AUSTIN-A nationwide high-tech research firm says Austin, Dallas and Houston are the most affordable cities for technology professionals.

The three cities lead the rankings, in that order, followed closely by the Twin Cities and Atlanta, says techies.com Inc. Industry salaries are higher in the Bay Area and New York City, but Texas technologists have twice the discretionary income, says the national network of on-line career resources for more than 585,000 technology professionals. The research group says Bay Area salaries are 16% higher than the national average.

To arrive at the conclusion, techies.com factors industry salaries against the cost-of-living index for 26 markets. Sixth through tenth place “affordable city” rankings went to Seattle, Denver, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Columbus and Cincinnati, respectively. The most costly cities are New York City, Bay Area, San Diego, Boston and Los Angeles, respectively.

Doug Berg, founder and CEO of techie.com, says housing and other cost-of-living factors are outstripping earnings in many markets, putting Texas at the top of the list for professionals seeking good pay and affordable living. Berg says the index has been instituted “to put some skin on just how wide the affordability gap is. … A techie can almost pick and choose where he or she wants to work and has plenty of leverage in negotiating salary.” He says Texas companies will be able to use the index as a tool for hiring and retaining high-tech workers.