30 Things You Should Own By Age 30

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If you’re obsessing about turning 30, you’re not alone. For some reason, the big 3-0 has become THE mile-marker that signifies official “adulthood.” It’s kind of funny to think about, because you’re definitely also an adult in your twenties, even though it may feel like you’re still a big kid inside.

On the other hand, we probably will always feel like big kids on the inside. I’d be willing to bet that 50, 60, 70 year-olds somehow feel like they’re still 10, 11, 12. Our hearts don’t change nearly as much as our bodies.

That said, just because we still love to watch ‘90s TV shows or eat a Pop Tart now and then doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t embrace the changes that come with growing up and settling into our “adult” selves. And while a lot of that change comes from within, there are some external and material things that are also bound to shift as you slip from one decade into the next.

With that, here are 30 things that we should all have by the time we turn 30.

1. A legit coffee maker.

If you’re still using your clunky generic coffee maker from college, it’s time to invest in something a little better. It doesn’t have to be a Keurig if you’re not into that whole thing, but that tiny little Mr. Coffee needs to go. And if you’re not a coffee drinker? A fancy teakettle.

2. A high-end blowdryer.

We know that the $20 blowdryers at the drugstore are tempting, but they will also ruin your hair, and they will probably catch fire eventually if you don’t clean them. It’s worth spending a little more money and purchasing one that boasts a technology that will help protect your hair from the heat.

3. Quality skin care products.

As much as you might not want to think about eye cream or night cream or all those other types of creams…start thinking about them. Not because you’re “old,” but because they’ll help your skin feel amazing.

4. A big bed. With fresh sheets.

It’s basically a law that once you graduate college, you need to have a bed that could theoretically sleep two people. And you have to change the sheets on a regular basis. And maybe invest in some high-end sheets; they’ll feel endlessly comfy and you’ll never want to leave your bed, ever.

5. A good pair of boots.

Skip the inexpensive ones that are bound to fall apart and invest in a pair that will last you for at least half a decade.

6. A grown-up winter coat.

There’s a reason why some winter coats are pricey; they contain materials and technology that are designed to actually keep you warm. Which is worth paying for.

7. A system for dealing with your mail.

Remember on New Girl when Schmidt goes crazy trying to come up with a system for organizing the mail? We feel his pain. There’s no reason why your mail should end up in a pile on the table every day — or worse, inside a junk drawer.

8. And a system for dealing with your makeup.

Just think about how Instagrammable all your makeup will be once it’s organized into cute little compartments! If you don’t wear makeup, you’ll save even more time on this. 

9. A bag that you can rely on.

It can be a handbag or a tote bag, but it should be a good bag. Like the boots and the coat, it can be more financially sound to invest in a pricier bag that will last you a long time rather than spending $20 or $30 on something that’s cute, but will fall apart within months.

10. Decent cleaning supplies and appliances.

If your apartment or house has carpet, you need a good vacuum cleaner. If you have hardwood, make sure you have good supplies on hand to keep your wooden floors in good shape.

11. Some kind of dining room table.

I’m not saying that you should never eat dinner on the couch, but that shouldn’t be your only option.

12. An actual set of pots and pans.

You’ll be surprised how much you actually use them once you own them.

13. Dishes that match.

The random dishes should probably stop after you graduate college or grad school. You don’t have to drop a ton of money in order to get dishes that match one another, either — places like Ikea offer plenty of cute sets for all kinds of budgets.

14. A high quality set of knives.

Not only will you feel like you’re a contestant on Top Chef, you’ll actually be much safer in your kitchen. There’s nothing more dangerous than cooking with dull or low-quality knives.

15. Sturdy hangers for your clothes.

Say goodbye to the wire hangers from the dry cleaners. Invest in a set of wooden or cloth-covered sturdy hangers to keep your clothes from getting creased while in your closet.

16. A good amount of tupperware.

Higher quality tupperware will also last longer than the flimsy kind that you may find in the grocery store.

17. And a method for storing said tupperware.

Don’t become that lady in the commercial who gets buried by an avalanche of containers when she opens her cabinet. Like the mail and the makeup, you need a system that works for you.

18. A fully-stocked tool kit.

Make sure you have the essentials, like a screwdriver, hammer, and a power drill. You never know when you’ll need them.

19. Bartending utensils and accessories.

Even if you’re not a big drinker, it’s a good idea to have the basics on hand. It doesn’t hurt to own a set of wine glasses, cocktail tumblers, a corkscrew, bottle opener, and martini shaker. Especially if you plan on entertaining, even just once in a while.

