The Welcome Wagon: Plugging In

Seeing ILM through new eyes


The rise in remote working over the past couple years has brought a wave of people to the Wilmington area. Meet some of these new neighbors and discover (or rediscover, if you’ve been here a while) where to work, relax, and connect around town.

  • Meet Greet: Read more about Katie Schmidt and why she moved here below.
  • Beach Draw: Click here to read why Loleta Robinson decided to make Wilmington her home.
  • Plugging In: Click here to read about Kelly Specht and why she chose Wilmington.

KELLY SPECHT relocated in-state, moving from Durham to Wilmington last summer. She works remotely as a customer success representative for California-based Nutanix, a cloud computing company that focuses on the design, construction, and deployment of IT infrastructure. 

What made you decide to move here? “When I lived in Durham, I would frequently visit the area. I have wanted to live near the beach, and I love the history in Wilmington.” 

What factors played most into your decision of picking here? “I was looking for a smaller city, but one where I could still go back to my office. I sometimes return to Durham for team events and meetings. When deciding to move, I considered cost, live entertainment, local restaurants, and outdoor activities that are available. Wilmington is a great city to live in because it is focused on the beach. It offers a lot of water-related activities, such as boating and paddleboarding.” 

Impressions so far? “I feel as though Wilmington has a strong sense of community. It is amazing how often I run into people that I know. The history aspect is cool. When I first lived here, I rented a room in a historic house.”

What do you miss though from your last city? “I miss RDU (Raleigh-Durham International Airport) because it offers more direct flights. It is great to see that a new terminal opened at ILM this year.”

What have you learned about how to work remotely? “Before the pandemic, I was always a passionate office worker. I really enjoyed going into the office every day, seeing my co-workers, and collaborating with my team members. I really miss that sense of community. However, remote work has presented an opportunity to experience a new city. I think it is really important to establish a routine and set up a dedicated workspace. I go to O2 fitness in the morning, and then I feel much more energized for work. I sometimes go to a local coffee shop to work for the afternoon. Bespoke Coffee (shown above) is one of my favorites. I also joined Blue Mind Coworking, which has been a great experience. I like meeting other people who work in completely different industries, but who all gather in an office environment. Julie Donlon is the owner, and she has created an amazing space for remote workers. The office has a beach/surfing theme, but it also has conference rooms, whiteboards, and printers.” 

How about networking with your new community? “As a remote worker, I think it is important to develop a professional network in your new community. I joined Port City Young Professionals as soon as I moved here. The first event I attended was a Wilmington Sharks game. I have consistently attended the networking events, and I’ve met some of my closest friends through PCYP. I am really impressed that Jenna Curry thought to create this group. It is a lifesaver for transplants. I also joined the Junior League of Wilmington last fall. The Junior League empowers women to improve their community through volunteering and outreach opportunities. We have meetings once a month, and we have had socials at Second Glass, SUP Wilmington paddleboarding, and Palate wine bar. JLW has also offered some thought-provoking seminars, on environmental issues, women’s health, and financial planning. I have also played kickball with Sport City intramural league. I joined the team as a free agent and met a lot of great people. We are planning on participating in the fall league.” 

Favorite places to visit or spend a day? “Live Oak Bank Pavilion had some fantastic concerts last summer. This year, I am going to see Dierks Bentley and Maren Morris. Fort Fisher State (Recreation Area) has a great beach. I am saving for a Jeep so I can drive on the sand.”

Favorite places to eat or drink? “Bespoke Coffee has an amazing caramel latte. I love the Spaghetti al Formaggio Parmigiana at Tarantelli’s. Cloud 9 has the best view in the city; I enjoy listening to live music on the rooftop.”

A surprise you’ve come across since moving here? “I was surprised at how much great local music this area offers. Many Everythings and Feebs are two of my favorite local bands.”

Advice for other newcomers? “Definitely check out the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington. Regardless of whether or not you believe in ghosts, it was a great opportunity to learn about the historic sites. I think the stories about the Carolina Apartments are fascinating, especially since people still live in the apartments.”

To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to

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Categories: Features