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The seriousness of her piano studies led her parents to consider not leaving the Soviet Union, but they finally decided to emigrate, due to the racial, ethnic, and political discrimination that Jews faced.
Traveling first to Austria and then Italy, the Spektor family was admitted to the United States as refugees with the assistance of HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).
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When the Soviet Union ruler Mikhail Gorbachev began his policy of perestroika in 1989, she and her parents immigrated to Bronx, New York City, and started a new life there.
"We had to sell the piano because we weren't allowed to bring anything foreign-made out of Russia," she recalled. I was so sad." Lucky for Regina, she got Manhattan School of Music professor, Sonia Vargas, as her teacher. The Japanese have a proverb: whenever the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Around this time, she also worked briefly at a butterfly farm in Luck, Wisconsin, Spektor gradually achieved recognition through performances in the anti-folk scene in downtown New York City, most prominently at the East Village's Side Walk Cafe.
She also performed at local colleges (such as Sarah Lawrence College) with other musicians, including the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players.