance not only underscores changes in legislation but also shifts in societal engagement and priorities over the years.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that the average age for moments like first cell phone, first vote, first plane ride, and first significant relationship consistently occurred younger for each new generation. It almost seems like each new generation is one-upping those that came before them. Maybe that’s why older generations often proclaim that kids today are growing up too fast—they’re certainly growing up faster than the generations that preceded them!

The States That Experience Life Events the Earliest

With varying cultures and laws, the timing of life’s milestones can differ dramatically from one state to another. To understand these regional nuances, we aggregated the ages reported for thirteen distinct life events to calculate an average “age of firsts” for each state. So, which states tend to experience these firsts … first?

States That Experience Things The Earliest

New Hampshire emerges as the state where residents experience life’s milestones the earliest, with an overall average age of 16 years and 5 months. Notably, New Hampshire residents tend to enter the workforce remarkably early, securing their first jobs at an average age of just 15 years and 6 months—the youngest of any state surveyed. Fittingly, they also get into post-work happy hour the youngest, taking their first sips of alcohol at 15 years and 10 months old.

Louisiana ranks second for experiencing life events at a younger age, with an overall average of 16 years and 7 months. Louisiana’s youth are all into love and music. They share their first romantic kisses at around 13 years and 3 months old, the earliest in the study. They also attend their first concerts exceptionally early, at an average age of 13 years and 7 months, making it the second youngest state for this event. 

Idaho rounds out the top three, with residents experiencing significant life firsts at an average age of 16 years and 7 months. Idahoans tend to make their first car purchases earlier than their counterparts in other states, typically buying their first set of wheels at 19 years and 8 months old. They are also civically active earlier, casting their first votes at an average age of 19 years and 3 months.

States That Experience Things The Latest

Conversely, some states tend to have later-than-average first experiences. Missouri is where residents encounter these milestones last, with an overall average age of 18 years and 4 months. Missourians tend to be older when attending their first concert, at 17 years and 3 months, and experience their first broken bones much later than most, at an astonishing 22 years and 11 months old. That one is probably a good thing. 

Tennessee follows closely, with an overall average age of 18 years and 1 month for their firsts. Tennesseans like to take it easy with their first significant relationships, usually at 19 years and 11 months old. 

Lastly, Michigan reports an overall average age of 18 years for experiencing first milestones. Michigan residents meet their first furry friends and go on their first dates later than most, at ages 18 years 5 months, and 17 years respectively, the oldest for these events.

Closing Thoughts

There’s a first time for everything, whether a classic milestone or a new adventure. Regardless, everyone’s life story is different and unique, and that’s what makes life worth living. Some music fanatics hit concerts when they’re a new teen; others save up until they can buy front-row tickets to their favorite band. Some high-school sweethearts share their first date and kiss right after they get their license; others choose to work on themselves until they’re ready to add someone to the equation. No matter what, the first time is just the first time. Who’s to say you can’t embark on the same adventure twice? Similarly, nothing is holding you back from trying something new today!

Reflecting on first times reminds us that life is full of exploration and new experiences. Every day is an opportunity to leap toward a new first. Don’t stop now! At Ovid Life, we help those who no longer need their life insurance policies cash out and put it towards a fulfilling life. Find out if you qualify and get an instant estimate today.


To determine the timeline of America’s firsts, we surveyed residents from every state over two weeks in March 2024 and asked them questions about how old they were (rounded to the nearest year) when they experienced different life events. We removed data points in the instances where individuals haven’t yet experienced the events we asked about.