Topanga has pluses and minuses. Your inividual experieince will depend upon 1) your stage of life, 2) the neighborhood you choose, 3) the house you can afford, 4) where you you work.
Don't let anyone fool you. The TCB/PCH commute sucks. 25 years ago, My commute from 90290 to Santa Monica was 20 minutes, less than 5 hours a week total. Last week, my drive home took over 80 minutes (4 out of 5 days). If you work on the westside and keep normal business hours expect to spend 7 - 12 hours per week commuting. The plus side is you'll be stuck in one of most picturesque settings in So Cal. Or you can leave the canyon before 7 am, leave SM before 2 pm or after 7 pm.
In 1993, we came within 7 seven feet and 23 minutes of losing everything, including our lives. (Up here in the canyon, we mark time by fires and significant mud slides) Even after that experience, I'm not that concerned about fire. I'm more concerned about how the vast majority of my neighbors will react and their abject lack of common sense. We have a few YaHoos who actually protest the removal of dead brush and trees in the interest of preserving the "scenic corridor". We have many self-centered crybabies who park cars on the narrow side streets, rather than their own driveways, or rent rooms for which they can not provide off street parking. Honestly I don't know how a fire truck will get into some these street and cars will get out. I's a disaster waiting to happen. When CHiPs issues tickets (as they should) you always have large number of idiots crying harassment. My advice, at the first hint of smoke, get in your car and get out. Don't hesitate. Just go. Calmly. Quickly. The less people around, the clear the streets, the less flamible materials, the better for LACoFD. And have good insurance with code upgrade.
All that said, I really like living here. And pretty much everybody who visits my home is envious (except those who already live in the canyon).
Topanga is a well-kept secret and we Topangans enjoy that. If you need to be in Southern California for business reasons, you can't find a safer, more beautiful place to live. Topanga is a small city, but the population is that of a village. It is a tight-knit community of nature lovers and people who adore a strong sense of community. We are accountable for our actions, care deeply about our neighbors and nurture our environment.
It's also a place where people are affected and transformed by the natural world. This is a powerful way of living, as it teaches life lessons on many levels. I would agree that the changing ways of the natural world with it's responsibilities and sensibilities is not for everyone. We have an expression up here in Topanga which is, "Don't change Topanga, let Topanga change you".
Wildfires are a part of nature and living in a forested environment, but Topanga is a well-prepared community and it's citizens are extremely vigilant. We have a well-developed, emergency response relay throughout the canyon and participate in regular drills. The Pacific Coast Highway, like all major highways in Los Angeles, can be quite busy at times, but it also has it's rhythms one can easily become attuned to for ease of traveling.
Property values are excellent and in my experience, there is home waiting for anyone who truly wants to find their special place here.
Like most places, if you have a friend that lives here you're more apt to come and enjoy the community and eventually fall in love...
To learn more about our beautiful canyon call me for a tour! You can also visit my website: http://www.tanyashouses.com
Additionally, there's a website created by our very own Town Council - http://www.onetopanga.com
Topanga is totally under the radar, and is an excellent place to live! You get a lot of "Bang for Your Buck" here and you can actually live with nature surrounding you - Beautiful mountains, oak trees, birds, and hiking trails. There is no more fire danger in Topanga, than there is in Malibu! Topanga is super convenient to Santa Monica, Malibu, and the Valley when you need your Target (Tar-jay). For those looking to get out of the bustling "City", whlie still being "Close-By," Topanga is the perfect choice. Topanga attracts many artists, musicians, writers, nature lovers and boasts a thriving community full of art, hiking, nature, trees, and more. Whether your coming from Malibu, Topanga, or Palisades you will hit some traffic on PCH if you are going into Santa Monica in the morning. You just have to a lot time for it... it's not that bad.
I'd be happy to show you around if you want to take a look at some homes in the area.