Hey Leigh! i was in the same position last january, and moved to ncl for a year- you're going to love it.
If you need an american-lady opinion, or help sorting out decent places to live/areas to look, i'm happy to help (by satellite, not in ncl anymore, sadly).
housing-wise, one thing i wish i knew earlier in the game is that heaton is actually a pretty comfy/residential area to live at a fraction of prices right Inside the city, and its a really easy/flat/straight ride into town. closer to a huge/cheaper grocery store, near parks, ouseburn, two bike shops, etc..
i chickened out on the research, and moved straight to the centre of town for safety/naievetes sake (which was an awesome apartment), but my heart is still in byker/heaton.
also, the kids are dangerous. lived in west philly for 3 years and never ran into quite so many bold, feral, truant kids as i did in the byker metro station.