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Old 02-05-2011, 11:13 AM
Location: SF Bay Area
7 posts, read 33,886 times
Reputation: 22


My husband just accepted a job in SM. I'm from LA but haven't lived there in many years and never with kids. Currently in the Bay Area (Orinda/Moraga). We like semi-rural living, that is geography, trees, etc. which is why we're drawn to Topanga/Malibu, but that's not the same as knowing what it's like to actually live there. It's very beautiful where we live but the community feeling just isn't here...and the cold and rain is driving me crazy.

How are the schools?
We live in an excellent school district but the pressure on children to be "perfect" creates an unhealthy amount of stress; on the other hand we don't want our kids to be in schools without solid instruction. I'm a teacher and have worked in some very tough school districts...
Is there a place without a crazy commute to SM where one can rent for under $3200 for 3 bdr.? We would like a house, but are fine with other options as long as we have a bit of outdoor space to hang-out in.
The "other" factor:
My grown-up daughter lived in Echo Park/Silverlake and thinks it's better for the younger kids to live in an area that's more urban. Of course that drive would be insane, but she suggests looking into areas around SM that are more in that vein. I get it, when I was 18 I lived in Hollywood back when it was pretty rough, but those were the punk rock days of the late 70s/early 80s...and I'm a lot older! We would like to be in a welcoming place where people know eachother but maybe I've been reading too many books about an ideal that has never really existed?
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Old 02-05-2011, 01:39 PM
4,212 posts, read 6,362,844 times
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Topanga is pretty affordable (I think you can find something in your budget) but almost frighteningly isolated. Depending how deep in the canyon you are. I know some people who live there and say it's a great commute and great to be back in nature, but it can easily take 20 minutes just to get out of the canyon on to PCH.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:16 PM
1,964 posts, read 4,428,209 times
Reputation: 1616
I would look into Mar Vista or Westchester if you want a house in that price range, but check on the schools since it's LAUSD.
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:12 PM
252 posts, read 365,428 times
Reputation: 164
I have lived in both places Malibu and Topanga most of my life. Topanga is more affordable and closer to the city the downside though is that its in the Los Angeles School District , but i still knew kids from Topanga that went to Malibu and middle and Highschool. Malibu's schools are good and safe. Palasades , is ok , Santa Monica I wouldn't recommend. Malibu has become more and more expensive over the years , back in early nineties regular people used to live in Malibu like teachers and dentists not anymore now its just movie producers and business types.
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:18 PM
252 posts, read 365,428 times
Reputation: 164
Overall I would say I Topanga is Great Place to live. I want to move out away from the Hollywood fakeness of Malibu and move back to Topanga.
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:45 PM
102 posts, read 144,024 times
Reputation: 89
I love Topanga. I think a commute to Santa Monica would take 30-45 minutes unless there was a major traffic problem and since the main route is Pacific Coast Hwy, that is always a possibility. I think the local elementary school there is okay. Mar Vista, as someone mentioned, can be very nice for families. There's quite a nice sense of community -- great farmer's market, some independent shops, good elementary school, fantastic environmentally-conscious groups. I think you can find a house in your price range. Mar Vista Hill is desirable, really everything in the area is fine with the exception of a couple of blocks that are all apartments, and they're probably really fine too.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:26 PM
10 posts, read 25,930 times
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I'm sure the original poster is long gone, but I am seeking a little more info on Topanga for myself. Does it have much in the way of a town or little business area?
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:57 PM
5 posts, read 15,683 times
Reputation: 19
Default Living in Topanga

I just moved to Topanga from Boston and was asking exactly the questions you are asking now. I'm going to try to write what would have helped me. Topanga is truly beautiful, picture trees and flowers with mountain views. Houses that blend into the surrounding topography. It is extremely quiet, the loudest thing I've found are the crickets - and they are loud. It is peaceful and you really feel a sense of privacy. That said, it is really rural. There are lots of bugs! We had a deer run through our yard right in front of us the other day. You hear animal movement sounds at night. There are coyotes and such - though I haven't seen them yet. I find myself struggling with whether I want so much nature outside my door. The people here are extremely friendly and laid back, there is a very hip sort of grungy vibe that I really like. But it's hard to be around them because it is so rural. There really isn't a proper downtown, there is a section of Topanga Canyon BLVD that has several stores but you really can't walk around as there are no sidewalks. The general store is great to grab some groceries but it is very small, more expensive and reasonably dirty. Though the employees are really friendly. I find that I need to go down the mountain to do my grocery shopping or well to do any kind of shopping. Getting to the ocean is a snap. It's right at the bottom of the mountain but you can not walk, its a long windy mountain road with no sidewalks. There is no real public transportation u here with the exception of a shuttle that runs in the summer down to the beaches for only 50 cents. But it has limited hours and the drop off up here is at the general store so unless your car is waiting there for you you have to walk on the street back to your house. We are renting a beautiful house for $3000.00 It has 3 bedrooms. The house is built into the side of a mountain so the yard is really two cement decks with stairs. Our daughter goes to Topanga Elementary school and it is wonderful. Parent involvement is huge and I can already see that there are some hierarchical structures going on which makes me a bit uncomfortable. But there are endless opportunities to get involved in your child's school. The teachers are wonderful and the amount of after school programs is amazing, gymnastics, ballet, sports, theater, film making, etc.. All in all it is wonderful but I miss seeing and hearing other people, I miss the instant community of living closer together with people, I miss being able to walk around a bit and have people around us. It is isolating here, but beautiful and affordable and with a great school and great people. I recently learned that now that she is in the school we can move out of the service area and she would not have to switch schools so I am now looking at Calabasas as a potential place to live. It is near enough to the school but more urban. Also, the middle schools that you feed into here are not very good so that is another reason I'm thinking of Calabasas, they have the Las Virgines school district which is basically all 10 out of 10 schools. So it's a place I'd like to be by the time she goes to middle school anyway. Lastly, I don't find the commute to Santa Monica to be a problem at all, usually takes me 15 - 20 mins. But I never have to go during commuter traffic. When I do find myself coming home in the evening traffic it takes may 35 mins but you can see the ocean the whole way. I hope this helps.
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