In recent work, we have obtained improved measurements of the properties of the Milky Way and used the results to select a sample of Milky Way analog (MWA) galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) whose distributions of stellar mass and star formation rate match our Galaxy’s, incorporating all uncertainties. Relying on the Copernican assumption that the Milky Way should not be extraordinary, the colors and luminosities of the MWAs constrain the possible properties of our own Galaxy. This has enabled us to explore how our Galaxy fits in with the broader population; for instance, we can determine whether its properties are consistent with the power-law scaling relations exhibited by other spiral galaxies. The results have significant implications for the development of computational models of galaxy evolution in a cosmological context. I will also describe follow-up work exploring the population of satellite galaxies in Milky Way-like dark matter halos. It has been a long-standing puzzle why the Milky Way has considerably fewer satellite galaxies discovered to date than the typical number of satellite dark matter halos that would be found in a dark matter halo as massive as that which contains our Galaxy. I will show that almost half of this ‘missing satellites’ problem can be explained by well-established ways in which our Galaxy’s dark matter halo is atypical. Finally, if time allows I will also describe new work on the density profile of dark matter halos when mass within subhalos, which can often host individual galaxies, is not counted as part of the parent halo. Widely-used profiles (such as Navarro Frenk and White) perform poorly at representing the smooth centrally-concentrated component of the halo, but there are simple functional forms which do better.