20. A laundry hamper that’s different from the one you had in college.

But seriously, throw that away. Invest in a hamper that’s sturdy, with compartments, and looks like it actually belongs in your home.

21. A system for organizing books and movies.

That is, if you still own DVDs. It’s easy to shove things on a shelf and call it a day, but that can add to clutter pretty quickly. Luckily, there’s lots of cute furniture pieces out there to help with organization, like ottomans that contain storage.

22. A collection of staple recipes.

To be cooked in your full set of pots and pans, of course.

23. Basic office supplies.

Even if you don’t always need them, it’s good to have basic things like scotch tape, stamps, post-its, and some sort of stationery on hand. While we live in a digital world, office supplies can just make you feel ~grown up~.

24. A reliable LBD.

You just need one (or maybe a handful) of these in your closet. And if dresses aren’t your thing, an LB-pantsuit.

25. High quality luggage.

If you travel often, this is a total necessity. And even if you only travel occasionally, it’s worth having a reliable suitcase (preferably with wheels and a handle) that can hold a lot. Say goodbye to your over-the-shoulder duffel or backpack.

26. A dopp kit or toiletry bag.

Please don’t carry your toiletries in plastic bags anymore. Just, please. Don’t.

27. An arsenal of socks and undies.

Think of it this way — the more socks and undies you have, the less frequently you need to do laundry. Even your college self would be down for that.

28. Shampoo and conditioner that won’t ruin your hair.

The shampoo and conditioner that they sell at the drugstore is cheap for a reason. And it will hurt your hair eventually. It’s worth investing in some better quality products, and figuring out how to wash your hair less frequently.

29. And an up-to-date razor.

We know that sometimes it’s easy to forget to change the blades on our razors, but it’s important to do so. Dull blades are often the cause of many nicks and cuts, which are the most annoying things to deal with when trying to get ready for work.

30. Last but not least: the willpower to throw away what you truly do not need.

The nostalgia is real when it comes time for spring (or fall) cleaning. It’s hard to part with items of clothing or other pieces of memorabilia from college and other years past. But think –- saying goodbye to the things that are truly not necessary will make room for all the new things that you need for your newfound adult life.

De is a New Yorker turned Bostonian and a lover of all things theatrical. In addition to writing, she is an actress/singer/dancer/teacher and owner of the fluffiest cat imaginable. She is on Twitter.

Image via Unsplash

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  • Tobi

    I’m 32 and was fully expecting this to be a ridiculous list of unnecessary items, but it’s actually great! The only things I disagree with are the boots and coat. I have both of those things, but I live in California and almost never wear them except when I travel. So I would say those are negligible depending on where you live. And to those who are afraid of the big 3-0, don’t be! They are so much better than the 20s!

    • Holly Trantham

      If you have a list of essentials for living in warmer climates, I’m sure we’d love to hear them!

      • Tobi

        I would replace those two things with a bathing suit that is flattering, makes you feel great, and holds everything in place and a sunscreen routine. My bf and I probably have 2-3 tubes of sunscreen in the house in addition to a spray can and I have two different ones for my face. If you have oily skin like I do Cover|FX makes an incredible sunscreen primer that is expensive but amazing. Nobody wants to look like an old handbag by the time they turn 50!

    • Anni

      Also going to guess that de Elizabeth does not live in a small apartment in the big city – I don’t live in NYC anymore, but when I did things like crappy wire hangers/slim non-wood hangers were space savers, as was having a kitchen counter that doubled as a dining table. It’s funny how location can make all the difference.

      • Tobi

        I have been using wooden hangers for some years and LOVE them! But I do agree that they take up a ton of space. I do the capsule wardrobe thing so I don’t typically have very many clothes in my closet at once.

      • Fun fact! I live in a quite small Boston-area apartment. 🙂 My dining room table is small but I have one. I’m guilty of using crappy wire hangers because my closet is small but I hate how they make my clothes all crinkly, so I’m trying to use more wooden ones.

    • Court E. Thompson

      Yes! I just turned 30 and this list is actually quite good, though 3-5 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought so. Not everything applies to me but A. Nothing ever does and B. Everything doesn’t always have to apply to me to make it a good list.

  • Phoebe Prentice Terry

    Agreed Im so glad I startes using good skincare five years ago. Those men from college who scoffed at me for having clarins cleansing milk in my bathroom because ‘they only use soap’ now all have rough skin that is aging horribly. Hahahaha! Stuupid boys.
    Also a good hair brush, umbrella and a watch are wise investments.

    • Seconding the umbrella! You never think about it until you need it.

