In regards to finding a place, you should check out Brooklyn (look up the Artist's warehouse or something along the lines of artist's and revolution) they have some pretty decent pricing. Also, check out the Bronx and Harlem not "pretty Harlem" either I mean straight up... Harlem lol. Umm... that's all I got right now in regards to where to live.
Minimum wage? Umm... you're white... you're male... and you're from Ireland... you're off to a pretty good start, my dear. You'll probably get a fairly decent part time job. Some great places where you could get hired would be at electronics store (like Apple, Sony, Radioshack), or Starbucks is AWESOME... Barnes and Noble, they have a huge one in the city it's heaven. Or simply at a Library, TONS of Museums (I highly recommend a museum), or movie theater.
No go areas? LOL everywhere? no I'm just kidding, pretty much all the places I recommended you to live. LOL. I'm not kidding. Just blend into your surroundings and you'll be fine. Don't walk around Harlem or certain parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx in a fancy suit with alligator shoes, a diamond watch and a briefcase. You will get jacked. Just be kind to people (NOT TOO KIND) and you'll be fine. It's not that bad living in New York. The only thing you'll have to worry about is the rats... and the pigeons. They're more of a threat to you than anything else.
Don't jay-walk in the city. You will get hit.
Don't take a cab ever. Learn to work the subways. Really cheap and much faster.
Don't f*ck with the cops. Only ask for help in regards to directions... oh wait you're white... nevermind.
Don't rent a car unless you end up in a suburban town because cars can be pretty useless. Like I said, a metrocard or train pass can become your best friend. Once you figure out the subways you can go ANYWHERE.
Don't carry your ipod or phone or any other thing of value on your person. Keep it well hidden and close to you. There are experienced pick-pocketers all over NY.
If you really want a really cheap place then look online for people looking for roommates in the areas I just mentioned. Make sure they're not sketchy looking people either.
You'll be fine and you'll enjoy New York You're bob... come on lol
"Isso é como nós latinas/meninas pretas fazemos. Vá ou flua.. ya digg?"