It looks like I'm going to spending 6 months in NYC this year! I'm really excited (I've only been once or twice before when I was a kid) but also completely clueless, so I have many questions:

Where to stay, area-wise? I'm going to be working in mid-town Manhattan so I don't want a super-long commute. Which areas are nice/interesting but relatively cheap? And not too far?

Any tips on finding places to stay? Are there any sites I should avoid?

Cost of living: how much am I looking at in terms of cost of food per month, entertainment, cell phone plan etc?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

ETA: I forgot to mention I'm moving from another country, hence the cell phone plan question.