Agoura Hills is beautiful, but the drive from there to Santa Monica is not. The 101, and especially the 101/405 intersection which is one of the worst in LA, will probably give you grey hairs before your time. You can count on just over an hour on a good day and up to 2 hours on a bad day, each way.
The alternate route, PCH, may not be shorter, in either time or distance, but will definitely be more pleasant. The only problem is getting to PCH from Agoura Hills. You have to take one of the Canyon Roads. These are subject to closure on a regular basis at various times of the year from fire, mud slides, and rock slides. Unfortunately, PCH suffers the same types of closures.
A solution that I found very helpful to long, tedious, daily drives was getting through my reading list on the road. You can check out "books on tape" from the local library or rent them at various stores or on-line locations. After doing this for about 6 months and getting through such classics as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy, modern classics such as Grapes of Wrath, many Mark Twain stories, etc., and current fiction like the DaVinci Code, I found Audible.com. From there I downloaded first to CD's and later to my iPod many more classics, educational material, self improvement works and the daily Wall Street Journal read for under $20.00 per month. I actually miss my long commutes now, as I have much less time to "read" than I did in those days.
My recommendation to you is, live where you love it and work where you must. Eventually, you will find work closer to your home or you will find a way to work from home. Where you live truly affects you life. Although I worked on the border of West LA and Santa Monica and lived in Long Beach (far east side), coming home every day to my beautiful home on the Peninsula was worth the sacrifice. Now I work from home most days and my office is 25 minutes from home. I am forever thankful that I did not move closer to the "job". I am also forever enriched by the books I read along the way. Dare to Dream.
Shel-lee Davis, CDPE
Your Real Estate Consultant for Life
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty