If you have read my articles with any regularity, you have probably noticed my spotted pooch in almost every article. (Not that I’m a crazy dog lady, but you know, I have my priorities.) I have also talked about how hard it is to rent with animals in this town. Nothing against landlords that don’t allow pets – I TOTALLY get it, but it just makes it hard for the responsible pet owners. And maybe I should really be saying that irresponsible pet owners who are bad renters make it hard for responsible pet owners to rent. Having lived in most areas of town, I have had the luxury of figuring out where I fit in the best with my cat and dog in tow. I have had the time to build my dream house in my mind many times over, the leases to test run several houses and condos, and there are a few things that are on the top of my list for my future residence:

1. A grass yard is a NEED.
2. A dog friendly trail within walking distance is a NEED.
3. A longer trail, something over 3 miles within walking distance is a NEED.
4. More than one trail in my general area. Variety is the spice of life.
5. Close to work. As much as I love driving….
6. Does it already have hardwood floors, or, how much would it cost to put in hard wood floors?
7. Do I have off street parking?
8. How many hills are between me and work? I hate icy roads in the winter.
9. Is there a garage?
10. Can I fence in a yard and put in a doggy door?
Though I think it’s good to narrow down the most important qualities when looking for a place to rent or own, I also understand that no place is perfect and that it will be many, many years until I am living in the home that not only fills all of my desires but is also without “home improvement projects”. And that’s ok. I think that my desires will change over time anyways, so it’s kind of like trying to nail down a moving target at this point. I have some needs, and I have a LOT of wants, and understanding the difference between the two has made my journey a lot easier.

I have always enjoyed going to open houses to window shop and look at how other people set up their homes. To think of my wants and needs, and see how other people in my town have built their homes to fill different aspects of their lives always interests me. A lot of people here are hunters, and though I’m not very good on the whole interior decorating thing, I do really enjoy the hunting lodge look and feel. If you have the chance, you should really read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (PS I’m not getting anything for recommending this book). I really like the look and feel of our wood forest service cabins, the natural earth tones, the plaid; and being a photographer I love having favorite memories around the house. But I’m also a minimalist, and I hate the feeling of clutter and too many distracting visual lines. Google images is a wonderful thing, and it has helped give me some direction on decorating, so when I have to buy or replace the little things around my house I keep in mind the overall look I want to slowly move towards.

Unless you are getting a home custom built, or buying new construction where you can still give them your input on some things, the reality of home buying is that you are going to take what is available, and shape it to fit what you want. I haven’t met a single person who bought their house and absolutely every single aspect was exactly what they wanted – at least not if they lived there for multiple years. So having a general idea of how the functionality of the space will work for you, and keeping your wish list in the back of your mind, is always good when looking at property. So with that in mind, I bought my dog and cat a condo.

Having lived around town I think that the airport trail is a really wonderful all-season trail. In the summer it is muddy paws and chuck it balls. In the winter cross country skiers set a track and every now and then the airport plows the trail. In the spring and fall the meadows are a wash of flowers and fall colors. The crisp smell of the ocean and the afternoon sea breeze helps keep the bugs off and makes the hot summer days more tolerable. So, having narrowed down the best place for me to live, I then started my hunt for housing in my budget. My friend knew of a condo that would be coming up for sale in her association, and I asked her to give the family my contact information. It was a town house, end unit, and the best part is the massive shared grass yard in addition to the little front yard for each condo. It is under a five-minute walk from the airport trail, and on Berners Avenue I was able to meet so many of my needs and wants: a huge grass yard, multiple trails nearby, one longer trail just down the street, off street parking, NO hills between me and work, and the condo already had hard wood floors. This little town house was able to meet so many of my desires, that not having a garage, a doggy door, or a fenced yard are wants that I can live without for now.

Now don’t get me wrong, when I fed my dog a new type of food and she was super sick and waking me up every two hours to go explode in the yard all night on a Sunday night, I was very sad that I didn’t have a doggy door so she could let herself out. And staying home the whole next day with her would have been solved if I could have just put her in a fenced yard and checked on her at lunch. But, the tradeoff is a more reasonable mortgage, not having to worry about mowing the yard, plowing the snow, painting the building, or anything else that comes with owning a single family home. So, while I’m young, I will get up every other hour to let Kiska out when she gets sick or drinks too much water before bed. I will listen to my nerdy neighbors when they get super excited playing their video games, and one day, I will have my own garage. But until then, I will be happy here in a small enough house that when I plug my vacuum cleaner into the right outlet I can vacuum the whole house without having to change the outlet.

Courtney Wendel has lived in Juneau since she was a year old. She has a twin brother and an older brother, and learned to enjoy the outdoors at a young age by following the boys into mischief. Graduating from JDHS in 2006, she attended UAS to receive her Literature of the Environment, BA English degree. When not at work she spends most of her time on the diverse trail system hiking, running, or camping with her spotted pooch and adventure buddies.