    • Tara

      I will totally disagree on the umbrella — I’m constantly losing mine. I thought buying a nicer one would help me keep an eye on it better but no, I forgot it at the DMV. IMO sunglasses, headphones, and umbrellas should always be bought on the cheap because they’re so likely to get lost or broken.

  • jdub

    That tool set is so important! You don’t realize how handy having one of your own will be… until you live alone and want to hang up all of your photos, and have to use one of your shoes as a hammer.

    • Roselyne

      When I moved out of my parents home, my mom set up my kitchen with spices and flour and basic baking supplies, and my dad set me up with a basic tool set. Probably cost under 250$, total, but MAN it made such a huge difference. If anyone wants to do that for their kid? +++ recommending, and made way more of a difference than handing me that cash would have. 🙂

      • jdub

        Yes! When I first moved out my mum went to Wal-Mart and got me all the essentials for a kitchen (ie assorted spices, basic groceries, a broom/dish rack/mirror for the bedroom, etc.) I was very, very lucky that she thought of it, or else I would have been screwed the next day when I broke a dish a had a broom to sweep up the glass!

  • Shoutout to the people who don’t necessarily have the means to acquire all of these items by 30.
    Lists like this can be helpful if you have money in your budget for life upgrades and are wondering where to begin, but they can be a double-edged sword in that they have the potential to look like a checklist of all the reasons someone is failing at being an adult. Sometimes we pack things in plastic bags but we’re prioritizing spending our money on the plane ticket, and not nice luggage. It doesn’t mean we’re disqualified from being grown-ups!
    This is a good list of goals, and a great thing to keep in mind. I just worry about people (like me) feeling inadequate, and potentially hurting themselves financially to live up to a certain standard – something that I know TFD is not about.
    (*I know this was not the author’s intent, nor TFD’s, and am commenting not to criticize the author but to reassure readers like myself! Please do not take this as hate-mail – I love this website and will be bookmarking this page to return to when I’ve got money to spend on little lifestyle-upgrades!)

    • jdub

      A good thing to remember when reading things like this: if you have the means to acquire these things through alternatives, then do it! I managed to collect a full set of dishes when friends moved house, and thrift stores/dollar stores are great for things like organizational sets and little matching containers for things you need to store 🙂

  • FB

    Some of these seem a bit iffy to be on a “things you SHOULD have” list. For example, I have no interest in eye cream, and I grew up in a house with gloriously mismatched dishes. I’m also not sure what a generic coffee maker is, and I am perfectly happy with my current laundry hamper.

    I don’t mean to be snarky, I promise – but I think I agree with commenter Miranda B. who says that not everyone has the means to get all these items, and maybe not even the desire. Don’t get me wrong, most of these items are great recommendations, but some of them I wouldn’t consider as essential tools of adulthood.

    • I think that’s probably the intention, but “Things That Are Good to Have if You Decide They Apply to You and Your Lifestyle” just isn’t as catchy a title.

  • nicolacash

    I agree with the coffee maker – I have a french press to make cold brew, and got a Keurig super on sale for $50. Definitely worth it!

  • Roselyne

    Agreed with almost all of these.

    Personally, I’ve replaced having a hairdryer with having a hairdresser who can cut my hair in such a way that it look good after drying naturally, but I HATE drying my hair and live in a place where a decent haircut costs 22$, so… 🙂

    And for Canadian readers: if you’re looking for dishes, I highly recommend the Gluckstein Home Catering collection from The Bay – when we got them, a set of 12 large plates, small plates, and bowls was about 100$, though the price may have changed. We’ve had them for 5 years and a toddler, and have broken one (seriously: 1) small plate, and not a single other one has chipped. The Ikea ones at half that price were chipped to all hell within a year.

  • Nom

    Please expand on the shampoo thing. Am I really ruining my hair? Pls halp.

    • Probably not? There are plenty of really good brands at drugstores that are not necessarily “drugstore brands.” I found that point especially confusing.

    • Itsonreserve

      Not at all. From a scientific standpoint, the prices on the market do not correlate to quality AT ALL, and many high end shampoo brands can be very damaging. TheBeautyBrains is an awesome blog run by two cosmetic chemists that do very thorough explanations and reviews; it may be worth it to search the site for your favorite products to see if there is a a review or something. Reddit also has a curly haired subreddit and one called haircarescience which are both really good.

  • nycnative

    Why is it necessary to create false ideals like these? No one “has” to have any of these things by any age. I understand the idea behind this list and I agree that as we get older and make more money it’s nice to upgrade to nicer things and it’s important to be organized (obviously), but I flat out reject any listicle telling me what I “should” have (spotlight on the martini shaker – what??) No thanks.

