Are there better, faster, (and cheaper ways) to find housing?
When i first came to Poland we lived in a hotel for about a week, during this time we visted a few estate agencies and they showed us some real crap, many not available for months and most well over priced 3500 PLN +, my advice is buy as many private advertising papers as possible and call the owners direct. You'll save the commission which is usually the equivalent of one months rent.
Im not that sure of areas in Krakow, i drove through the North last week and noticed lots of new apartment blocks and the neighbourhoods seem failry nice.
Theres plenty of expats on here living in Krakow they'll know more.