    • Summer

      Why is it necessary to take listicles so personally? The internet seems to be filled with people who have an inability (or an unwillingness, at least) to read articles with a grain of salt. Just because this list doesn’t necessarily pertain fully to your interests or your particular lifestyle does not mean that the author is creating “false ideals” or implying that one should spend their money on something that isn’t important to them.

      If you’re not into coffee, then no, a quality coffee maker probably isn’t at the top of your priority list. If you don’t drink much alcohol, sure, it’s understandable that you won’t care about bar accessories. If you think mismatched dishes are the most charming thing that can happen to someone’s kitchen, you probably don’t give a crap that you can get a full set of matching plates and bowls at IKEA for 20 bucks. That’s all fine and good. Just read these kinds of articles with the self-awareness to know when something might apply to you and move on when it doesn’t. It’s not that serious.

      • nycnative

        To start, I don’t read TFD or any website or blog to read “articles with a grain of salt.” I read because I think it’s worth my time – for useful, helpful content. And the issue with the piece isn’t that it doesn’t “pertain fully to my interests,” the issue is that I disagree with the principle it evokes, which is that by a certain age, an “adult” has a specific list of “adult” items.

        There are many ways to live productively and responsibly in this world, and I find listicles like this not only promote needless consumerism (i.e. you need to have a “high end blow-dryer,” a “grown up winter coat,” a “good amount of tupperware” or a “legit coffeemaker”) and they also promote homogeneity and sameness. I don’t want to live in a world where we all buy the same things and aspire to the same ideals. Adulthood, to me, means figuring out who you are, what you want, what’s important to you, what makes you different, what you truly value — and then arranging your finances and life accordingly. Adulthood is not kowtowing to society’s ideals of how you should live. That’s why I objected to the piece.

  • CaityB

    What. I don’t understand. What is this list. Consuming based on artificial ‘needs?’ Especially half-aspirational, half age-shame-based ‘needs?’ This isn’t Cosmo. TFD is better than this. TFD questions things like this. TFD finds the biases and presumptions in lists like this and calls them out. Ditto what another commenter said about growing up with mismatched dishes and wtf is a generic coffee maker anyway. No, dishes do not in fact ‘need’ to be matched to anything. We’re not living in a castle in the era of the Titantic. I read TFD because TFD is better than this. I feel sad now. FWIW, this is a nicely written article on what seems to be the wrong website. The author did a perfectly decent job and no fault to her, but why did TFD pick this article up? – Signed – a chronic TFD reader.

  • shway

    Some of these points don’t give compelling reasons. What’s a ‘real’ coffeemaker? Why will a drugstore blowdryer ruin my hair? As someone who’s three years away from turning 30, this wasn’t really helpful. I wrote a rebuttal, in which I agree with some points but not all, if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/2d4F5qe

    • Read and liked your rebuttal! I’m also working on a sort-of-rebuttal, that is less a rebuttal and more “30 Non-Material Things You “Should” Have By 30″, which will include a huge disclaimer that it’s a list of goals, and not a list that is intended to shame or intimidate anyone. I am trying to take this original article in the spirit that it is meant, though – I am sure the author, and TFD, never meant to insinuate that if you don’t have these things, you are failing.

      • shway

        I feel like the article was really more about getting past old college habits, and I’m sure the intention of the article wasn’t intended to be shaming in any way. I probably sounded a little sharper in my rebuttal from sleep deprivation. 🙂 Let me know when yours is posted, I’d like to read it!

      • kf

        Please don’t write that disclaimer. Write an article that you think best serves your audience. And then just own it. Some people will agree, some people will disagree. But if your article is presented well, it wouldn’t need a giant flashing neon sign of a disclaimer presenting how the reader should interpret it.

  • Judith

    Reading the comments I’m somewhat surprised how strong the word “should” can be. I don’t agree with all the points De makes but I never got the notion that she meant to argue about them or shame anyone for having different ideas. I think this article is more like a “This is what I think should help you keep your shit together”. Wouldn’t make for a great title, though. 🙂
    Still, it’s a great collection of things that help you to “adult”. Bonus points for the fluffiest cat imaginable!

  • NL

    Re: knives. One 6″-8″ REALLY good chef’s knife can get just about any job done. We got a block for ~$150 and I used about 2 of the knives on it regularly for a year before they started to suck. I managed to score a $130 Zwilling JA Henckels 7″ chef’s knife new for $7 and it’s about the only one I use now- it cuts like BUTTTTTAAAAAA.

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